How To Care For A New Maple Tree?

How to care for a maple tree

Belonging to the Acer Genus, Maples are known for their beautiful fall colors in yellow, gold, and red. There are over 100 Maple tree species, and the plant adds an enchanting visual appeal to your yard or garden.


Many trees even show several colors at once. Majorly belonging to Asia, Maples are found in North Africa, Europe, and North America. Maple’s popularity in America is unprecedented, so much so that the three Maple varieties – Rocky Mountain, Big Leaf, and Vine Maple, are native to Oregon.


Once you know how to take care of maple tree, Maple works as a specimen tree. They are also excellent privacy and shade trees. Smaller varieties are perfect for installation in the entranceway and porch.


Maples are forgiving and drought tolerant deciduous trees. It implies that they drop their leaves during autumn. However, there are also some varieties native to Southern Asia’s warm climate that do not shed their leaves.


This guide will help you learn how to care for a Maple tree sapling so that it grows well. Excited to know? Read below to find out.


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How To Care For A New Maple Tree?

Read all the care guidelines below to learn about them in detail.


1. Location and spacing

Before learning Maple care tips, you need to know how to grow them right. While planting, please be careful with the soil quality and a location with partial shade or full sun.


Before you plant the sapling, dig a hole and learn how to care for a Maple tree sapling?  It should be about three feet deep. The roots need about four feet to spread. Now, water the soil to keep the root ball moist.

As you insert the sapling into the hole, keep the root ball’s top over the existing soil line. Once inserted, you can refill the soil back into the hole around the root ball.


Now to know how to care for Maple seedlings, you need to pack the soil together with your hands to eliminate any air pockets. Once planted, water the plant deeply around the base to keep the soil saturated.


Maple trees like water. So, if you tend to forget to water the plant, you can add a mulch layer of an inch or two. It helps retain the moisture, keeps weeds away, and reduces the plant’s moisture needs.


However, keep the mulch away from the trunk as that can increase the susceptibility to diseases and pests.


Spacing is a vital concern when learning how to take care of Maple trees. Generally, when you space the trees, you need to consider their probable canopy width. The University of Florida recommends keeping at least twenty-five feet gap between two Maples.


2. Temperature


Maple trees grow in USDA 3 through 9. How to care for a new Maple tree’s ideal temperature needs. Maple trees prefer a moist and temperate environment.


During the winters, they survive the winter temperature of about -18 degrees Celsius or zero degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer months, the Maple seeks a temperature of 10 degrees Celsius or 60 degrees Fahrenheit.


But, their preferred temperature range is between -40 degrees Fahrenheit to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.


If the temperature drops below -40, it can be dangerous for the plant. Though the freeze does not harm Maples in their dormant state, if the plant is in its active growth phase, cold can cause branch dieback or kill the leaves.


Hence, to winterize the plant, you can apply a four-inch mulch layer at the root. It will guard them against winter damage. Watering before the start of the winter is also an excellent way to help the Japanese maples survive the cold weather.


3. How much water does a Maple tree need per day?

If you want to learn how to care for a Maple tree, you should be thorough with the plant’s watering needs. Maple trees love water, but overwatering the plant can also be dangerous. Hence, you need to be careful with the watering frequency.


Most Maples can thrive in 11 gallons of water per week. However, if you do not give the plant adequate water, it can result in leaf scorch or wilting. It is a giveaway sign of drought stress.


Wilting typically starts from the top and travels down. So, as soon as you note it, water the plant immediately. Maples need slow but deep watering. The water should seep into the soil and reach about 10-inches below the surface to properly hydrate the roots.


However, do not water too often or too much. If you cannot decide when to water next, touch the topsoil before the next watering. If it feels dry, rewater immediately.


4. The best soil for Maple trees

Maples seek an acidic environment. Also, you need to look for nutrient-rich soil. So, if you wish to learn how to take care of Maple trees, be careful about the soil where you plant your Maples.


In general, soil quality plays a vital role for every plant, especially when planting a young Maple.


5. Sunlight and humidity

If you don’t know how to care for Maple seedlings, they will not thrive well. Choosing the spot that receives ample sunlight is vital for the plant’s growth. However, fortunately, Maple trees can thrive in several different lighting conditions.


But, partial to full sun exposure is best for the maples. The degree of sunlight a plant receives depends on its location. So, your Maple will enjoy the full sun if you live in cooler zones. But, if you reside in warmer conditions, it can do well in partial sun and shade.


Excessive sun exposure in a warmer climate can wilt the plant. On average, a Maple tree needs six hours of sun. But, even eight to ten hours of sun can work for the plant in colder regions.


Maples love environmental humidity. Hence, during the winters, when the outside air is dry, you can consider misting the plant frequently to avoid drying the leaves.


6. When to fertilize a Maple tree?

Fertilizing is an important part of how to care for a new Maple tree guide. If you grow your new Maple in an active growing season, fertilizing it is vital. However, you can delay the feed if you plant it in the dormant season.


Feeding the plant is essential for its growth and maintenance. Ideally, you must fertilize the Maples after the fall, when the leaves have fallen.


