Maple trees in autumn

Newly Planted Autumn Blaze Maple

Your tree will slowly come out of dormancy when it is ready.It may take a few weeks.

Maple trees have shallow roots that can damage paved areas and house foundation if they are planted to closely to your house or sidewalks. Eventually your Autumn Blaze maple will grow 40-60 feet tall and 40-50 feet wide. At maturity, it will have an oval to rounded crown with ascending branches and a well-defined central leader. This tree is not as susceptible to storm damage as silver maple because it has superior crotch angles and a well-balanced branching habit but still has the weaker wood characteristic of the silver maple. Did you consider the tree’s “full-grown” size? When the tree nears maturity, will it be too close to your house or other structures? You should plant as far as 25 feet from the house to insure room for growth. Avoid planting shallow rooted maples tree species near sidewalks. Reserve trees that mature higher than 50 feet for areas with at least eight feet between paved areas. This allows adequate space for the tree roots.

Create a doughnut shaped organic mulch ring that is 2 to 4 inches deep and 6 feet in diameter around the tree. Keep the mulch off the trunk. This will help hold moisture in the soil and prevent trunk damage from lawn care machinery.

Sunscald or southwest injury occurs in late winter and early spring on the south west side of thin bark maple trees. Wrap the bark of your young maple tree with commercial tree wrap. Be sure to remove the wrap in spring. If left in place, it attracts insects and diseases.

The following site will explain how to water your young transplanted tree.

Keep watering the tree during dry spells for the first two years. Try not to over water the tree.

Since switching from a public garden to a commercial landscaping industry, I’ve had a chance to pay more attention to what plants are being used by landscapers in my area. Most of these landscape designs are for normal people who want a low care, great looking landscape.

Just because a plant looks great may make it one of landscapers favorite trees. We however can be a little more picky.

Do your landscaping goals include helping wildlife? (and why shouldn’t it?)

If so, some of these popular plants are:

  • Invasive no no’s
  • Neither helpful or harmful
  • Winners

Since it is still prime time for tree planting, we will start there. Over the next few posts we will also cover shrubs and the area I am learning the most new info about, the perennials.

Since I have my own strong opinions on these, I’ll get add more of my own rambling commentary about landscapers favorite trees. They are sorted by Latin name.

Landscapers favorite trees #1 Autumn Blaze Maple

(Acer × freemanii ‘Jeffersred’ AUTUMN BLAZE)

While I sorted this list by Latin name, this tree would have been at the top if I sorted it by most used also. This tree is planted by just about everybody and for good reasons, it is a great tree by many criteria.

This hybrid of the native silver maple (Acer saccharinum) and the red maple (Acer rubrum) is a very fast growing specimen. This fast growth has made this tree an absolute favorite of nurseries and impatient customers. Nurseries get to sell you a bigger tree years quicker and customers get the shade they want sooner.

This was the size of an Autumn Blaze maple at planting.The same Autumn Blaze maple 9 years later.

I remember seeing a display at a Minnesota arboretum years ago that showed how over a five year period Autumn blaze maples with a trunk diameter of 1 inch were larger then 3″ diameter sized ones. They were so fast growing that the couple of years of slower growth due to transplant shock on the larger trees allowed the smaller ones to catch up.

It also does not hurt that this tree has a great red fall color.

Autumn Blaze maple fall color in a good year. Photo by Let Ideas Compete

Now the bad news.

This tree, along with one of it’s parents which we will cover in a bit, is way over planted. There is probably not a subdivision in my state where you can’t find this tree. When trees are very common, they are more susceptible to spreading diseases and pests among themselves, think Dutch Elm Disease.

Besides being over planted, there are other reasons to be concerned about this and in fact all of our native maples.

I thoroughly expect an exotic insect or disease to ravage our native maples soon. It may be the Asian long horned beetle or it might be something else. But I firmly believe we will see it soon.

I expect this one to be one of the major casualties.

Wildlife value: As a hybrid of two native trees, you can expect this tree to provide some of the same wildlife benefits of it’s parents. All Autumn Blaze maples are genetic clones of each other. This means they add very little to the genetic diversity of our landscapes.

