Japanese Maple Seedlings vary greatly in color

West Babylon, NY(Zone 7a)

At my house I have a Japanese Maple that is at least 15 years old. It has light green leaves with light red veins, I have no idea what cultivar it is but it's the healthiest tree ever! There are no other Japanese Maples in our area. The seedlings all start out with purple baby leaves ( the tree seeds are light red), but when they get true leaves I have noticed seedlings with green,red, or purple leaves. If my tree has light green leaves, why is there so much variation in seedlings? In the Fall the leaves are the best looking in our area!

West Babylon, NY(Zone 7a)

Here are the seedlings see how they vary greatly.

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Wilmington, NC(Zone 8a)

I'm no expert but my understanding is that most commercially sold JM like yours are not grown from seeds (seedlings) but rather grafted ie. a red branch grafted to a green maple root stock. The roots of green maples are supposed to be hardier and grow faster so JM growers use the rootstoock of green seedlings. Seeds from grafted trees have either the DNA from the green rootstock or the grafted red branch which is now your tree. You're lucky to have seedlings and blessed that some of them are red.

West Babylon, NY(Zone 7a)

No exaggeration, I get over 500 seeds falling each year and I'm littered with hundreds of seedlings on the ground come spring. I'll probably give some seeds away since they are so plentiful and the tree a real beauty!
Thanks for explaining that to me!

Galien, MI

To make it even a bit more confusing, green JM seedlings generally stay green, although they may have a bit of spring/fall reddish tones, but the red JM seedlings can have the range from all green to solid red. They are rarely variegated, though, even if the parent was. The leaf colors you see the first year or two may not be the permanent color. The same seedling may show slightly different colors in a different location with more or less sun.

Interesting thing about the seeds - many look perfect, but are hollow. I tested local trees for 3 years. I think they send out a lot of "fakes" to fool the squirrels, etc., in the hopes of wasting their time so the real seeds can survive.

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

i back up what lj says - here are some pic's of some jm seedlings i grew from a couple different bloodgood and two different viridis. almost all of them have changed and now most look completely different - they are 4 years old

first is a nice red with yellow viens
second is a nice brick red
third has a nice red leaf
fourth a diss. leaf
fifth a differen diss leaf

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Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

one with a green leaf
and a diss green leaf

i have about 12 of these little jm's and happy that they are all different in different ways

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Galien, MI

Nice job with the diss leaves! The odds on getting those are pretty low, even with diss parents. Great pics. :-)

West Babylon, NY(Zone 7a)

My seedlings are growing but so slowly, do JM normally grow slow?

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

the ones i pictured grew very slowly and they are still small - i did not use any typical growers soil or fertilizer and they have been in very small containers, just moved them up to one gal. last year. maybe dave can offer some advise.

Galien, MI

Depends. I have some 4 year olds that are less than 2 feet, another that up to 4 ft. Genetics and conditions both affect them. One person I know often has them 1+ feet by the end of the season down south, but she's been doing it a while. Personally, I prefer the condensed growth. It makes for better multiple branches down low, when trimmed.

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