How to Care for Red Leaf Maple Trees

Overview

Red leaf maple trees (Acer rubrum) have an attractive oval shape and strong wood. They are desirable trees for their hardy nature and relatively fast rate of growth, according to information published by the University of Connecticut. Regardless of the common name of the tree, not all cultivars feature red fall foliage. Some have yellow or bronze leaves in the fall. Red Sunset is one cultivar that is known for its scarlet autumn leaves. These trees are highly adaptable to even adverse growing conditions, making them an excellent choice for any home gardener looking for a deciduous shade tree.

Step 1

Check the soil around your red leaf maple tree. It should be consistently moist. These trees will grow on just about any type of soil--even sandy soil--as long as it is wet. Red maples can even tolerate extended flooding conditions, according to information published by the University of Florida. Water the tree by hand during periods of extended drought.

Step 2

Mulch around the tree. Lay down a thick layer (3 to 4 inches) of mulch that extends out to the edge of the tree's canopy, but do not let it touch the trunk of the tree. This will help the soil retain moisture and prevent weed growth.

Step 3

Make sure your red maple is getting at least some sunlight. These trees grow well in either full sun or part sun and part shade. Deep, dark shade will not allow the colors of the leaves to develop to their full potential.

Step 4

Prune the tree each spring, removing dead or damaged wood. In addition, remove any branches that form very tight angles or grow vertically close to the trunk, as these can break in the wind. Do not let any branches grow thicker than the trunk, or the tree may break apart completely, according to information published by the University of Florida.

Step 5

Monitor the tree for insect pests. There are many that can infest red leaf maple trees, including aphids, scales, mites and borers. Heavy infestation may need to be treated with repeated applications of insecticide. In addition, check the base of the tree for roots that may be growing around the trunk. Such roots can slowly choke the life from the tree, cutting off the supply of nutrients and causing the tree to die from the crown downward. Remove the roots from around the trunk using pruning tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering tool
  • Mulch
  • Pruning tools
  • Insecticide

References

  • North Carolina State University: Acer Rubrum
  • University of Florida: Acer Rubrum
  • University of Connecticut: Acer Rubrum

Who Can Help

  • National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: Acer rubrum care, red leaf maple, growing maple trees

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.