How to Grow Autumn Blaze Maple Trees

Fall foliage color of Autumn Blaze maple tree.

Brian North / Getty Images

Autumn blaze maple trees boast both beautiful fall foliage and a shapely form, making them the ideal pick for landscaping large areas. The autumn blaze maple tree is a hybrid of the red maple tree and the silver maple tree, both native to North America. Their branch pattern is dense and ascending, and they sport a rounded or oval crown. Maturity comes quickly for the autumn blaze maple tree—they can grow as fast as two feet per year under the right conditions. Come fall, their leaves turn to a brilliant orange-red.

Botanical Name Acer x freemanii (Jeffersred) 'Autumn Blaze'
Common Name Autumn blaze maple tree, Freeman maple
Plant Type Tree
Mature Size 40–55 ft. tall, 30–40 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full sun, partial shade
Soil Type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Does not flower
Flower Color Does not flower
Hardiness Zones 3–8 (USDA)
Native Area North America

Autumn Blaze Maple Tree Care

Like many large landscape trees, autumn blaze maple trees need little care. Primarily, you must keep the soil around their roots moist while they are still young. Likewise, they only need pruning every three to five years in late spring or early summer. Fertilizing is also not really a necessity if you plant them in soil that is already moderately fertile.

Autumn blaze maple trees can function in your landscape as fast-growing shade trees and as specimens highly valued for their colorful fall foliage. They're also pollution-tolerant, an important factor if you will be growing them along a street in a busy neighborhood. As with other trees deemed suitable for urban areas, they can adapt to a wide range of soil conditions.

However, these large trees can suffer from structural weakness. The tree may crack easily at branch unions during strong storms, leading to loss of branches. Regular pruning helps keep the tree's structure sound. While their strength and their tolerance for pollution are useful qualities, it is their fast-growing nature and beauty in fall that ensures them a place among the best landscape trees. The only drawback: The autumn blaze maple is shallow-rooted so, over time, the roots may stick up out of your lawn.

Light

Because autumn blaze maple trees are often one of the biggest plants in the landscape, it's rare that they'll be shaded by other varietals. Luckily, they're not super picky when it comes to sunlight. They appreciate full sunlight but can thrive just as well in partial shade, especially if planted in warmer temperatures. In full sun, they're produce the best autumn color.

Soil

Planting your autumn blaze maple tree in soil that drains well is important. Though they can tolerate poor soil, the more moist and fertile their soil blend is, the more your tree will thrive. When initially planting your tree, dig a hole that's three to five times as big as your tree's root ball and make sure the top of your tree's root ball is even with the soil line. Make sure to plant your tree at least 15 to 20 feet away from your home in order to avoid any damage to your foundation from its spansive roots.

Water

When your autumn blaze maple tree is young, it will need lots of water to help it get established. Keep the soil evenly moist through their root zones in the first year; once established, your tree will be drought tolerant and will likely do just fine with whatever rainfall your location provides. If you notice the leaves are turning brown or falling from the tree prematurely, that could be a sign that your tree isn't getting enough water.

Temperature and Humidity

The autumn blaze maple tree can handle almost anything you throw at it, including a range of temperatures, from near freezing to high heat and humidity. Because of this flexibility, you'll rarely need to worry about weather conditions when it comes to your maple tree.

Fertilizer

Fertilizing your autumn blaze maple tree 4 times per year with a 7-4-4 all purpose plant food.

Maple Tree Varieties

Maple trees are among the most popular landscape trees, especially because of their splendid fall foliage. Be careful when selecting a maple: not all have red leaves in the fall, and some are considered. invasive. There are many other popular cultivars, hybrids, and brands of maple trees, all of which give you the fall color you crave:

  • Big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum): This tree boasts yellow or yellow-orange foliage come fall.
  • Amur maple (Acer ginnala): This species is considered invasive in North America.
  • 'Armstrong': This varietal can grow to be taller than autumn blaze (up to 70 feet), but has a narrower spread, giving it a distinctly columnar shape.
  • 'Marmo': This varietal also has a columnar shape, but a less-pronounced one.

Pruning Autumn Blaze Maple Tree

The ideal time to prune your autumn blaze maple tree is in late winter or early spring when the tree is dormant. Regular pruning (every few years or so) helps the tree to keep its shape and prevent major breakage during storms or other unruly weather.

Common Pests and Diseases

There are a few sure signs that something is up with your autumn blaze maple tree, and one is the state of its leaves. If you notice they start to acquire brown spots, that's usually a sign of a disease called leaf spot. Luckily, it can typically be rectified by spraying fungicide on the tree.

Alternately, pests can also be an issue for the autumn blaze maple, including scale, mites, and flathead tree borers. If you notice any telltale signs of an infestation (like brown spots on the leaves, or lesions on the trunk or branches), treat the tree with an insecticide until all signs of infestation have disappeared.