Red Maple: Grow & Care for Acer Rubrum

Written by Iris

Oct 13 2021

Red Maple: Grow & Care for Acer Rubrum
Red Maple (Acer Rubrum) is a general name for the class Dicotyledon and several plant species in the Aceraceae. It is a deciduous large tree. It is Fast-growing, and the adult trees can reach 12-18 meters tall, and crown width 12 meters. The flowers bloom in spring and are red. Because of its eye-catching autumn color, clean crown, is widely used in parks, communities, street planting, can not only landscape and can do street trees, deeply loved by people, is one of the ideal rare trees for greening urban gardens. It can also be used as a street tree species.

Where to Grow Red Maple

Red Maple (Acer Rubrum) can be inter-planted with other trees or planted in groups to create a lush, woodland setting. The tree forms surface roots that can be damaged by a lawnmower, so don’t plant grass all the way up to the trunk. It can handle “wet feet,” which means it doesn't mind areas that stay wet for a time after heavy rains. This also means it can thrive planted near a pond or lake.
Choose a wet site in partial shade or full sun. Unless the soil in the area is naturally moist, the tree will need frequent watering. Slow, deep watering is better than frequent light watering, as this will encourage the roots to grow deeper.
Add topsoil or a mixture of composted cow manure and organic peat moss to the hole when planting the Florida maple. Since the tree drops its leaves in the winter, consider planting Red Maple far enough into your lawn so that the fallen leaves don't cover sidewalks and driveways. You'll need to trim it occasionally to remove lower branches that obstruct vehicle or foot traffic, but otherwise, no trimming is necessary. Fertilize the tree three times a year—spring, summer, and fall—with a general granular fertilizer.

How to Grow Red Maple (Acer Rubrum)

Red Maple Propagation With Seeds

  • Pour potting soil into a growing pot with adequate drainage and space to create a solid growing environment. Use a pot measuring at least 8 inches in diameter to allow the seedling room to grow before transplanting.
  • Harvest the seeds during late spring or early summer. Locate a branch with seeds that are beginning to turn brown, and shake it lightly to dislodge the mature seeds. Mature red maple seeds are ready to plant when they are picked and require no preparation before planting.
  • Plant a seed in your pot of growing medium, burying the seed 1 to 2 inches below the soil's surface. Place your pot in a sunny location, and water it regularly. Water often enough to keep the soil moist without saturating the soil. Red maple seeds typically germinate within 10 days of planting.

Red Maple Propagation with Stem Cuttings

  • Prepare a growing medium made from equal parts of sand, peat and perlite. Pour the mixture into a plant pot with drainage holes to create a rapidly draining growing medium for your stem cutting.
  • Locate a stump with growing shoots during the early summer months just after the red maples have finished seeding. Select a healthy stem that is between 6 and 8 inches long, and remove it from the stump at the base of the stem using a knife.
  • Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the stem you selected. Make a shallow incision about an inch long on each side of the base of the stem. Pour a small amount of powdered rooting hormone into a plastic bag, and dip the tip of the stem into the hormone, covering the incisions near the base.
  • Plant the stump stem in the rooting medium you prepared, covering the bottom 3 inches of the stem with soil. Water the growing medium lightly to keep the soil moist. Place your stump cutting in a partially shaded spot and mist the leaves of the stem twice a day to prevent the stem from drying out before it can establish new roots.

How to Care for Red Maple (Acer Rubrum)

Red Maple Lighting Requirements

Red Maple (Acer Rubrum) can flourish in full sun. Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day. But it can also tolerate partial shade

Red Maple Soil Care

Red Maple (Acer Rubrum) prefers acidic to neutral soils, and won't do well in alkaline conditions. Red maples grown in alkaline soil will yield pale leaves and stunted growth. While red maple can live in a range of soils, it cannot tolerate salt.

Red Maple Watering

Red Maple (Acer Rubrum) prefer somewhat moist soil but will grow fine in dry soils provided you are willing to irrigate them regularly (slow, deep watering is the ideal). Once established, make sure the soil remains moist—a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree will help. Make sure the tree gets a deep watering each week, either by irrigation or by rainfall; do not let the soil dry out.

Red Maple Temperature & Humidity Care

Red Maple (Acer Rubrum) can survive in both dry and moist areas ranging from dry ridges to bogs. It can grow on mountainous areas, swampy areas, and along streams. While it does require some cooler weather, it is found as far north as Newfoundland and as far south as the Carolinas.

Red Maple Fertilizer

Fertilizer should be applied to the red maple's root zone. Since roots spread far beyond the tree's canopy, you'll need to determine the amount of soil to fertilize. This is accomplished easily by multiplying the diameter of the tree's branch spread by 1.5. Spread 15 pounds of 20-5-5 fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of root zone in the spring, before the tree produces new growth. Apply the fertilizer evenly across the surface of the soil.

Red Maple Pests & Diseases Care

There are no serious insect or disease problems with Red Maple (Acer Rubrum) but they are occasionally susceptible to verticillium wilt, anthracnose, cankers, leaf spot, or tar spot. Aphids, borers, and scale may appear as insect pests. In drought conditions, the trees may exhibit leaf scorch. Red maple doesn't tolerate street salt or soil compaction very well, so avoid using it as a boulevard or street tree. Be wary of damaging surface roots and bark with lawn equipment. The bark on red maple is relatively thin, and young trees can be damaged by lawnmowers and weed trimmers.

Varieties of Red Maple (Acer Rubrum)

A few other popular varieties include:

Autumn Blaze

This tree has a rounded form and produces beautiful, long-lasting, orange-red fall foliage.

Burgundy Bell

A smaller tree, Burgandy Bell produces unusual burgundy-red fall leaves.

Scarlet Sentinel

This columnar variety is a fast-grower with yellow-orange fall foliage.


A faster-growing variety, Schlesingeri produces long-lasting, deep-red autism leaves.

Red Maple (Acer Rubrum) FAQ

After planting, the leaves of the red maple are wilting. Is the tree dying?

If your red maple has been afflicted with a fungal disease, Verticillium wilt, then it is probably dying due to the disease. If it is a temporary shock from being planted then it should spring back. Just as long as there's enough moisture in the soil or if it wasn't damaged during planting.

Can I plant red maple trees in the spring?

Yes. Besides planting red maples in the fall, you can also plant them in early spring (March or April).

What do I use to fertilize a red maple?

You should use a 20-5-5 (all purpose) fertilizer for your red maple.