Verdict: BAD. Not recommended as a long term tree. If you need a quick growing tree to provide shade then this tree might work for you. I would also recommend you consider planting a slower growing, hopefully longer lived non maple tree, not far from it. If you have already, I would keep it and enjoy it today.

Similar tree…….

(Acer rubrum ‘Franksred’ RED SUNSET)

This falls in the same category as the Autumn Blaze maple, except it is not a hybrid.

It is over planted because of it’s great fall color (even better then the Autumn Blaze). It is slower growing and tends to have more issues with alkaline soil causing chlorosis (yellowing of leaf).

Please don’t plant Swamp maples, i.e. red maples, as street trees in dry alkaline soil. They may look good for a while, but probably not long. Photo by MPRB Forestry

Red maples are often called Swamp maples for a reason. If that describes where you are going to be planting this tree, then this may be a good choice for you. If, however you are like most people and are planting in in front yards that are usually more doughty then wet, this is probably not the best tree for you.

Wildlife value: Good for river bed areas it is native to, although it is a genetic clone, so it provides little genetic diversity.

Verdict: BAD. Recommended only for acidic wet soil conditions with the realization that it may end up being subject to invasive pest soon.

#3 Laceleaf Japanese Maples

(Acer palmatum var. dissectum)

Whether we consider this a tree or a shrub, it would make our lists. As a specimen often in a bed of evergreen ground cover, few top the lace leaf Japanese Maples.

These are usually seen as purple leaf forms in my area. There are green leaf forms, but they tend to only be hardy to zone 6. In my colder area near Chicago (zone 5), the purple forms tend to do better. Although they do appreciate protection from the cold winter winds and a bit of shade in afternoon in the summer months.

My favorite is the Crimson Queen Japanese maple, mainly because it is one of the faster growing ones. There are many that do well in zone 5 and look great in all seasons.

Photo by dalechumbley

Wildlife value: Zilch, zippo, nada! OK, maybe a bird might nest in one or a rabbit or deer may chew on one. Other then that, these plants are really just for the people in the garden.

The good news, is in most areas they are not considered invasive. In New Jersey and the surrounding areas, they are considered invasive. They certainly are NOT in my area.

Verdict: GOOD! A great specimen plant for the landscape although it does not help wildlife.

#4 Autumn Brilliance Service Berry

(Amelanchier × grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’)

I’ve written about this tree before. It’s a winner for sure. It only grows to about 25 feet and is usually multiple stemmed.

Great winter bark, beautiful white spring blooms, attractive and delicious fruit in the summer, and excellent orange fall color.

Ripe fruit
photo credit: UFORA via photopin ccFall Color

Wildlife value: Good. Yes it is a cultivar (genetic clone) and a hybrid of two native trees, like the Autumn Blaze maple. It however provides abundant edible fruit that birds adore during the early summer. It is also a hybrid that occurs in nature, so some of our native bugs don’t mind taking a nibble here and there (don’t worry you probably won’t even notice).

Verdict: GOOD! One of the best trees that landscapers use frequently. Don’t forget to look at other service berry too.

#5 River birch

(Betula nigra)

This is another North American native of wet areas like the Red Maple. It has two very commonly used cultivars. Heritage (Betula nigra ‘Cully’) and Dura-Heat (Betula nigra ‘BNMTF’).

Photo by Tie Guy II

They both have excellent creamy rich exfoliating bark that looks better then the straight species. The main difference between the two is the size. Heritage tends to grow 40-70′ tall and Dura-Heat grows 30-40′. Heat resistance is another difference as the Dura-Heat does much better in warmer areas (say south of the Mason-Dixon line) then the Heritage.

No matter which one, you choose, landscapers tend to love to use them. And hey, why not? Bark that looks great in the winter and a nice light dappled shade in the summer coupled with fast growth makes them staple of the landscapers trade.

I started off this whole blogging thing with a post about another great river birch, the much less frequently used Fox Valley® River birch (Betula nigra ‘Little King’). This dwarf is more of a shrub than a tree for it’s first decade or so of life in the yard. After that it can be pruned into a nice dwarf sized tree.

