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How to Care for a Red Maple Tree

By Jennifer Loucks ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 Will Need

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

About the Author


Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.