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

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You can grow a sycamore tree from seed
Image Credit: Valentin Onescu/iStock/GettyImages

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

They're not just big – they're really big. Sycamore trees are not only fast-growing, but very tall growing trees as well, often reaching between 75 feet and 100 feet tall. Native to North America, these impressive trees are easy to recognize, thanks to the bark. Sycamore tree bark 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.

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The best way to propagate this plant is from seeds – either freshly gathered or from stored seeds that have been properly prepared.

Preparing Sycamore Seeds

Step 1: Gather Sycamore Seed Pods

Collect sycamore 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.

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Step 2: Dry the Sycamore Seed Pods

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.

Step 3: Open and Separate the Pods

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.

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Step 4: Prepare the 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.

Step 5: Bag the Seeds

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

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Step 6: Refrigerate the Sycamore Seeds

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.

Step 7: Take the Seeds Out of the Refrigerator

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

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Planting Sycamore Seeds

Step 1: Prepare the Planting Pots

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.

Step 2: Plant the Seeds

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.

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Step 3: Cover the Seeds

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

Step 4: Keep the Seeds Warm and Moist

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.

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Step 5: Transplant the Saplings

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.

Tip

Sycamore trees are hardy in USDA Zones 5 through 9, according to Floridata.com.

Warning

Make sure you wear a dust mask when handling the sycamore seeds. The hairs on the seeds have caused respiratory problems for some people.

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