How to Grow and Care for Amur Maple

Set Your Yard Ablaze in Autumn

Maple tree changing colors

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Maple trees are known for their fall colors, and the Amur maple certainly lives up to this reputation. This small tree (or large shrub) will set your yard ablaze in autumn with its red or orange leaves. The tree has samaras or seeds with wings often called wingnuts or whirlybirds. The 1 1/2- to 4-inch long leaves have three lobes, with the side lobes being shorter than the middle lobe.

Fall colors are green, red, or orange depending on the variety. In some varieties, the samaras are also red. The tree produces panicles of small fragrant white flowers in April and May.

Plant this fast-growing tree either in the the spring or fall.

Common Name Amur maple, Siberian maple
Botanical Name Acer ginnala, Acer tataricum subsp. ginnala
Family Sapindaceae
Plant Type Tree, shrub
Mature Size 15-20 ft. tall, 15-30 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Loamy, sandy, clay, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 3-8 (USDA)
Native Area Asia
Sunlight through maple leaves
The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova
Maple tree from a distance
The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova
Maple tree without leaves
The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Amur Maple Care

Amur maple is valued for the burst of color it adds to a yard. It is on the smaller side so that it can fit in most residential landscapes and even urban settings. This compact tree can handle some shade, salt, and drought. It is low-maintenance but it may be affected by a variety of diseases.

Amur maple can be useful for controlling soil erosion and as windbreaks to help during harsh winter conditions by absorbing some of the impacts of winter storms, as well as reducing home heating costs during winter months. 

Warning

Amur maple is considered an invasive species in the Northeast and Midwest of the United States where it has invaded natural areas. A single tree produces up to 5,000 seeds annually which spread mostly nearby but can also be carried farther way by wind and water. Check before planting whether there are any restrictions to plant Amur maple in your state.

Light

Amur maple can be grown in partial shade but it does best in full sun. Fall colors are also brighter if it receives full sun.

Soil

The Amur maple tree can tolerate a wide variety of soils, including poor soils. It is best to choose a site with an acidic or neutral pH.

Water

The Amur maple tree prefers moist soil that drains well. It is moderately drought tolerant.

Temperature and Humidity

The Amur maple grows best in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8, which means it can tolerate low temperatures, ice, and snow. It prefers cold to heat and grows best in moderately warm summers where humidity is low.

Fertilizer

Fertilizer is generally unnecessary for Amur maple trees growing on lawns and in gardens—particularly if those areas receive regular feedings. However, you might want to give fertilizer to a newly planted Amur maple. Use about one cup of a well-balanced 10-10-10 granular fertilizer around the base of a newly planted Amur maple in the early spring after fall planting, or six to eight weeks after spring planting, to encourage rapid growth. Apply the same amount in early summer and again in early fall in the tree's first year, watering it in well after each application.

Varieties of Amur Maple

Popular cultivars of Acer ginnala include:

  • 'Compactum', a compact, 7-9 ft. tall cultivar with fragrant flowers and orange fall foliage
  • 'Flame', with an upright growth habit, a rounded crown, low canopy (4 feet from the ground), and red fall foliage
  • 'Embers', a cultivar with red samaras and blazing red fall leaf color
  • 'Red Wing', another cultivar with brilliant red samaras and red fall foliage

Pruning

Amur maple can be pruned to a tree with a single trunk or a multi-stem shrub. For a tree, chose a central leader. If you leave it as a multi-trunked shrub, it can be pruned and trained as a hedge.

Propagating Amur Maple Trees

If you want to propagate an Amur maple, the recommended way is from cuttings because it preserves the characteristics of the parent plant. Propagating the tree from seed may result in a tree that is not true to type.

  1. Using sharp, clean pruner, take stem cuttings of young shoots in June or July. The cuttings should consist of two to three pairs of leaves and one pair of buds near the cut end.
  2. Trim the cuttings below the lowest node to remove the lower leaves, leaving three or four at the tip. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone.
  3. Insert each cutting in a pot filled with potting mix up to half its length; the leaves should not be buried.
  4. Place the cutting in an outdoor location with indirect light and keep it evenly moist. It should start to root in a few weeks. Keep the cutting in the pot for at least two seasons until it has grown into a healthy, sturdy sapling before transplanting it in your yard.