A small grove of Little King River birch backs benches and provides shade in the summer and interest in the winter.

Wildlife value: River birches have high wildlife value. They are a host plant for many moths as well as the Mourning Cloak and Dreamy Duskywing butterflies. Seeds are eaten by birds. Birds and squirrels eat the male catkins in early spring.

The Mourning Cloak butterfly caterpillar feeds on River birch (don’t worry you won’t even notice). Photo by cotinis

Verdict: GOOD! As long as the soil is not too dry or alkaline, River birch is a fine tree for many landscapes. I especially like the smaller medium sized Dura-Heat as a shade tree as it fit’s into smaller sites better then the species or Heritage, which are both good where a larger tree is wanted. Note is does have a tendency to shed twigs and small branches so they are a little bit messy sometimes.

#6 Flowering Crabapples

(Malus sp.)

Flowering crab apples are one of the staple flowering trees used by landscapers all over the US but especially in the Midwest. (We will talk about another one is a minute). There is good reason for this. Crabapples are among the showiest spring flowering trees for full sun conditions.

Photo by ali eminov

Not only do they have great blooms, many have persistent colorful winter fruit. This not only adds to the winter landscape scene but also attracts birds in late winter when the fruit is one of the few foods available to them.

Photo by Muffet

Some also have good fall color.

Now the bad news. Apple trees are susceptible to a number of diseases and this includes crab apples. How susceptible depends on the weather that year and which cultivar it is. The worst of them turn ugly with leaf diseases and drop messy, slippery fruit right onto your new patio. If you have had one of these older non disease resistant cultivars, you may refuse to consider planting another crab apple ever again.

However, plant breeders have created crab apples that grow in all sizes and shapes, resist diseases and have fruit of different size and color. Some are even fruitless.

For instance, a great crab apple I see for sale at the my Home Depot every spring is Sugar Tyme®. It has excellent disease resistance, fragrant white flowers in spring and persistent red fruits to provide a nice fall and winter display.

For more info on Crabapples, see this great info sheet from the wholesale nursery JF Schmidt.

Wildlife Value: Virtually all ornamental crab apples are NOT native to the US and the natives are not that ornamental. That being said, some of these non natives are still excellent trees for wildlife. Many types of birds, butterflies, and other insects flock to the pollen of their flowers.

If you want to attract birds choose a cultivar that has small fruit. Fruit that is less than three-fourths of an inch in diameter is ideal. Some good ones include: ‘Sargent’, ‘Sargent Tina’, ‘Snowdrift’ and ‘Adirondack’. Also choose fruit that is persistent, which means it does not fall to the ground and stays on the tree for a winter meal for birds such as cedar waxwings,

Birds won’t eat the fruit of a some crab apples. They don’t like the fruit of ‘Adams,’ ‘Donald Wyman,’ and Red Jewel.

Verdict: GOOD! Crabapples with excellent disease resistance are among the best flowering trees for the landscape. There are so many types, that there is one for almost every circumstance. Except for shade, these are Full Sun trees!.

#7 Cleveland Select Pears

(Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’)

The Callery Pear usually seen is still the Bradford Pear. That tree tends to break apart during storms as it ages. Landscapers have grown a bit smarter and are now planting trees with better branch structure such as the Cleveland Select pear. These still have the formal upright structure of the Bradford but resist storm damage better as they age.

Even I have to admit the Bradford Pear blooms LOOK nice. Photo by StevenM_61

Their formal shape and their spring blooms (which stink bad!) are why most people plant these. I personally like the fact they hold their leaves late into Fall before turning nice shades of red, yellow and orange.

Photo by heatherhoesly

Now the bad news.

In the past, the potential for self-fruiting from these Pears had been small because cultivars of Pyrus calleryanna were unable to self pollinate. However, it has become apparent that many cultivars have unexpectedly begun to interbreed fairly readily.