As the winter approaches, the root continues to grow in this cool soil. It continues till the temperature is 40 degrees. The growing roots require nourishment. So, they suck the nutrition and store it for use during the growing season (spring).


However, if you experience warm winters, the plant may show some out-of-the-season growth. In this case, you can apply fertilizer in March to prevent cold damage to the fresh shoots.


You should never fertilize a drought-stressed plant. Fertilizers tend to suck water. Also, after fertilizing, water it deeply and thoroughly. Also, opt for a balanced fertilizer. If the feed has a high nitrogen content, it can boost the upper-canopy growth, which is challenging for the plant to support.


7. How to Prune Maple Trees?

Is pruning important to learn how to care for a Maple tree? Yes, it is! Pruning is an essential aspect of the plant’s visual appeal. The beautiful Maples drop their leaves in the fall. It is when the branching structure becomes more structured.


Most people consider trimming during this time. For almost every deciduous plant, this is the apt time to prune. You can remove the interfering, dying, or dead limbs. But, such is not the case for Maples.


Trimming or cutting the Maples during this time can wound the plant, resulting in sap bleed. Though it does not kill the plant, it can make it susceptible to diseases and pests. So, unless you tap the sugar Maples to extract Maple syrup, you should avoid trimming the Maples during spring and winter.


So,  how to take care of maple tree’s pruning needs? Mid-summer is the best time. During this time, the leaves turn dark green and have expanded wholly.
You might also like to know about pruning maples in winter

8. Maple tree diseases/problems and care

Here are some of the common diseases that may affect your Maples.


A. Maple Wilt

Verticillium dahlia or Verticillium albo-atrum are the prevalent causes of Maple wilt. These are fungi present in the soil and are a severe concern, which can even kill the matured Maples.


It commences in the roots and spreads through the sapwood across the tree, eventually killing the plant. Typically, Maple Wilt can kill a plant within a year or two of the plant showing signs.


The only way to curtail the spread is by destroying the infected tree. However, you can trim the infected branches when the damage is not grave. When the healing starts, water the plant frequently.


B. Anthracnose


Anthracnose is another prevalent disease caused by fungi like Kabatiella, Discula, and Aureobasidium. Its symptoms vary in Maple species and the kind of fungus that infects the tree.


Usually, you see the signs in early summer or late spring, but with time, symptoms will also appear in the growing season. It can result in blighted shoots and leaves, leaf spots, and dieback of young branches and twigs.


Typical signs include irregular, large, and dead spots on the leaves, usually V-shaped. In case of severe infection, the fungus causes the entire maple leaf to change its color and appear blighted and wrinkled.


For management, you can use a multifaceted approach. Good cultural and sanitary practices can help. Remove all the fall leaves during the winter to decrease the spores that infect emerging leaves during the growing season. Proper pruning, fertilizing, and watering can also help.


C. Tar Spot


These black spots vary in size – usually as small as a pin-prick to as big as a half-dollar. It is common in autumn and late summer and is an outcome of the fungi like R. punctatum, R. americanum, and Rhytisma acerinum, which hide in the leaf debris.


Sugar, Sycamore, Silver, and Norway Maples are susceptible to Tar Spots. It is majorly a cosmetic disease and does not severely damage the plant. So, cleaning any dead leaves can be a viable solution.


D. Sapstreak

It is a fungal disease and mainly affects sugar Maples. Unfortunately, it is a fatal disease, and no salvage is possible. You can identify it by the discoloration in the wood. It also makes the crown’s foliage smaller. Hence, the plant develops bald spots.


It is a prevalent disease in Maples growing in Vermont, Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina. To overcome it, you should cut the tree instantly when you notice the problem. The problem spreads through insects attracted by the wounds on the plant.


Variety Specific Care Tips for Maples

Let us focus on how to care for a maple tree that belongs to a specific variety. More or less they need the same type of care, but whatever specialized attention they need, we tell you about it here.


How to care for a Japanese Maple tree?

It is easy to care for a Japanese Maple. Avoid inducing the plant to stress and give it adequate water. If there is no rain, water it deeply, especially around the root zone, for the water to absorb into the plant.


The soil should have an excellent drainage system. During the winter and the fall season, you can cut back on the plant’s watering requirements. However, add a two to three-inch mulch layer into the soil. It helps keep weeds away and enables the plant to retain moisture.


Weed is one of the biggest Japanese Maple killers, only after overwatering. So, remove the turfgrass, and replace an inch of composted bark mulch or groundcover plants. Prune the plant once a year, but do not do it during the active growing season.


Trim the plant in the late winter before buds open up. Make neat and corrective cuts to avoid wounding the plant. You can feed the plant with low nitrogen fertilizer in spring. However, do not fertilize after May, or you may impede.


How to take care of Red Maple tree?

Red Maples are sun-loving plants that thrive in the full sun but can tolerate partial shade too. You can plant them in acidic to neutral soil. Red Maples want their soil to be moist but not soggy.


Hence, the plant prefers slow but deep watering instead of regular watering. After establishment, keep the soil moist throughout. Adding an organic mulch can help the plant retain its moisture level. This Maple variety can survive in both damp and dry areas. They will grow well along streams, swampy areas, and mountainous regions. Even though they enjoy cooler weather, they can also survive temperate climates.


