How to Plant a Crimson King Tree


The Crimson King tree, or Norway maple, is a popular tree for the home landscape, prized for the colors of its lush foliage. In summer, the purple-tinted leaves make the tree an eye-catching center of attention as it provides welcome shade on hot days. The show continues in autumn, as the foliage turns bronze or dark maroon before the leaves drop off in early winter. The Crimson King tree makes a dramatic return in spring with maroon and yellow blooms.

Step 1

Purchase a healthy, young Crimson King tree at a reputable greenhouse or nursery. Look for a tree with a sturdy, straight trunk and branches that grow up and out in a balanced shape. Avoid trees with dead or weak branches or branches that cross other branches.

Step 2

Choose a site for the Crimson King tree. The tree will grow in full sun or partial shade, and is tolerant of any soil, as long as it's well-drained. Do not plant Crimson King too near a lawn, as it will compete with grass for available moisture and nutrients. The tree's shallow roots also make mowing very difficult.

Step 3

Dig a hole for the Crimson King tree. The hole should be two to three times wider than the width of the tree's root ball, but not quite as deep.

Step 4

Remove the Crimson King tree from its container. If the root ball is burlapped, remove any strings or wires and fold the burlap down about halfway. Don't let the burlap extend above the soil once the tree is planted, because it will wick moisture away from the root. If the root ball is wrapped in synthetic burlap, remove it completely. Unlike natural burlap, it won't decompose.

Step 5

Hold the trunk straight, and plant the tree in the hole. Situate the tree so one-third of the tree's root ball rests above the soil. Fill the hole halfway with the reserved soil, and then let a garden hose run slowly in the hole until it's filled with water. Once the water has drained, finish filling the hole with soil. Tamp the soil down lightly with your foot as you go to eliminate any air pockets.

Step 6

Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree. Mulch retains moisture, enriches the soil and controls weeds. However, don't apply mulch within 6 inches of the Crimson King's trunk. If it piles up against the trunk, it can invite pests and disease.

Step 7

Stake the tree only if it's planted in an area where it will be exposed to strong wind. Trees left unstaked develop a stronger, sturdier trunk. If necessary, install a wooden or metal stake next to the tree, and tie the tree loosely to the stake with soft twine or a nylon stocking. Stake the tree low on the trunk so the top of the tree is free to sway in the wind.

Step 8

Keep the tree well-watered during its first year. Water deeply once a week rather than more frequent, shallow waterings. After the first year, rainfall should be adequate moisture, although supplemental watering can be beneficial during hot, dry weather.

Things You'll Need

  • Young Crimson King tree
  • Shovel
  • Garden hose
  • Organic mulch
  • Wooden or metal stake (if necessary)
  • Soft twine or nylon stocking (if necessary)


  • U.S. Forest Service: Acer platanoides 'Crimson King' Figure 1. Middle-aged 'Crimson King' Norway Maple. 'Crimson King' Norway Maple
  • University of Florida Extension: Acer platanoides 'Crimson King': 'Crimson King' Norway Maple
  • American Forests: How to Plant a Tree
Keywords: crimson king tree, Norway maple, landscape tree

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.