This hybrid fruit is then eaten by birds and dispersed into nearby fields or natural open areas. These seedlings are now aggressively invading fields and other open areas, much like other introduced exotic plants, like the Buckthorn and Amur honeysuckle. Many of these seedlings also have the thorns that had been bred out of their parent cultivars and make them a pain to remove.

Wildlife Value: Very negative due to being so invasive.

Verdict: UGLY. Do not plant. I would recommend removal of existing trees if these are an invasive problem in your area. In Chicago these are considered trees that should be phased out according to the Chicago Botanic garden’s Invasive Plants in the Chicago Region page.

I personally, would remove because I am sure there is a better tree that could be using that space! If you really want white spring blooms, look at the crab apple or service berry mentioned above.

Next time, I will write about landscapers favorite shrubs. See you then.

Autumn Blaze Maples: What are the Benefits?

Think back to your favorite street. Maybe it was lined with large, mature shade trees, giving yards a beautiful and charming feel. Sunlight may have intertwined with their lush green canopies and large weaving branches. Red reds juxtaposed against the landscape…the dazzling hues of Autumn Blaze Maples.

Think back to your favorite street. Maybe it was lined with large, mature shade trees, giving yards a beautiful and charming feel. Sunlight may have intertwined with their lush green canopies and large weaving branches. Red reds juxtaposed against the landscape…the dazzling hues of Autumn Blaze Maples.

Reasons to Plant Autumn Blaze Maples

Autumn Blaze Maples are a hybrid cross between the Silver Maple and Red Maple. Therefore, their best qualities are combined to create a tough, fast growing maple that’s full of benefits.

And whether your soil is acidic, basic or anything in between, your Autumn Blaze Maples will adapt and thrive. They aren’t picky! In fact, Autumn Blaze Maples are so easygoing that they can tolerate both dry and wet soils. With a high level of drought tolerance and the ability to handle wet conditions, Autumn Blaze Maples can survive in almost any environment.

Plus, Autumn Blaze Maples grow up to 3 feet per year. This is an extremely fast growth rate for a maple tree, meaning you get all of the benefits of a mature tree faster.


Since Autumn Blaze Maples are extremely low-maintenance, they don’t need much TLC. However, we do have a few tips to help them flourish.

Plant your Autumn Blaze Maple in an area that receives full to partial sunlight. Themore sunlight that these trees receive, the brighter fall colors they will have.

Autumn Blaze Maples will adapt to your natural soil, even if it is sandy or heavy in clay, as long as it drains well. However, these maples prefer soil that’s slightly acidic. Add organic matter like peat moss to your soil in order to increase its acidity.

Rainwater usually provides enough moisture for Autumn Blaze Maples, however, they will need supplemental water during times of drought.

Even though Autumn Blaze Maples generally don’t need any fertilizer, you can give your trees a boost in the early spring and fall by fertilizing them with an all-natural, organic fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen, like formula 16-4-8, or 12-4-8. Don’t fertilize your trees until they have experienced a year of growth.

Acer x freemanii – Autumn Blaze / Jeffersred


Acer x freemanii – Autumn Blaze / Jeffersred

One of three varieties of Lipstick Maple.

HEIGHT: 13.0m

WIDTH: 10.0m

*height & width at maturity

FORM: Oval

FOLIAGE: The traditional vibrant green maple shaped leaves turn lipstick red in the autumn. It is one of the first trees to colour and lose it’s leaves in Autumn.


BARK: The bark is smooth and dark greyish brown

DESCRIPTION: Vibrant red in Autumn, rich green in Summer this hybrid maple has a very uniform upright shape forming an oval canopy of lovely dense foliage. The stunning Autumn display makes this specimen a spectacular choice for a feature tree in any medium to large size garden.

LANDSCAPE USES: A great shade tree perfect to make a statement in large parks or gardens and a wonderful option for avenue planting.

TOLERANCES: A hardy speciman tolerant of heat, wet sites, air pollution , dry and cool climates. Performs best in full sun. Tolerates a broad range of soil and climatic conditions including relatively wet sites.

