Like hardly any other native deciduous tree, the sycamore maple symbolizes irrepressible vitality, coupled with an impressive habit, palm-sized leaves, winged nuts and enchanting panicles of flowers. With increasing age, the Acer pseudoplatanus even gains in expressiveness when the fascinating play of shapes and colors of its scaly bark catches the eye. Garden owners who can give the mighty deciduous tree enough space enter into a lifelong friendship with its cultivation, which is passed on for generations. His profile impresses with awe-inspiring details. Nevertheless, the assertion that its care can only be managed by professionals belongs in the realm of fables.


  • The soap tree family (Sapindaceae).
  • Genus of maples (Acer).
  • Art: Berg-Ahorn (Acer pseudoplatanus).
  • Growth height 30 to 40 meters.
  • Life expectancy up to 500 years.
  • Green leaves in 5-lobed form.
  • Yellow-green panicles of flowers in May, at the same time as they sprout.
  • Winged Nuts in Autumn.
  • Initially smooth, grey-brown bark, later scaly and barky.
  • Rising branches form a rounded crown at the top.

The sycamore maple owes its name to its affinity for great heights. It seems that the higher it climbs in the hills and mountains, the more magnificently it thrives. In fact, above 800 to 900 meters it assumes a dominant role in the plant community. Of course, this does not imply that it is less widespread in the lowlands. Rather, the Acer pseudoplatanus is one of the most popular avenue trees, thanks to its high tolerance to urban climates.

light and shadow

When young, the sycamore maple benefits from a clever strategy that evolved over the course of evolution to enable it to withstand overwhelming competition. This is based on an extraordinary shade tolerance. Even under the densest canopy of deciduous and coniferous trees, the Acer pseudoplatanus has the best chance of healthy growth without too much sun exposure. With increasing age, shade tolerance decreases and gives way to an increased urge for light.

  • Age-related light preferences from sunny to shady.
  • The sycamore maple does not tolerate blazing sun well in any phase of its life.
  • Locations without stagnant heat in summer are preferable.

A pronounced growth dynamic drives the noble deciduous tree up quickly in the first years of life. If its shade acceptance decreases, it should tower over its plant neighbors if possible. It is therefore not possible to grow it at the same time as beech trees. These deciduous trees exhibit even more pronounced growth, eventually overtaking and overgrowing Acer pseudoplatanus. The sycamore maple then does not have the chance of a generation tree with a lifespan of centuries.

soil condition

The sycamore maple is assigned to the pioneer tree species. It therefore does not place high demands on the nature of the soil. However, the unfavorable factors should not accumulate. The deciduous tree gets along just as well with dry soil as with a lean clod. However, an Acer pseudoplatanus will avoid both properties at the same time.

  • The tree achieves its optimum in fresh, moist soil.
  • Gladly slightly acidic to slightly calcareous, but without waterlogging.
  • Improve soil that is too wet with sand and gravel.
  • The sycamore maple also opens up poorer garden areas.

Its roots, which reach up to 2 m deep, enable the mighty tree to access hidden water and nutrient reserves. The substrate may therefore be sandy-gravelly or sandy-loamy. Overall, the topsoil thickness should be around 100 cm. This means that topsoil and the underlying transition layer to the stony subsoil together with the groundwater amount to more than 1 meter. If you’re not sure, dig a hole and measure.


The large tree feels extremely well in the humid climate of the mountains. This fact allows conclusions to be drawn about its water and nutrient requirements.

  • Water copiously during the expansion phase.
  • Water adult sycamore extensively during summer drought.
  • In winter, water on frost-free days even when there is a frost (zero temperatures without snowfall).
  • Leave fallen leaves as mulch and fill up with grass clippings.
  • On newly planted trees, pile up the mulch layer during the winter.

As a deep root, the sycamore maple prefers the technique of penetrating watering. Accordingly, it is watered less frequently, but more intensively. The experienced gardener applies at least 15 liters per square meter to the tree disc using a spray jet. For this purpose, he mounts a nozzle on the water hose. Splashing water would only silt up the ground and seep into the groundwater almost unused.

Experienced hobby gardeners also take the time to loosen the soil about 3 cm deep after each downpour. In this way, they interrupt the fine capillaries in the earth, through which rising groundwater is transported to the surface to evaporate there. The moisture only reaches the root area and is effectively utilized by the sycamore maple. In combination with a thick layer of mulch, the deciduous tree is well prepared for stressful dry periods.


The one-off application of a long-term fertilizer in the spring is sufficient for the nutrient supply during the growing season. Blue grain , as a classic multi-nutrient fertilizer, is just as suitable as special preparations for ornamental trees. Alternatively, the sycamore maple regularly receives a well-measured ration of compost, enriched with horn shavings. The recommended mulch layer of leaves and grass to maintain soil moisture also releases valuable nutrients into the soil. Knowledgeable gardeners do without mulching with pieces of bark. It has been shown that such a layer tends to draw nutrients from the soil rather than supply them.

