Maples, from the genus Acer, are deciduous trees cultivated for shade and brilliant fall color. Like any tree, it must bloom, pollinate and produce seeds to ensure survival of the species. Some maple trees flower before leaves appear in spring, and their flowers are inconspicuous and small. Like any tree, maples need the right levels of sun, moisture, soil nutrients and temperature in order to bloom. If your maple tree isn't flowering, chances are one of these is inadequate.
If your maple tree fails to bloom, think back over the previous winter and early spring. Extremely cold weather is not usually the problem; it's the occasional frigid cold snap that kills the flower in the bud. Several nights of below freezing temperatures can delay flowering until the following year. Note whether leaves appear on the tree. If they don't, then your maple has more serious problems.
Review what type of fertilizer you are using on the lawn near the tree or on the tree itself. Lawn and tree fertilizers contain a great deal of nitrogen, which causes a burst of foliage growth but can inhibit flowering and fruiting. Maples can get all the nutrients they need from even poor soils and do not need tree fertilizer. Determine the root zone of your maple by measuring out from the trunk to the tip of the widest horizontal branch, and avoid using fertilizer in that area.
Observe the maple at various times of day to see how much light it receives. Maples generally require full sun to grow and flower vigorously. If the maple receives insufficient light, it will produce fewer or no flowers. Cut back other foliage if the tree is heavily shaded, particularly if the surrounding trees are evergreens like pine, fir or cedar.
Prune maple trees sparingly, removing only dead or diseased limbs, or limbs that block sidewalks, windows or driveways. Maples are generally resistant to pests and diseases and do not need pruning except for maintenance. Maples that are pruned too severely will not bloom the following year. The tree's energy will go to healing pruning wounds instead of flowering and producing seeds. Avoid pruning more than a third of a maple's canopy in any given year.
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