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How To Grow Sycamore Tree From Seed: Sycamore Tree Care Guide

What You’ll Need to Know About Growing Sycamore Trees From Seeds: Growing sycamore trees from seeds is not difficult, but it can take a long time. When grown from seed, these shade-loving trees can take up to 20 years before they reach their full size of between 60 and 70 feet tall with an equal spread.

That’s why commercial nurseries tend to grow them as specimens instead of trying to sell tiny saplings that will require decades of care and feeding.

Sycamore Tree Growing From Seeds

  • Seeds: The first consideration when growing sycamore tree seedlings is finding fresh seeds ones that have been harvested within the past year because older seeds won’t germinate.
  • This means you’ll likely need to order your seeds over the Internet, where companies sell them in packets for no more than a couple of dollars.
  • Location: The best place to plant sycamore tree seeds is outdoors, either fall or early spring. The seeds will need six hours of direct sunlight each day to germinate properly.
  • They also must have moist soil at all times – you can’t just water them once every few days, they’ll require consistent moisture until they germinate.
  • If you live in an area that gets heavy snowfall, be aware that the seedlings could die if they are covered by snow through the winter season.
  • Planting Instructions: Plant your fresh sycamore tree seeds about 1/4-inch deep and keep the soil moist at all times until they germinate.
  • Germination can take up to two months, so be patient if your seeds don’t sprout right away.

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  • Plant Location: When the seedlings are about 4 inches tall, transplant them to a permanent location in the garden or on your property.
  • As with any new tree addition, be sure there is enough space for them properly spread their roots and become established.
  • Make sure you plant them on slightly elevated ground or mound it up around the stem of each seedling to keep water away from the growing root system; this will help prevent fungal diseases during periods of excessive moisture.
  • While some might recommend planting sycamore trees as far as 20 feet apart, I think 10 feet would be best because mature sycamore trees are large.
  • Mature Tree: Those growing sycamore tree saplings from seeds can expect them to become full-size over the next 40 years, with spectacular fall color in shades or reds and oranges.
  • As a bonus, they tend to attract wildlife such as squirrels and birds that feast on their seedpods in the late summer.
  • But they’ll do best in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 8; if you live in a colder area, you might be better off buying young specimens instead of attempting to grow them from scratch.

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Some Facts About Sycamore Tree

  • Sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) are often confused with Norway maple (Acer platanoides), another shade tree sold at nurseries and garden centers.
  • But the sycamore is much more majestic, able to reach heights of 100 feet tall with a spread of 60 feet across – making it one of the largest shade trees that’s native to North America.
  • You can easily recognize sycamores by their large five-lobed leaves and massive branches that twist and turn as they grow.
  • The bark is also quite distinctive: brownish gray shaggy plates that fall away in jagged strips as the trunk expands.
  • In late spring, you’ll notice clusters of small green flowers, but no fruits develop on the sycamore.
  • But you’ll appreciate the shade it provides during those hot summer days, as well as the stunning autumn color that starts out as bright orange and transitions to pink and red before falling to the ground.

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Growing Sycamore Trees For Firewood

Since sycamore trees are so abundant, it’s not surprising that some people have started growing them specifically for firewood purposes. That means they’ll need to cut the trees down when they are about 15 years old, which is usually before any significant sap production starts.

A lot of folks even opt to plant more than one tree, since this species often has two growth spurts each year and can produce plenty of wood in just a decade or two.

That said, some hardwood suppliers don’t want their logs cut until the trees reach 30 or more years old because they believe that will produce higher quality firewood with less smoke and creosote buildup in your fireplace or furnace.


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Problems With Sycamore Tree Growing

New sycamore sprouts grow up very fast, but they can be vulnerable to disease and insects in their early years.

The most common issue when growing sycamores from seed is dampening off fungus , which is why you should plant them during the spring once the weather starts warming up.

Aphids, whiteflies and scale are also common nuisances for this species. You’ll find a lot of spray-on insecticides labeled for sycamore trees at your local garden center, so inspect the leaves regularly and try to get ahead of any infestation before it gets out of control.

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