Maple Trees Buying & Growing Guide
Maple trees are ubiquitous in the continental U.S., found in countless back yards and lining urban streets. There’s a good reason for that: they are attractive, yes, but they are also tough and easy to grow. They grow easily from seeds, cuttings, or established saplings, and they reward the gardener with an attractive shade feature for the garden as well as spectacular fall color.
Where to Buy Maple Trees
- Fast Growing Trees
- Brighter Blooms
- Garden Goods Direct
How to Grow Maple Trees
How to plant Maple trees
Although you can plant a maple tree any time the ground isn’t frozen, early fall is the best time, as they will begin to establish themselves until the ground freezes and then have winter to rest before growing actively in the spring. Choose a location that gets full sun (6-8 hours daily) or close to full sun, and with well-drained soil. Maple trees can grow to 100 feet tall, so keep them well away from buildings or overhead utility lines.
Dig a hole that’s three times as wide and just as deep as your sapling’s root ball. Unpot or unwrap your tree and tease out any roots that are encircling the root ball, as they may suffocate the plant. Amend the soil on the bottom of the hole with compost, and place your tree on top so that the top of the root ball is even with the soil line. Fill in the hole with topsoil that’s been mixed with compost.
Tamp down the soil to eliminate air pockets and water your tree deeply. Add a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree, being careful that it doesn’t touch the trunk. Mound the mulch up into a low berm at the outer edge of the root zone so that water will stay inside and soak in by the roots rather than running off.
How to achieve maximum results
Choosing the right site for your maple tree is the first step toward achieving maximum results. It may not seem that your tiny sapling could grow to great heights, but maples are a tall tree with a broad canopy, so give them lots of space to spread out. They like a soil of between 5.0 and 7.0 pH — a quick soil test will tell you what you’ve got. Some maples are more tolerant of shade than others, but generally, maples will thrive as long as they have four or more hours of direct sun a day.
How to Care for Maple Trees
Watering and nutrients
Your sapling will need more water (about an inch or so a week) when newly planted; once it is established and has worked its roots into the soil, you shouldn’t need to do supplemental watering unless you’re experiencing drought conditions. Keep your eye on the leaves, though — if you see wilting, that may be a sign it needs more water.
Don’t fertilize your maple tree at planting time. Wait until the following spring, and then give it a feeding of a slow-release, balanced fertilizer. One annual feeding is sufficient. Adding a layer of well-rotted compost under the mulch once a year will also help spur growth.
Maple trees produce small pale flowers in the spring. These are wind pollinated, although the trees may also be visited by nectar-loving insects such as bees. The flowers fall from the trees by mid-summer, leaving behind v-shaped seed pods that are often called “helicopters.” These are spread by the wind and can travel quite a distance on a good updraft.
Prune your maple tree in late winter, before the buds break. Remove any broken or diseased branches, as well as those that mar the form. Take out branches that are rubbing against each other, as well. If the center of the tree seems crowded, take out a few branches to allow air and light to circulate freely through the tree.
Pests, diseases, and animals
Mites and pear thrips may bother your maple tree, as well as aphids, which can be dealt with organically by purchasing ladybugs, which eat them and will also tackle scale infestations. A general insecticide will also help, although a healthy maple tree can fight off a minor infestation with no help.
Diseases of the maple include anthracnose and bacterial leaf scorch. The best way to handle anthracnose is to plant a resistant variety, but spraying with a copper fungicide will also help. Leaf scorch can be avoided with good horticultural practices: keep the area around your tree free of debris, ensure good drainage, and water at ground level.