Sugar maple, known botanically as Acer saccharum Marshall, and more commonly as Rock Maple, is a large deciduous forest tree that produces the sap from which maple syrup is distilled. Sugar maple wood is finely grained, very hard and prized for use in woodworking, furniture, flooring and decorative objects. Young sugar maple seedlings and saplings grow roughly one foot each year; are sensitive to drought, freezing temperatures and animal grazing; and benefit from protection from all three.
Prevent sun scald to the young seedling trunks and bark by wrapping them with a light-colored commercial tree wrap in canvas or plastic that will repel the sun. Put the wrap in place in the late fall before the first hard frost occurs. The wrap will keep the tender trunk tissue at a more even temperature. Each winter, wrap seedlings and saplings that are up to 5 years old.
Protect your sugar maple seedlings from ice, snow and ground heaving by mounding the planting area with 3 to 5 inches of organic mulch such as compost or leaf mold. Covering the mulched seedlings with a Styrofoam rose cone. Weigh down the edges with stones and remove it in the spring when the ice and snow have dissipated and the last hard frost has passed.
Keep the soil evenly moist year round so that the seedling does not experience drought stress and can cope with changing environmental conditions including heat, wind and sun. If the leaves appear even slightly shriveled at the margins, check the soil moisture, as more water may be needed.
Protect your sugar maple seedlings from deer and other animal foraging by erecting wire mesh cones over the seedlings. Wrap square pieces of hardware cloth or a double layer or chicken wire into an ice-cream cone shape and invert over the top of the seedling. Anchor the cone into place with metal wire U-shaped stakes or pins or with stones.