Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Grow a Sycamore Tree From a Seed

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A row of sycamore trees lines a road.
A row of sycamore trees lines a road. (Image: road between sycamores image by Georgy Shafeev from Fotolia.com)

Sycamore trees are not only fast-growing, but very tall growing trees as well, often reaching between 75 feet and 100 feet tall. These native to North America trees are easy to recognize, thanks to the bark, which has a camouflage-type appearance. Sycamores prefer moist growing conditions and tend to grow along streams and in thick forests where there is plenty of moisture. You can plant sycamore tree seeds from freshly gathered seeds or from stored seeds that have been properly prepared.

Things You'll Need

  • Sycamore seeds
  • Pliers, nut cracker or hammer
  • Wire screening
  • Cookie sheets or paper sacks
  • Sphagnum peat moss
  • Sand (optional)
  • Zipper top bag
  • Potting mix
  • 1-gallon plastic pots
  • Spray bottle

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Preparing Sycamore Seeds

Collect seed pods from a sycamore tree when they turn light brown in color. This is normally best done in the fall after the tree loses its leaves.

Set the seed pods into paper sacks, or onto cookie sheets to air-dry. This can take one to two weeks. You will know they are fully dried when they can be easily cracked open.

Crack open the sycamore seed pods using a hammer, a nut-cracker or a pair of pliers. Separate the seed pods from the sycamore seeds.

Rub the sycamore seeds against wire screening to remove the fine hairs off the seeds. If you are going to plant the seeds right off, proceed from section 2, step 1 below.

Place approximately 2 cups of dampened sand or peat moss into a zipper-type bag.

Set the bag into a cold location; in the back of a refrigerator is best. The temperature should remain between 30 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Spritz the contents of the bag every three to five days, or as often as needed to keep the contents moist.

Remove the bag from the cold storage location after 90 days has passed and plant the seeds.

Planting Sycamore Seeds

Fill up 6-inch wide or 1-gallon plastic planting pots with potting mix until they are full to approximately 1 inch from the rim.

Poke two 1/8-inch deep indents in the center of each pot. The distance from each indent should be about 2 inches.

Plant one sycamore seed into each indent. Press the seed into the soil firmly, but do not bury it.

Scatter about one-eighth of the sand or sifted potting mix over the sycamore seeds.

Place the pots in a temperate environment where the temperature will stay moderately warm, between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not allow the potting mix to dry out. Spritz it with water daily if needed. Germination of sycamore tree seeds will begin in approximately 14 days.

Transplant the sycamore saplings once they are well-established and about 6 to 10 inches tall. Make sure you plant them in full sun and at least 30 feet away from other vegetation, since sycamores require ample room to grow.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sycamore trees are hardy in USDA Zones 5 through 9, according to Floridata.com.
  • Make sure you wear a dust mask when handling the sycamore seeds. The hairs on the seeds have caused respiratory problems for some people.

References

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