Red Maples do not need regular fertilization. However, using a general-purpose fertilizer in the spring is enough. These Maples do not love pruning, but you can prune once a year to maintain the plant’s visual appeal in autumn or at the end of the summer.


Red Maples are not susceptible to insects, but crankers, anthracnose, tar spot, and verticillium wilt can be dangerous for the plant. So be vigilant, and act promptly if any of these appear.


How to care for a Chinese Maple tree?

Chinese Maples are a rare find, but if you plant one in your yard, they will steal all the attention. It is redder than red and put all other Maples to shame. The plant grows 30-40 feet tall and thrives in USDA hardiness 7A to 9.


For proper care, keep adequate space between two plants. Also, Chinese Maple enjoys deep and slow watering. They are fast growers. Hence, plant them in an area where Chinese Maples have ample room to grow. The plant needs full sun to achieve its full color and bloom.


The plant loves water, but not too much. Chinese Maples do not need a high feed. However, before fertilizing the plant, perform a soil examination, and check what the soil lacks to cater to the deficiency. Prune the plant during dormancy, preferably in winter or late fall. You can trim the drying and dead shoots or branches to maintain the plant’s visual appeal.


How to care for Autumn Blaze maple tree?

Autumn Blaze is often one of the tallest trees in the landscape. But, it is not very selective with light requirements. It likes full sun but can thrive in partial shade, too, especially if planted in warmer regions.


But, for the tree to achieve its bright color, you plant it in a spot where it receives ample sunlight. The plant likes well-draining soil. It can adapt to clayey and sandy soil, but it must be well-drained. Autumn Blaze can grow fine in soil deficient in nutrients but thrives only in fertile and moist soil.


Like other Maples, even the Autumn Blaze enjoys an acidic environment. So, you can add peat moss and organic matter during the plantation.


In addition, the plant needs ample water to establish itself. But, if you see the leaves falling prematurely or turning brown, it may be a sign of underwatering. Autumn Blaze is versatile and can survive in different climatic conditions, from high humidity to high heat and even freezing weather


You can use a 12-4-8 or a 16-4-8 fertilizer. Prune it bi-annually, preferably in summer or late spring, for sunlight to seep into the interiors. Get rid of all the weak and dead limbs responsible for winter breakage.


Lastly, shield the plant from scale, flathead tree borers, and mites. If you see any infestation sign, immediately treat the plant with liquid lime sulfur or insecticidal soap.


Related: How long do maples live?

FAQs About How To Care For A Maple Tree

Ques 1. Can you grow Maple trees in pots?

Ans. Popular varieties like Japanese Maples are widely grown in containers and pots. So, if you have a fire escape, a patio, or a porch, you can install your Maples there. The Maples can thrive in the pots, provided you expose them to the necessary care.


Ques 2. How can I improve my Maple tree health?

Ans. Some reasons for a Maple tree’s poor health include:

  • Underwatering or overwatering
  • Lack of feed
  • Excessive feed
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Lack of light
  • Poor soil quality
  • Pest attack


To better the plant’s health, you need to ascertain the reasons for its poor health and make up for it. For instance, if underwatering is the cause, you need to water it, and vice versa.


Ques 3. How to care for a Maple tree sapling?

Ans. Some tips for caring for a Maple tree sapling are:

  • Plant them in acidic, nutrient-rich soil with a pH not lower than 7.3.
  • Use fertilizer for the newly planted sapling to thrive.
  • Add mulch to keep weeds at bay and help the soil retain water.
  • Water it adequately
  • Water in the evening or early in the morning to lower the chance of evaporation.
  • Unless necessary, do not prune in the first year.


Ques 4. How often should I water Maple seedlings?

Ans. Maple trees require 11 gallons of water per week to promote proper growth. The requirement is even more amongst the young Maples, especially in warmer climates. Give the plant a few gallons every few days instead of watering daily. If you cannot decide when to water next, touch the topsoil. If it feels dry, rewater.


Ques 5. How fast do Maple seedlings grow?

Ans. Ideally, Maples grow about 24 inches in a year or lesser. An average Maple is about 75 feet high and 50 feet wide upon maturity. However, the plant needs at least four hours of sun for proper growth.


Ques 6. How do you transplant Maple seedlings?


  • Ideally, plant the saplings between September to mid-October. Do not wait until spring for transplantation.
  • Pick the right planting spot where the plant receives ample sunlight.
  • Remove all the surface litter and dig a hole for inserting the seedling. Keep the whole two times wide and 1 ½ time deep.
  • Wet the pot, insert it, and tap the bottom to remove the sapling from the container.
  • Place some fertile soil at the planting hole’s bottom before you center the sapling in the hole.
  • Water it adequately till it starts coming out from the drainage holes.
  • Using the shoe’s toe, form a saucer-shaped depression around the sapling to tighten the soil around the sapling.
  • Grasp the stem, and try to pull upwards to check if the sapling is set. If you feel resistance, it is good to go.
  • Add some soil mulch to enable the roots to retain water and keep weeds at bay.