How to Grow and Care for October Glory Maple

Reddish-orange maple tree with rounded canopy.

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The October Glory maple tree is grown mainly for its beautiful fall foliage, which is reddish-orange to red. But its dense, rounded canopy and shiny, green leaves in spring and summer make it an attractive specimen plant for three seasons of the year. A cultivar of the red maple (Acer rubrum) native to North America, this tree offers more reliable fall color than the species plant. The October Glory maple tree matures quickly under the right conditions. This mid-sized shade tree is pollution-tolerant, so it is a good choice to grow along a busy, urban street. Likewise, it adapts to a wide variety of soils, including nutrient-poor soils, making it a friend of low-maintenance lovers. If you would like to enjoy an October Glory in your own yard, the best time to plant one is in late fall; learn how to care for it in this article.

 Common Name  October Glory maple tree
 Botanical Name  Acer rubrum 'October Glory'
 Family  Sapindaceae
 Plant Type  Deciduous tree
 Mature Size  40 to 45 feet tall and 30 to 35 feet wide
 Sun Exposure  Full sun to partial sun
 Soil Type  Well-drained
 Soil pH  Acidic
 Hardiness Zones  4 to 9
 Native Area  North America (species)

October Glory Maple Tree Care

This tree is relatively easy to care for, but there are a few caveats to keep in mind. For example, its bark is thin, making it easy to damage during the course of property maintenance (mowing, string trimming, etc.). Wounds to the bark can allow pathogens to enter and lead to disease issues. Also, since it is not particularly drought-tolerant, it will require reliable irrigation at the southern end of its range, especially in a well-drained soil.

Light

October Glory maple tolerates partial shade, but it likely will produce superior fall color if grown in full sun. However, the further south you go in its range, the more it can profit from a bit of afternoon shade, especially before it has become established.

Soil

October Glory will survive whether its soil is a perfect loam mix, a heavy clay, or sandy. But in sandy soil, it will require extra watering. Despite being relatively tolerant in its soil needs, there are a few soil conditions to avoid when growing the October Glory maple tree. For example, do not grow it in alkaline soil if you want red fall color: You will get pale yellow leaves instead of the bright red that you want. Likewise, this plant does not tolerate salty soil well. So, while October Glory maple tree is tolerant of urban pollution, it is not tolerant of the salt often used on rural routes to melt the snow and ice in winter. It may perform poorly if grown as a street tree in such areas. Nor is it the best choice for seaside communities, where salt-tolerant pin oak (Quercus palustris) is a better option for red fall color.

Water

October Glory maple prefers evenly moist soil. It can even tolerate soggy soil for brief periods (for instance, during seasonal flooding); indeed, one of the common names for the species plant is "swamp maple." But it will grow better with good drainage over the long term.

Temperature and Humidity

This tree is valued for its cold-hardiness. It tolerates the heat and humidity of the South and may perform reasonably well in zone 8. While it can survive in zone 9, there are better choices there.

Fertilizer

Do not fertilize your October Glory maple tree during its first year while it is trying to become established. Even after that, maple trees generally do not require much fertilizing. But if an older tree is losing its vigor (or if you want your specimen to grow especially fast), you can give it a boost by applying a slow-release, nitrogen-rich fertilizer once a year. However, before amending your soil in any way, always perform a soil test (or send out for one to your local county extension) to determine what kind of help your soil needs.

Types of Maple Trees

Maple trees, whether the natives such as Acer rubrum and their cultivars or the Japanese maples (Acer palmatum), are among the most popular landscape trees in North America. They are especially valued by lovers of fall color, although the Japanese maples, in particular, often offer much more, including striking forms. But be careful when selecting a tree that is right for you because maples vary in size and fall leaf color; some species may even be invasive in your area. Examples of maple trees are:

  • Autumn Blaze red maple (Acer x freemanii 'Autumn Blaze'): The foliage is similar to that of October Glory; it grows 40 to 55 feet tall, 30 to 40 feet wide.
  • Inaba Shidare Japanese maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Inaba Shidare'): The foliage starts out dark purple in spring, turns purplish-red by summer, and changes to bright red in fall. This small tree stands 12 to 15 feet tall and wide and has a weeping form.
  • Crimson Queen Japanese maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Crimson Queen'): Besides the foliage color for which the tree is named (crimson throughout summer, turning scarlet in autumn), this dwarf tree (8 to 10 feet tall by 10 to 12 feet wide) is another that sports a weeping form.

