Growing the Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

All the Basic Information You Need to Grow Red Maple Trees

Red maple tree
Photo taken by Bong Grit/Moment Open/Getty Images

Overview of the Red Maple

If you like the color red, this is the tree for you. This tree features red flowers, samaras, leaves (in early spring and fall) and stems (winter).

Sap may be tapped from the red maple for syrup, but the window is short compared to sugar maple.​

Latin Name

The scientific name for this maple is Acer rubrum. It is in the Sapindaceae (soapberry) family.​

Common Names

This tree has many common names.

Besides red maple, it is also called swamp maple, water maple, Drummond red maple, scarlet maple, Carolina red maple, trident red maple and soft maple.​

Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones

If you live in USDA Zones 3-9, the red maple should grow well. This species originally comes from Eastern North America.​

Size & Shape of the Red Maple

This maple tree will be 30-100' tall and 25-50' wide at maturity. The shape is oval or rounded.​


Plant your tree in a location that receives full sun or partial shade.​

Foliage/Flowers/Fruit of the Red Maple

The leaves start out with reddish highlights as they unfurl, changing to green. In autumn they turn to red, orange or yellow.

From March to May, small red flowers appear. The trees can be either dioecious or monoecious.

The little, winged fruits are called samaras. Those of this species are a scarlet color.​

Design Tips For the Red Maple

This tree works well for adding four season interest to your yard.

Many parts of this tree are red and stand out in the garden, including stems that turn red by the time winter arrives.

Fall colors will be especially outstanding on the 'Autumn Flame', 'October Glory' and 'Red Sunset' varieties.​

Growing Tips For the Red Maple

This tree struggles when placed in alkaline soil and may develop chlorosis.

You can try making the soil more acidic, but it is best to move it if possible or choose a different tree when first planting.​


You usually do not need to prune much once you have created a central leader. Do not do any pruning until the end of summer or in autumn as this tree tends to bleed sap.​

Pests & Diseases of the Red Maple

Possible pests include:

  • Aphids
  • Columbian timber beetle (Corthylus columbianus)
  • Cottony maple scale (Pulvinaria vitis)
  • Elm spanworm (Ennomos subsignaria)
  • Deer
  • Gall mites
  • Gallmaking maple borer (Xylotreehus aceris)
  • Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar)
  • Linden looper (Erannis tiliaria)
  • Maple callus borer (Synanthedon acerni)
  • Maple leaf scale (Pulvinaria acericola)
  • Oystershell scale (Lepidosaphes ulmi)
  • Red maple spanworm (Itame pustularia)

Possible diseases include:

  • Anthracnose
  • Crown galls
  • Leaf scorch
  • Phytophthora cankers and rots
  • Tar spot
  • Verticillium wilt