How to Care for a Red Maple Tree


The red maple tree, also called swamp maple or scarlet maple, is a fast growing deciduous tree with green foliage in the summer that turns to red and yellow in the fall. The tree is hardy to plant in USDA growing zones 4 through 9 as it winters well in cold climates and will grow to height of 60 feet. Plant red maple trees in the spring season to give the roots enough time to establish before the winter season.

Step 1

Select a planting location for the red maple tree that has a well-draining soil and partial shade sun conditions.

Step 2

Test the soil pH of the planting area with a home soil pH test kit. The red maple tree prefers an acidic soil with a pH of 3.7 to 7.0. Apply ground rock sulfur to the soil to lower the pH number. Let the soil rest for 2 weeks before planting the tree.

Step 3

Dig a hole that is the same depth as the root ball and four times the width. Water the root ball to loosen the roots and gently spread the roots while placing the tree in the hole. Gently pack soil around the root ball, making sure the tree is standing straight.

Step 4

Water the tree well after planting to pack the soil in place and stimulate root growth. Water established trees when the rainfall is less than 1 1/2 inches per week as the maple tree prefers a moist environment.

Step 5

Fertilize red maple trees with a slow release fertilizer tablet during the first growing season. Fertilize established trees with a 10-10-10 fertilizer twice a month during the spring season and once a month during the summer growing season. Do not fertilize the tree in the fall.

Step 6

Pull weeds around the tree in a two-foot diameter the first growing season. Apply mulch around the tree after the first growing season.

Step 7

Winterize the red maple tree by applying a generous amount of water to the root area to saturate the roots before the ground freezes.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil pH test kit
  • Ground rock sulfur
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Slow-release fertilizer tablet
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • University of Florida: Red Maple
  • Tree Help: Maple Trees
  • Fast Growing Trees: Red Maple Trees
Keywords: grow red maple, red maple tree care, plant red maple tree

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.