Pruning

Any pruning that you do should be minimal and performed when the branch in question is still small. Prune off any branches that form very narrow angles with the trunk or other major branches because wide angles are stronger and help you avoid breakage from storms. Make your pruning cut just outside the branch collar to help the tree close its wound. The best time to prune is at the end of summer or in autumn; the tree tends to bleed sap when pruned in spring.

Propagating October Glory Maple Tree

October Glory maple tree is not generally grown from seed, but you can grow a new specimen from an old one by rooting a cutting, which is a frugal way to add more of it to your landscape. Here's how to propagate October Glory maple from cuttings:

  1. Prepare by gathering your supplies: pruners, work gloves, rooting-hormone powder, potting soil, a clear plastic bag, sticks, isopropyl alcohol, and a container.
  2. Fill your container with potting soil and poke a 2-inch-deep hole in the middle. Water the soil and set it aside.
  3. Sterilize your pruners with isopropyl alcohol and take the cutting. The tip of a healthy-looking branch with new growth is best, and the cutting should be about 4 inches long.
  4. Strip off any leaves that may be present on the bottom half of the cutting, leaving two leaves on the top half.
  5. Using a blade from your pruners, scrape off 2 inches of the bark from the bottom of the branch, all the way around.
  6. Dip this now-bare, 2-inch section of cutting in the rooting-hormone powder and insert it into the hole that you poked in the soil.
  7. To create a greenhouse tent, suspend a plastic bag over the container using sticks.
  8. When the cutting takes root, remove the tent and transfer the container to a sunny window.
  9. Acclimate your sapling by taking it outside during the day and bringing it inside at night for 10 days. Once it hardens off, plant it in the desired location.

Overwintering

October Glory maple tree is cold-hardy to zone 3. North of that, apply a 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the tree to insulate its root zone. But avoid piling the mulch up against the trunk, which would invite damage from pests such as voles.

In late fall, prune off any dead, damaged, or diseased branches. Do not fertilize your tree in fall: You want to discourage new foliar growth that would only be damaged by cold temperatures in winter.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

October Glory maple tree stays relatively free of pest and disease issues. But when a problem does arise, take the necessary steps to keep your specimen in the best possible shape; here are two examples:

Leaf Spot

Regularly inspect the leaves of your plant so that you can promptly detect the presence of pests and diseases. One disease to be on the lookout for is leaf spot, which takes the form of brown spots on the leaves. A fungal disease, leaf spot often appears first on the lower limbs of the tree, where humidity is highest. Leaf spot does not usually harm the health of your October Glory maple tree or require the use of potent fungicides, but it does mar its appearance (something you do not want on a specimen plant). Remove affected branches when you find them so that the disease does not spread. Going forward, use preventive measures:

  • Ensure proper spacing to promote better air circulation.
  • Water in the morning. This gives the sunlight all day to dry out the area.
  • Water at ground level, thereby avoiding moistening the leaves.
  • Practice proper sanitation when putting the garden to bed in the fall.

Scale

At first, you may not recognize scale as an insect pest because it does not move much, making it look like an inanimate lump. When you inspect the leaves, check the undersides for these brownish, scabby pests. They suck nutrition out of your plant but are easy enough to treat with an insecticide such as organic Neem oil.

FAQ
  • Is October Glory maple a good choice for fall color?

    Yes. This plant is one of the best picks as a fall foliage specimen. Not only is its excellent color reliable, but it also retains its leaves until later in the fall than do some types of maple.

  • Is October Glory a fast grower?

    Yes. This tree is a good choice if you can't wait decades for curb appeal.

  • How do October Glory and Autumn Blaze maple trees differ?

    While they are both cultivars of Acer rubrum and excellent choices for fall color, October Glory has larger leaves than Autumn Blaze.