How Fast Do Sugar Maple Trees Grow?

Sugar maple tree growth rate

Also known as Rock Maple or Hard Maple, Sugar Maple is a giant tree from the Sapindaceae or the Soapberry family. It is a landscape specimen. So, if you plan on growing sugar maple trees in your yard or garden, you should know that you have a brilliant choice because these are easily the best-loved plants on the continent. It is Canada’s national tree, and its leaf is its emblem.


In addition, four places where do sugar maples grow have opted for it as the top-loved state tree – Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and New York. Native to eastern North America, Sugar Maple is a shade tree. It has widely grown in popularity as an ornamental tree. It is also famous for the liquid gold that resides within them – the sap.


We are here to tell you all about sugar maple tree growth rate, the best soil for sugar maple trees, uses of these amazing trees and so much more in this guide.
So why wait?
Let’s dive deep into this sweet tree and discuss their uses, ideal growing conditions, and much more.

Jump To


How Fast Do Sugar Maple Trees Grow?

Horticulture experts categorize their growth rate as slow to medium, when you meet optimum sugar maple soil requirements.
But how fast or slow is it?
Well, they can grow somewhere between a foot to two feet in a year and reach their mature height in 30-40 years. However, the growth rate depends vastly on care when growing the trees.

But, experts do not recommend tapping the sugar maple till it reaches 10-inches in diameter at breast height. The tree yields higher liquid every year as it grows. Some continue to generate sap for as long as a century.


Is It Easy To Grow Sugar Maples?

Now that you know that sugar maple tree growth rate is slow to moderate, you need to ensure that you expose it to the right conditions necessary for it to proliferate. But fortunately, growing sugar maple trees is easy. You can see your plant thrive if you know exactly:

  • Where do sugar maples grow?
  • How to plant a sugar maple tree?
  • When to plant sugar maple trees?
  • And, the best soil for sugar maple trees


Fortunately, maple trees are effortless to grow and maintain. They are forgiving also. So, it should not be problematic to have them in your yard.


Growth Requirements For Sugar Maples

The sugar maple tree growth rate depends on where you plant them. Naturally, if planted in the right soil, it thrives. The planting space also determines how fast do sugar maple trees grow.


Ideally, the plant can grow in several different climatic zones from USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 8A. You need to offer full sun growing sugar maple trees. However, they can thrive even in partial shade.


But how to plant a sugar maple tree correctly? Keep reading to know more on this.


A. Soil requirements

Not sure where do sugar maples grow best? Perform a soil assessment, and plant them in a spot that meets the sugar maple soil requirements. Fortunately, the sugar maple can grow in several different soil conditions.


But, the best soil for sugar maple trees is a well-drained one. The plant can also grow in sandy, loamy sands, and silt loams, but unfortunately, the shallow, dry soil do not suffice for them.


Now the question is – alkaline or acidic soil, which one do they prefer? The plant can grow well in strongly acidic soils (pH 3.7) to slightly alkaline (pH 7.3). However, the ideal soil is between 5.5 to 7.3 pH.


B. Temperature and humidity

Climatic conditions decide how fast do sugar maple trees grow. Sugar maple tree growth rate will be excellent if you grow it in a proper hardiness zone as therein, the temperature will be suitable, and your plant can thrive. But, there are some cases where the temperature does play a crucial role in growing sugar maple trees.


The best time to plant sugar maple trees is in the cool weather, typically in winters or fall. The time of harvesting sap also depends on the climatic conditions.


The plant should experience a swaying climate of warmer days (approximately 40 degrees F) followed by cold nights (about 20 degrees F) in early spring or late winters. This oscillating high and low temperature exerts pressure within the tree, resulting in sap flow.


C. Sugar maple water requirements

Now, you already know the best soil for sugar maple trees. So, clarity on the plant’s watering needs is also vital for sugar maple tree growth rate. When you plant the maples, water the sapling thoroughly. So, until establishment, water it at least twice weekly.


But, the water requirements depend on the growth stage. Ideally, you can commence with five gallons of water and add five more for every trunk diameter inch, measured four feet off the ground.


Once established, the plant’s watering requirements change. At this time, the plant no longer needs incremental irrigation. You can water it with one-inch water every week. If you cannot decide when to water the plant next, touch and access the topsoil. If it feels dry, it is time to water the plant again. Both overwatering and underwatering can interfere with a plant’s growth.


D. Fertilizer

Even though the sugar maple soil requirements are pretty specific, they are not heavy on fertilizer. You can grow a plant even without fertilizing it in the growing season. But you can also prefer adding fertilizer if the soil lacks nutrition.


For growing sugar maple trees, you can feed them with a slow-release dedicated fertilizer, designed exquisitely for trees and shrubs.


E. Pruning

Pruning also influences the sugar maple tree growth rate. Sugar maples tend to drop their leaves automatically, resulting in the branching structure becoming more evident. It might motivate some growers to prune their plants in the winter.


Of course, the ideal time for pruning most deciduous trees is when they are dormant and branches become more visible. But, such is not the case with sugar maples.


In winters, pruning can result in wounds, causing sap bleeding. Hence, no matter where do sugar maples grow, the ideal time for trimming the plants is mid-summer. During this time, the maple leaves are dark green and well-expanded. However, if any dead branches are hanging onto the tree, you can remove them at your convenience.


F. Tapping

Maples should mature before you can tap them, sans any damage to the tree. Hence, before tapping, measure the tree at its shoulder height. It should be 25.4+ cm in diameter for the first tap, 45 cm for the second, and 60 cm for the third.


So, this is all about the care guidelines. If you offer proper care to the maple, the plant can live its wholesome life.