To cut

A sycamore maple would like to make acquaintance with the pruning shears as little as possible. Its nature is such that it forms an imposing habit with a large, rounded crown under its own steam. If a gardener still wants a pruning or topiary, he primarily tackles this from October to December.

  • Remove all deadwood from the crown as well as stunted and diseased shoots.
  • Always make the cut just above the knot string without damaging it.
  • Cut off steep, upright growing branches (water shoots) at the base.
  • Saw off thick branches in stages and approach the branch collar in this way.

If a corrective pruning proves necessary after flowering and budding, this will take place in June at the earliest. At this time, the enormous juice pressure gradually subsides again. Pruning the sycamore maple in spring carries the great risk that it will bleed and die.

Tip: Larger cuts are not completely sealed with tree wax, but only coated on the edge.


She looks extremely happy and fun-loving, the conspicuous propagation method of a sycamore maple. In summer, the fruit nuts fly in pairs through the air and are reminiscent of small helicopters. The wind carries the lightweights 100 meters and more away. Wherever they settle, they will germinate next spring. If you like it, simply dig up a healthy specimen in the wild to settle it in the garden. However, an ambitious hobby gardener insists on carrying out the propagation on his own. Two procedures are available.


An Acer pseudoplatanus is only in the mood to germinate if its seeds have previously experienced a cold period of 4 to 6 weeks. In this way, Mother Nature ensures that small trees that would not survive the winter do not develop in late summer.

  • Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for 24 hours.
  • Fill a plastic bag with damp sand and add the seeds.
  • Place in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator, never in the freezer.
  • After 4 to 6 weeks, the first signs of germination appear.

The seeds have completed the cooling phase and now need 8 to 10 days at an average of 12° Celsius. For this purpose, the gardener fills seed pots with a peat-sand mixture or coconut fibers and inserts the seeds 1-2 cm deep. There should not be more than 2 seeds per container. Following this transition period, the seedlings are now allowed to move to a partially shaded, warm window seat to continue their growth. Until next fall, the gardener will repeatedly repot them. From a growth height of approx. 12-15 cm, he treats them to a more nutritious substrate and spoils them with diluted liquid fertilizer every 2 to 3 weeks. Staying on the balcony or terrace in the summer is beneficial for growth, because it could get too warm for the young Acer pseudoplatanus behind glass. In autumn, their maturation is so advanced that


Leisure gardeners use the peaceful time of winter to propagate with cuttings. Biennial, woody branches with a strong, healthy constitution are best suited. The garden enthusiast cuts off the shoot tip straight while making the lower cut at an angle. An ideal length is 15 cm, with a minimum of 3-4 leaf nodes.

  • Fill small pots with nutrient-poor substrate.
  • Put a stick 2/3 into each pot.
  • Place in a cool, bright place at 5° to 12° Celsius.

In the following weeks, each stick will start to form its own root system. The water supply is limited to not letting the substrate dry out. If a stick sprout, it moves to a warmer place at around 18° Celsius. Further cultivation follows the same principle as with the care of seedlings.


No matter how the gardener may have come into possession of a young sycamore maple, he deliberately plans to plant it in the fall. The noble deciduous tree stops growing its shoots and leaves at this time. Thus, its remaining energy is available to stretch out the roots in the still warm soil. Before winter moves into the garden with ice and snow, the tree has established itself in order to start next spring with a head start in growth.

  • Place the young plant with the root ball in a container with water.
  • Meanwhile weed the planting site thoroughly and loosen it up deeply.
  • Dig a planting hole twice the volume of the root ball.
  • Drive a support pole into it at the edge, which will later be connected to the sycamore maple.
  • Mix the excavation with garden compost and horn shavings.
  • At the bottom of the pit create a drainage with crushed potsherds or gravel.
  • Plant the potted tree in the middle and water generously.

Finally, the gardener connects the tree and support pole with wide straps or a coconut cord. An Acer pseudoplatanus is considered to be extremely wind-resistant, which of course does not apply to freshly planted specimens. A post should provide stability for at least the first year. Repeated checking of the fastening material is essential so that it does not grow into the bark.

Note: While the sycamore maple is not considered invasive; nevertheless, it is worth considering providing it with a root barrier so that the expansive root system does not take over the entire garden.

Cultivating a sycamore maple fills the gardener with both humility and pride. When fully grown, the mighty deciduous tree, up to 40 meters high, dominates the large garden as an impressive natural monument. Elegant, subtle panicles of flowers adorn the Acer pseudoplatanus in May. Green leaves, shaped like human hands, turn a deep golden brown in autumn. Cheerful wingnuts sail through the park in summer. Only a few care aspects have to be considered, such as an adapted supply of water and nutrients and a restrained cut in winter or summer. There is no doubt that the sycamore maple effortlessly lives up to the description as the ‘carrot number of the trees’.

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