Maple trees are known for their fall colors, and the Amur maple certainly lives up to this reputation. With a variety of names like "Flame" and "Embers," this small tree (or large shrub) will set your yard ablaze in autumn with its red or orange leaves. These two varieties, along with "Red Wing," also have red samaras or seeds with wings often called wingnuts or whirlybirds. The green leaves are 1 1/2 to 4 inches long. They feature three lobes with the side lobes being shorter than the middle lobe. Fall colors will be green, red, or orange depending on the variety. In April and May, panicles of small fragrant white flowers are produced.
Planted in yards for their burst of color, they are also useful for controlling soil erosion and windbreaks. Windbreaks can help during harsh winter conditions by absorbing some of the impact of winter storms and reducing home heating costs during winter months.
- Botanical Name: Acer ginnala or Acer tataricum subsp. ginnala
- Common Name: Amur maple or Siberian maple
- Plant Type: Deciduous tree or tall shrub
- Mature Size: Grows about 30 feet tall with a trunk about 8 to 16 inches in diameter
- Sun Exposure: Can grow in full sun to shady conditions
- Soil Type: Clay, loam, sand, well-drained
- Soil pH: Acidic or neutral
- Bloom Time: Spring
- Flower Color: White
- Hardiness Zones: 3 through 8
- Native Area: Northeast Asia
How to Grow Amur Maple Trees
The Amur maple works well in the urban garden. It is on the smaller side so that it can fit in most people's landscapes. This tree can handle some shade, salt, and drought.
If your chosen spot has full sun or part shade, it will provide the best type of sunlight for your new tree. Better fall colors will come from trees in full sun.
The Amur maple tree can tolerate a wide variety of soils, poor soil fertility, and is pH adaptable. It might be best to choose a site with an acidic or neutral pH. If the soil is too alkaline, it can cause the tree to develop iron chlorosis. Make the soil more acidic as needed.
The tree also prefers to have moist soil that drains well. It is moderately drought tolerant.
Temperature and Humidity
The Amur maple grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 3 through 8, which means it can tolerate low temperatures and ice and snow. It prefers cold to hot and grows best where summer temperatures are not high and where humidity is low. If it has too much moisture, and it can develop leaf spots or is more prone to disease.
Fertilizer is generally unnecessary for Amur maple trees growing in lawns and gardens—particularly if those areas receive regular feedings. However, you might want to give fertilizer to a newly planted Amur maple. Use about 1 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. The trees commonly grow 12 to 24 inches a year until they reach their mature height.
Propagating Purple Waffle Plants
New trees can be propagated by seeds that have been soaked in water for a day and stratified for a few months. They can also be grown from cuttings, which is necessary to preserve the characteristics of varieties since seeds may not be true to type.
- Cuttings: Stem cuttings of young shoots should be done in June or July. The cuttings should consist of two to three pairs of leaves and one pair of buds on the base. Trim the cuttings below the lowest node to remove the lower leaves leaving three or four at the tip. A rooting hormone may be applied to improve rooting before planting. Insert the cuttings in the rooting medium up to half their length; the leaves should not touch. The cuttings should root in two to three weeks, and then can be potted.
Prune and train the tree in winter to have a single trunk if desired by choosing a central leader. If you leave it as a multi-trunked shrub, it can be pruned and trained for use as a hedge. The Amur maple tree has the potential to be invasive depending on the area.
For the most part, this maple species is generally free of pests. 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:
- Two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae)
- Crown gall (Agrobacterium tumefaciens)
- Giant tar spot (Rhytisma acerinum)
- Iron chlorosis
- Leaf spots
- Phytophthora cankers and rots (Phytophthora spp.)
- Verticillium wilt (Verticillium spp.)