Planting a Sugar Maple

It is important to learn how to plant a sugar maple tree right even when you think you have the best soil for sugar maple trees. Here is a step-by-step guide for your reference.


A. Browse through different locations, and select an area with good drainage

Where do sugar maples grow best? Pick a sunny spot that does not hold onto the water during rainfall. Also, sugar maples are robust as they mature. So, take note of the power lines, buildings, and trees in the vicinity.


B. Dig a drainage test hole

Start digging a hole that is about one-foot square and one foot deep. Fill water in it, and let it sit for 60 minutes. If you find water in the hole after this duration, it indicates poorly-draining soil. So, you should move the plant to a spot with good drainage .


C. How to plant a sugar maple tree in the hole?

Now, it is time to insert the seedling into the hole. You may come across three situations:


1. The seedling was previously grown in a container – Herein, cut the container sides and peel them back to expose the root ball. Please remove the root ball from the container, and insert it into the hole.

2. Seedling wrapped in synthetic burlap – Insert it into the hole after cutting the burlap.

3. Seedling wrapped in organic burlap – Insert it as it is into the hole.


D. Fill the hole around the seedling

While you fill in all the excess space in the hole around the seedling, keep it firm and straight. Collect the soil around the root ball, and back it closes together. Do it cautiously to prevent root damage.


The idea is to fill seventy-five percent of the hole’s depth. After this, if there is any exposed burlap in the top twenty-five percent, you can take it down. Now, pour water, enabling the soil to settle and eliminate excess trapped air.


E. Add a mulching layer

Once the water drains, fill the hole with soil and about three to six-inch mulching bed around the trunk’s base. It can help keep weeds at bay and aids in lowering the plant’s watering requirements by retaining the moisture.


F. Do not fertilize

You do not have to fertilize the sugar maple during the coming growing season. For growing sugar maple trees properly, you can add a 10-10-10 fertilizer next spring and every subsequent year.


Best Time For Planting Sugar Maples

The best time to plant sugar maple trees also affects how fast do sugar maple trees grow. We enlist some factors that will help you decide when to plant sugar maple trees.


A. Season

Please do not plant the sugar maples in spring because the roots do not have ample time to establish. Also, avoid planting sugar maples during summers because excessive heat and water stress can hamper growth.


The sugar maple tree growth rate is the best at moderate temperature. These will need sufficient time to develop a root system before the growing season commences.


Ideal temperature where do sugar maples grow best depends on its variety as well. Some maples are native to warmer regions. In this case, you can delay the plantation until winter, but on the contrary, some sugar maples are native to colder places. For them, the idea of plantation time is early fall.


B. Time of the day

In all honesty, you can plant your maples at any time of the day. But, how to plant a sugar maple tree so that it gets a healthy start?


Be careful if planting in spots with an intense afternoon or midday sun. They are sensitive to heat and might experience sunburn or wilt in these areas. So, if the sun gets harsh, you can consider painting the branches and the trunk with white latex paint.


You can also add a mulching layer to keep the soil cool. Repeatedly water the plant to avoid heat stress and dehydration.


Sugar Maple Lifespan

Maple trees usually have a long lifespan. But how long does a sugar maple tree live? Well, sugar maple is a long-lived plant. It can live for as long as three decades. Many sugar maples have also survived four centuries.


Sugar Maple Height: How Tall Does It Get?


The sugar maple does not grow very tall keeping in mind how fast do sugar maple trees grow. The trees have an average height of 60-75’ with a spread of 40-50’ at maturity.


How Do You Make Sugar Maples Grow Faster?

Do you want to improve the sugar maple tree growth rate? If you wish to make your sugar maples grow faster, you must expose them to the right growing conditions. Keep in mind where do sugar maples grow best and plant accordingly. We have already mentioned the necessary conditions above.


If you follow them to the T, the plant will thrive. In addition, sugar maples also need ample space to grow without competition. So, plant the maples in a wide area at a distance from other trees.


Further, consider eliminating the shrubs and the trees that grow around the sugar maple. It ensures excellent growing conditions for the plant. Also, do not tap the maple till it reaches the stated diameter.


Lastly, guard it against the pest as these trees are prone to fungus, bacteria, insects, and mammal attacks.


So, on average, how long does a sugar maple tree live? If you know how to plant a sugar maple tree and meet the sugar maple soil requirements, this long-living plant can survive for four centuries.


Sugar Maple Uses

They are rich in sugar content, implying that you do not need an exceptionally high degree of it for maple syrup production. In addition to maple syrup, sugar maples are commercially viable for hardwood lumber, and maple sugar proves useful for furniture manufacturers.


It helps make flooring. Beyond it all, sugar maples also add a visual appeal to the landscape, courtesy of their foliage. Their medium to dark-green foliage turns red or burnt orange in the fall.


Related: Japanese Maple Types|All About Red Maple Trees|Laceleaf Japanese Maple Types


Frequently Asked Questions

Ques 1. How big do sugar maples get?

Ans. The sugar maple does not grow very tall. They have an average height of 60-75’ and a vast spread of 40-50’ upon maturity. Hence, they are the perfect shade specimen in the landscape.


Ques 2. How far apart should you plant sugar maples?

Ans. You must plant maples at least 30 by 30 feet apart in the best soil for sugar maple trees, enabling up to 60 trees per acre for optimal growth and production.


Ques 3. Do sugar maples have deep invasive roots?

Ans. No matter where do sugar maples grow, they do not have an invasive root system. The roots have a pretty moderate growth when the sugar maple soil requirements are met.


Ques 4. What are sugar maple seed’s benefits?

Ans. Sugar maple seeds help treat diarrhea, cough, and sore eyes. It also works as an excellent kidney and liver tonic cleanser.