What is one of the most popular trees in the back (or front) yard? What is one of the most populous trees in the United States? You guessed it, the maple tree. Maple trees provide cooling shade in the hot summer, and a beautiful splendor of color in the fall. With lots of varieties, shapes, heights, and leaf colors, maple trees are one of America’s favorite trees.
Maples are deciduous trees, offering varying degrees of shade. They can be found almost anywhere in the world where trees can grow. There are approximately 128 varieties of maple trees. Most varieties are native to Asia. Others are native to North America, Europe, and the northern sections of Africa. The most popular varieties are Sugar Maple, Silver Maple, Red Maple, and Japanese maple.
Some maples drop their seeds in the spring, while others shed them in the fall. We all know maples for their profuse “Helicopter” or “Whirlybird” seed drops.
Maple trees are versatile and have many uses:
Plant height: Usually, 20 – 65 feet, depending upon variety. The tallest maple trees can grow up to 100 feet.
Plant Hardiness Zones: 5 – 10
Botanical Name: Acer
Maple trees are propagated from seeds. Most often, we go to the garden store to select young maple trees for our yards. But, some people prefer to start them from seeds. Is that you? Then, here is how you do it……..
Starting maple trees from seeds:
Do not dry the seeds, or they will die.
The most common method of starting maple seedlings includes cold stratification. This is a period when the seeds are chilled before planting. It signals the seed to sprout.
Place a mixture of vermiculite and peat moss into a sealable baggie. Add just a few drops of water, to get a moist mixture. It should not be wet. Squeeze out excess moisture. Some people spray a little fungicide into the mixture. Put 20 -30 maple seeds into the middle of the mixture. Seal the baggie, then put it into the refrigerator for 90 to 120 days. Check it every week or so, watching for mold to develop. Remove any material that begins to mold. This is the biggest problem with starting maples from seed. After the seeds have sprouted, plant them into seed pots. Allow them to grow indoors if possible, in plenty of sunlight. The following spring, plant them out in your yard after the last frost in your area.
Buy Maple Trees – Live trees, bushes, and shrubs, hundreds of varieties
Potted trees from the garden store can be planted any time during the growing season, but not too close to the fall. Give it some growing time, to establish roots.
Transplanted maple trees should be relocated in the spring. The bigger the tree, the harder it is to successfully transplant them. When transplanting maple trees, it is important to get as much of the root system as possible.
Select a sunny location where you want to grow the tree.
Planting Tip: Do not plant the tree too near a driveway or sidewalk. The big, strong roots near the surface can uplift driveways and sidewalks.
The soil in the planting area should be neutral to slightly acidic. The Ideal pH range is: 6.0 – 7.5. More on ph.
Dig a hole 4 times the size of the root ball, and 4 times as deep. Set the soil aside.
Mix in plenty of compost and/or peat moss.
Set the root ball into the hole with the top just below the rim of the hole. Fill the hole with the soil you removed, tamping the soil down gently.
Water the young tree thoroughly and deeply. Apply additional water for the first few weeks, only if it is dry in your area.
You may want to stake the young saplings for the first year, to assure it remains completely upright.
Apply a layer of mulch around the trunk, to keep weeds down and create a tidy appearance.
Ideal Soil pH: 5.5 – 7.3.
Maple trees are easy to grow.
The trees need a little water for several weeks after planting or transplanting. Once they have established their root system, they will grow and thrive for decades, with little or no care.
Pruning plants, especially when young, will help them to grow full, and in the shape you desire.
Prune trees in the spring. Remove suckers and dead and diseased branches. Cut them off close to the trunk or branch.
Prune branches of young trees, to help maintain a full, round shape.
Also remove branches that can become a threat to power and telephone lines, to your house or other structures.
IMPORTANT: For your personal safety, do not remove branches that are close to, or hanging over power lines. Call the utility company for this task.