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Hey everyone,
My name is Amy and I am hoping you can help me as I am seriously new to all this gardening lark (Have LITERALLY only just mowed the lawn for the first time in my life). I have a well established Acer (No idea of the species) which I have had for 4 years, amazingly without killing it  Its potted in John Inns compost and has just thrived. I recently moved house and it seems to love its spot in the garden.
Long story short I have been bitten by the green finger bug and decided to grow some Veg in pots this year, and in an enthusiastic effort I saw what I thought were weeds in the pot of my Acer. I could see about 8 shoots, and it wasn't until I ripped out the first three (roots did come with it) that I realised that actually these weren't weeds but seedlings.
I did my research and it said to dig out the seedlings carefully, trying to get as much soil on the roots as possible for transport. It was difficult to do this as it seems that my Acer has a lot of roots and I didn't want to damage Mummy Acer (as she has been nick named), so I gently dug around with my fingers and the tip of my trowel and managed to get the other seedlings outs with a little more care. They have all been potted in Eracious (sp?) soil and I have put the pots next to Mummy Acer again as they seem to like this position.
This was a week ago roughly, and they have survived all the rain we have had, but 2 of them are looking a little bit sick (Yellowing leaves) and I REALLY don't want them to die, especially as I have been so excited about having Mummy Acer seed (Seems as if there are quite a few more tiny tiny seeds which have sprouted as well).
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help me! I couldn't have left the seedlings in the main pot with Mummy Acer, but I really don't want to kill the first thing I have ever potted (My seeds don't count yet as they have not sprouted). Any hints and tips on how to keep them alive would be amazing and most certainly on what I should and shouldn't do when it comes to digging up the remaining babies in with Mummy.
Thank you for your time in reading this post.

Alina W

The chances are that the roots were damaged when they were dug up - even though you were obviously careful, it's very easy to do. The main thing to do with all of your seedlings is to keep them moist, but not saturated, and make sure that they never wilt. You can also start feeding them with weak liquid feed in a couple of months' time.

Apart from that, you must be doing things right if your acer is thriving.

Good luck, and enjoy gardening


They're probably just a bit too wet and over fed - when they were snugly cuddled up to Mum she would have taken up all the excess moisture.

Now they're in their own compost it's a different matter - it's new compost so will hold the water even better than the old stuff they're used to and it also has a lot of nutrients in it which as toddlers they're not really ready for.

So I woud stand them out of the rain and let them dry out a bit - they'll probably rally round


Annie, my first reaction was to think you were talking about a Japanese maple, as these are the type that are normally grown in pots. But these trees take many years to get big enough to set seed. And you would have noticed the seed on the tree, a pair of wingnuts - very attractive. So I don't think it can be a Japanese maple. 

My next thought was to wonder if you don't have a sycamore, which is an acer, and it sets seed like mad. But it is generally regarded as a weed. They grow into very big trees, and I would imagine one would very quickly outgrow a pot. And you certainly would want to think twice about growing more of them! I don't know where the seed came from. Is there a large acer-like tree nearby? If it is a sycamore I would imagine most of  the seedlings will be tough enough to survive without much care. 

It would help to have some more information to help identify what it is. You could google 'sycamore leaf' and look at the images to see if that's what it is. 


@HyppyByker - Do you think I should bring them inside for a little while? They do get sun in my garden but its later in the afternoon so its not so fierce. This is all well and good if we dont get lots of rain and its over cast in the afternoon. I know they prefer to be outside, but we have had silly amounts of rain fall over the weekend. What do you think about me bringing them inside for a day or two?

@Gold1locks - I can try and take a picture of it, but it has only just started to get new leaves so I am not sure if this would help. There are no other trees close by really. I am in a built up area.... pretty much the only thing close are weeds (Which I am DETERMIND to kill!) and shrubs.

Thanks for all your help



Alina W

Amy, don't bring your plants indoors - the change of air would do them no good at all.

Oh no, are Sycamore's bad then?

Ok thank you @ Alina W I shall leave them well alone. x

Alina W

Did you buy your acer in a shop or garden centre, Amy? If so, I don't think you can have a sycamore - they're not sold as garden plants, but are full-sized trees that you find in the countryside.

Try and take a photo if you can, and put us all out of our misery!


They need light but not warmth so if they don't get much standing in their little pots on the floor, raise them up on something - just make sure they're not in danger of being blown over!

Did you put any stones of broken crocks in the bottom of the pots to help with drainage?  If not, stand the pots on something ridged with holes in the bottom to allow the excess water to drain away.  A plastic meat tray with holes made in it will do a reasonable job and the deepones will hold the pots upright too.

And yes sycamores are bad - when the leaves get a bit bigger, check them against mummy or you might be growing monsters!

I cant seem to get a picture up as the file image is too large. Sorry. x


If you 'Resize' the image to a lower pixel rate and save it you should be able to upload it.

This was a gift from a friend. His uncle grew them from seeds and planted them in a stately mansion. WHen he got laid off, he dug them up and took them with him as he said they were his hard work, so he was taking them with him.

no stones at the bottom no, but I have a bed which has shingle in, so I have stood them on this in the hope to help with drainage.

Right, lets see if I can get this picture up!

 Mummy Acer.... Hoping its not a sycamore!



If you have had the tree for four years, how big was it when you got it? The seeds can't have come from the original, so I can only assume that they have come from another mature tree close by, which may not be the same as the original. Whatever they are, there must have been a lot of them being shed for eight to germinate in your pot,  and  I still wonder whether what you have are weed tree seedlings. You will know better once the leaves open. 


They DO look like Japanese maples to me!!!!


Looks like you have some rather attractive plantlets there. Lucky you!! You have done the right thing - just keep them somewhere sheltered outside, away from frost, which will kill them, and away from morning sun. 

@ Gold1locks I can take a picture of one of the babys, the leaves look simiar to this one (Sort of) although it is hard to tell as they are so small.

How long do seeds take to germinate? I moved on 16th December last year and took this tree with me. My garden there was situated along a railway line which had lots and lots of trees, but nothing like this ever happened. I am now in a new build area and there is not really a tree in sight, certainly not close.

Managed to take some pictures of some of the babies, I shall try and upload now (And REALLY need to start calling them seedlings!)

 All seedlings started with the bigger leaves, but they have all started to get the pointed leaves such as the very tiny ones in the middle.Second picture coming up.