Potting and Repotting

If you would like to grow Amur maple in a container, choose a compact or dwarf cultivar. Select a container that is about twice the size of the root system (or the nursery pot it comes in) and heavy enough so it does not topple over. Also make sure the container has large drain holes.

Potted trees require more frequent watering than trees in the ground. Follow the guidelines for watering potted plants.

After a few years the tree might need repotting. Transplant it to a container that is one size up from its current pot.

Dwarf Amur maples can also be grown as a bonsai.

Overwintering

Amur maple is a hardy tree that does not need any winter protection, with one big exception. When it is grown in a container, winter freeze can kill the roots. Leave the container outdoors but insulate it with burlap and bubble wrap, or build an insulation silo around it.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Amur maple is prone to several pests and diseases. If you notice holes in your trunk that are lined up, you might have a yellow-bellied sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) in the neighborhood. You can use woodpecker deterrent methods to help keep your trunk healthier. Other pests include aphids, borers, and scales.

Diseases like giant tar spot (Rhytisma acerinum) and leaf spots are possible but are not serious problems for the Amur maple. More serious potential diseases include:

  • Anthracnose: This fungus can cause defoliation if severe. It can be avoided by destroying the diseased parts of the plant early, or by applying fungicides or by controlling the insects that spread the fungus to other plants or different parts of the same plant.
  • Crown gall (Agrobacterium tumefaciens): A bacterial disease, it causes round, wart-like growths—two inches or larger in diameter—to appear at or just above the soil line, or on lower branches and stems. Plants with several galls may become weakened, stunted, and unproductive. Young plants can be killed by developing gall tissue. Sometimes existing galls can be removed with a sharp pruning knife but unless the bacteria is eliminated from the soil, it can spread to other plants. So it may be best to remove and destroy the diseased plant.
  • Phytophthora cankers and rots (Phytophthora spp.): Diseases are caused by the Phytophthora fungus which lives in the soil. Symptoms include early fall color or pale green leaves, reduced size of leaves and shoots, and bleeding of a reddish-brown colored liquid from the stems. Remove infected branches as soon as possible to control spreading.
  • Verticillium wilt (Verticillium spp.): This disease causes the branches of the tree to wilt or die. Very rarely the infected sapwood will be stained dark or olive green in color. If the infection is severe, the tree cannot be saved; however, if the infection is in the early stages, pruning the infected branches and fertilizing the tree can help to save it.

Common Problems with Amur Maple

When the leaves turn pale yellow or white, Amur maple may have iron deficiency, which occurs in plants grown in alkaline soils or poor-draining soils. Changing the soil pH around an established plant can be tricky but you can add a chelated iron fertilizer to the soil, or spray the foliage with ferrous sulfate to give the tree more iron.

FAQ
  • Does Amur maple have invasive roots?

    Amur maple is considered an invasive not so much because of its roots but because of the way its numerous seeds (in the form of winged samaras) are spreading into natural habitats and taking a foothold there, choking out native species.

  • How fast do Amur maples grow?

    The trees commonly grow 12 to 24 inches a year until they reach their mature height.

  • Where is Amur maple native to?

    The tree is native to China, Manchuria, Mongolia, Korea, and Japan.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Amur Maple. Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

  2. Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus Varius)-Hort Answers - University of Illinois Extension.” Illinois.edu. N.p., n.d. Web.

  3. ENH-173/ST014: Acer Ginnala: Amur Maple.” University of Florida Extension Office. Ufl.edu. N.p., n.d. Web.

  4. Fact Sheet ST-14: Acer giannala.” University of Florida Extension Office. Ufl.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 

  5. Anthracnose [Trees and Shrubs] (Many Genus and Species Involved)-Hort Answers - University of Illinois Extension.” Illinois.edu. N.p., n.d. Web.

  6. Crown Gall (Agrobacterium Tumefaciens)-Hort Answers - University of Illinois Extension.” Illinois.edu. N.p., n.d. Web.

  7. Phytophthora Canker, Basal Rot, & Root Rot [Shrubs and Trees] (Phytophthora Spp. [Water Molds])-Hort Answers - University of Illinois Extension.” Illinois.edu. N.p., n.d.

  8. Recognizing and Treating Iron Deficiency in the Home Yard. The University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cooperative Extension.