Selecting a healthy tree can challenge homeowners, and choosing the wrong tree can be an expensive mistake. Red Sunset maple trees grow in hardiness zones 4b to 8--encompassing much of the United States--and are highly recommended for Southern states by the U.S. Forest Service. Mature trees can grow up to 50 feet tall by 40 feet wide. They retain red leaves throughout the year. Select a Red Sunset maple tree in the spring and plant it just after purchase.
Call garden centers and nurseries near you to see whether they sell Red Sunset maple trees. Create a list of nurseries that sell this type of maple tree so you can target your shopping trip.
Visit the nursery to pick out your tree. Most maple trees are sold either as container trees or as balled and burlapped trees. The selection process of choosing a healthy tree is the same for either type.
Rule out Red Sunset maple trees in damaged containers as well as trees that appear too large for their containers. This may indicate pot-bound trees, suggests the University of Nebraska Lincoln. These usually develop poorly.
Inspect the tree's trunk and branches for signs of damage, such as dead or broken branches. These trees will not have leaves, so you're only inspecting the limbs. Scrape the surface of a branch with your fingernail to reveal the tissue underneath. Healthy tissue will be light green, while dead tissue will appear brown. Do not purchase trees that don't have straight trunks. Avoid trees with branches clustered around one side of the trunk; select trees with branches that are spread out instead.
Ask a nursery employee to help you unwrap a balled and burlapped Red Sunset maple tree or pull a container tree from its container so you can examine the tree's roots. Select a maple tree that has plenty of firm, pale roots. The roots should not feel mushy, appear dark brown or smell bad.