So named because of the glorious red autumn foliage color, October Glory is among the most popular red maples for use in ornamental landscapes, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Able to prosper in well-draining sandy, loam or clay soils that have organic matter, it becomes a well-shaped tree worthy of display in casual garden and formal landscape settings. Grow this variety best in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 4b through 9a.
October Glory maple was selected and granted U.S. plant patent #2116 in 1961. It is a cultivar of red maple (Acer rubrum) native to southeastern North America, introduced by William "Bill" Flemer III of Princeton Nursery in Allentown, New Jersey.
Quickly growing into an upright, oval-canopied deciduous tree, October Glory reaches a mature height of 40 to 50 feet and spread of 25 to 35. In very early spring, the red-tinted twigs bear non-showy flowers that collectively create a heightened fluffy reddish display. After pollination by the wind, winged seeds called samaras slowly ripen to reddish green as the three-lobed green leaves mature. In autumn, these leaves reliably turn a vivid orange-red to scarlet before dropping off.
Tolerant of soggy soils, October Glory maple grows nicely on any fertile soil that is not alkaline in pH. Once established, it tolerates droughts with little harm although infrequent, deep irrigation will help retain more foliage in extremely dry periods, especially in regions with hot summers. Locate the tree in a full sun exposure where it will experience at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. Abundant light encourages a well-shaped branching structure and leafy canopy as well as more intense fall foliage coloring.
Grow this nicely shaped maple tree as a lawn shade tree for a park, campus or spacious residential plot. It also makes an attractive street tree when planted in wide median strips or right-of-ways. Its tolerance of wet soils makes it a fine choice for lowland glens on properties or at the edge of ponds or streams.
The root systems of all red maples tend to grow close to the soil surface and may protrude to cause tripping hazards or interfere with lawnmower cutting blades. Turf and other garden plants may not be easy to establish under a red maple tree because of these numerous roots. As red maples mature, the roots can crack and lift hardscape materials like sidewalks, pavers and asphalt. Do not plant October Glory in restricted-edge, narrow planting beds.