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Maple Trees to Plant for Fall Foliage

15 de august de 2023

There’s nothing shy about maple trees in autumn. They scream for attention and beg you to take a picture. Depending on the variety, maple trees can turn a glowing gold, brilliant orange, or glorious red. Do you need a big shade tree for the middle of the lawn or to line the street? How about a small accent tree to shade a bench, patio, or courtyard? We have recommendations for choosing your own showstopping maple tree for every situation and climate.

Sugar Maple

  • Botanical Name: Acer saccharum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
  • Soil Type: Clay, loam, sand, well-drained, moist
  • Soil pH: Acid, neutral

This is the tree that gives Vermont its maple syrup, but it also shines in the South in USDA Zones 6–8. Some have golden fall foliage, but the ones that really turn heads flaunt leaves of reddish orange. They grow at a moderate pace to 60 feet tall or so with a tidy, oval-to-rounded shape.

In Texas and Oklahoma, plant a selection called «Caddo,» which tolerates dry, alkaline soil better than the species and can be grown in Zone 9. Elsewhere, plant «Green Mountain,» «Legacy,» or just an unnamed sugar maple that shows good color at the nursery. The subspecies chalk maple (subsp. leucoderme) and Florida or Southern sugar maple (subsp. floridanum) are often recommended for hot and humid climates.

Red Maple

October Glory Red Maple Tree

  • Botanical Name: A. rubrum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
  • Soil Type: Clay, loam, sand, well-drained, moist
  • Soil pH: Acid, neutral

,Combining silvery bark, quick growth, and yellow-to-red fall foliage, red maple grows as big as sugar maple with a loose, pyramidal shape. This shade tree adapts to most soils up to Zone 9 in the South, but doesn’t like drought. Plant «October Glory» for outstanding scarlet fall color.

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple, japanese maple tree

  • Botanical Name: A. palmatum
  • Sun Exposure: Dappled sunlight
  • Soil Type: Well-drained, high organic matter, moist
  • Soil pH: Acid, neutral

Upright Japanese maples grow slowly to 15 to 25 feet, often with multiple trunks, and some with deeply divided, lacy leaves. Green, burgundy, or red leaves turn blazing yellow, orange, or scarlet in late fall. Our picks are «Bloodgood,» «Emperor I,» «Glowing Embers,» «Sango Kaku,» and «Seiryu.» Japanese maples can grow in Zones 5–8.

Fullmoon Maple

Fullmoon Maple in Fall

  • Botanical Name: A. japonicum
  • Sun Exposure: Dappled shade, part sun, full sun
  • Soil Type: Moist, well-drained
  • Soil pH: Acid

,A relative of the Japanese maple, the fullmoon maple also grows best in well-drained, moist soil, eventually reaching 20 or 30 ft. Fullmoon maples can handle full sun in cool, moist conditions, but are less heat-tolerant than Japanese maples—the tree doesn’t perform well in zones warmer than 7. Grow «Aconitifolium» for crimson red leaves in fall.

Paperbark Maple

Paperbark Maple in Fall

  • Botanical Name: A. griseum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, part shade
  • Soil Type: Clay, loam, sand, well-drained, moist
  • Soil pH: Acid, neutral, alkaline

,Paperbark maples are grown for their handsome exfoliating bark, which curls back to expose multiple layers of cinnamon-brown, orange, and burgundy. But the tree also has beautiful fall color, with leaves that turn later than other trees and that can persist into the winter. The small tree grows to 20 or 30 ft., making it a good accent tree, but it doesn’t tolerate drought or climates warmer than Zone 8.

Trident Maple

Trident Maple in Fall

  • Botanical Name: A. buergerianum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Clay, loam, silt, well-drained, moist, occasionally dry
  • Soil pH: Acid, netural

,Trident maples are grown in full sun along a street or to shade a patio, where they can eventually reach 35 ft. These trees are attractive yearround due to exfoliating gray bark that peels back to expose the light orange bark below. The simple three-lobed leaves add to the show in fall, turning a brilliant gold, orange, or red. «Streetwise» is a good choice for those seeking brilliant red color in Zones 5–9.