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Red Maple Question

Posted by reeselayne 8 North Texas (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 6, 09 at 10:38

Ok this may be a really stupid question, but why are the red maples I see at the nursery so incredible expensive. Those and japanese maples seem to cost your first born child and an arm and leg or 2. Are they that hard to propagate? I would love one but certainly can't afford at those prices. Is there a reason for this or a conspiracy but these nursery owners.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Red Maple Question

The cheaper plants are just grown from seed. They weed out the green ones and keep the red ones. The ones that cost an arm and a leg are usually grafted or grown from cuttings. Some of those trees may be 5 years old or more just to reach a size that can be sold. So you're paying for the time more than anything. I agree it seems unfair, but I can't graft and even if I could, I'd probably be more likely to make a fruit cocktail tree than a weeping laceleaf Japanese Maple.

RE: Red Maple Question

The understock takes 3-5 years to grow before the desired type of tree can be grafted to it. Then after the grafting is done, the tree must be treated carefully until the graft takes, and not every graft will be successful. The trees are usually grown on for a while after that, so whomever is doing the work may have several years invested in the plant before they see a dime for it.

I have sold plants for many years and in the last couple have tried my hands at grafting. There is a lot of work involved, and I am always amazed when my customers somehow think I am making a killing on what I sell... If, after all is said and done, I make even half of minimum wage, I'd be amazed.

Since the cost at nurseries are prohibitive for you, you might consider looking into mail order for the trees you want. Though small, they are often reasonably priced ($15-20)plus S&H of course. After a few years of TLC you hopefully will have a nice little specimen tree.


RE: Red Maple Question

kms4me is right about all the work involved. But, as a hobby, tree growing can also be a labor of love. I have a ton of trees that I have grown from seed, cuttings, or snagged out of overgrown parking lots, and I really signed myself up for a lot of work. I am amazed that places like Lowe's can sell trees and shrubs so cheaply, because each of those trees involved years of work!

Japanese Maples and Red Maples are pretty easy to grow from seed. Small seedlings (like 2 inches or so) can also be found near parent trees, very often, and if you just tug on them gently and pull them out of soft soil, and if you can get enough roots, you can just plant it in a pot at home and tend to it until it grows big enough to plant in the yard.

I've got several greenish-red Japanese Maples that came up in a parking lot in an upscale community, and also from an overgrown plot of land that was about to be turned into a park. Because they were only 2 inches when I snagged them, nobody cared what I was doing. If anything, they were probably happy that I was "pulling weeds" for them.
I also have a couple of Red Maples collected the same way. If you enjoy tending to plants, and if you have the patience to wait a few years for a respectable sized tree, you might want to try it.

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