TREE CARE: Plant in a well drained and well worked soil. Take care to plant the bud union above the soil level. Water in well and keep soil moist until tree is established. Fertilize when planting and again after new growth appears. Prune tree when planting to encourage new growth.

Autumn Blaze Maple
Acer x Freemanii ‘Jeffersred’
If you have the room to plant a large urban tree, the Autumn Blaze Maple is definitely one to consider. I spotted these trees recently in the field, and had to stop to take a photo, they were so impressive. This cross of the rubrum (red) and saccharinum (silver) maples seems to combine the best qualities of those two species. This tree possesses the good qualities of brilliant orange-red fall color, dense and healthy branching, and vigor that is almost too much for its own good. It has been so impressive that the Autumn Blaze Maple was selected Urban Tree of the Year in 2003, based on responses to an annual survey in the Arborist Magazine, City Trees.
This is a patented tree, selected by the late Glenn Jeffers of Jeffers Nursery in North Central Ohio. It also has excellent disease and insect resistance, and a wide range of adaptability. The tree can apparently grow in the frigid hardiness zone of 3 in the North, to the warm humid South of zone 8. It tolerates both wet and dry conditions, and grows to 60′ tall by 40′ wide. The leaves are deeply lobed, resembling the Silver Maple leaves that are rich and green in color until their incredible show in the fall. Limbs are ascending, and the tree grows to a tall oval form.
In the nursery, it outgrows everything we plant. In fact, under perfect soils and moisture, it almost gets leggy; therefore, we actually have to back off on supplemental watering after establishment. However, those conditions are not common on most urban sites. The only caution I have is that sometimes the lateral limbs will try to out-compete the leader, so careful pruning of a portion of the lateral limbs is sometimes beneficial to maintain a strong leader. If you have any experiences with Autumn Blaze Maple that you would like to share, let me know!
Jim Barborinas
ISA Certified Arborist #0135
ASCA Registered Consulting Arborist #356
Certified Tree Risk Assessor #PNW-0327

13 year old Autumn Blaze Maple problem

first some background info….
25 years ago it was thought that ‘Autumn Blaze’, a hybrid of silver maple and red maple, would be a good replacement tree for silver maple, which often develops iron chlorosis in our alkaline, high-lime soils. It is now proving to be just as prone to iron chlorosis as silver or red maple is locally.
Iron chlorosis (the “plant equivalent” of anemia) is the result when a plant cannot take up sufficient iron from the soil. In local alkaline (high pH), high-lime soils there may be plenty of iron but it in a form not usable by some plants. Plants must have iron to manufacture chlorophyll, the green, photosynthetically active pigment in leaves. Your maples are not taking up enough iron to make chlorophyll, so leaves yellow and the tree declines (like your backyard maple) because it isn’t making enough photosynthetic foods for itself.
Note that your front yard tree is more yellow on the side where roots are nearer concrete (alkaline) and where soils are compacted, which exacerbates iron chlorosis.
1) Is there ANYTHING we can do to help this beautiful tree survive/get better?
Yes – iron injections into the trunk (tree service), drill holes into trunk and “implant” iron capsules or iron citrate (tree service), use of iron sucrate or chelated iron products in the soil, spraying leaves with iron compounds (messy, stains sidewalks, more difficult as trees grow). You can get much more detail and benefits/downsides of each of these and other treatment options at
Should we use a certain weed n feed on the lawn around it?
No… herbicides could injure your tree. Fertilizer alone would stimulate new growth which won’t be able to make enough chlorophyll
2) Is it possible to hire someone there to come look at it and give us suggestions?
Yes, Google American Society of Consulting Arborists or contact CSU Extension in Jeffco at 303.271-6620. Both will charge a fee for a site visit.
3) What would YOU do if this tree were the glory of YOUR front yard?
I wouldn’t plant one, but if I inherited it in the landscape of a new home (the actual case for me) I would get a soil test done. Soil pH above 7.6 and high-lime would suggest the iron chlorosis is going to be a long-term, ongoing problem, so I’d look at replacing the Autumn Blaze with a tree less prone to iron chlorosis. In the interim I’d give the tree iron chelates in the soil and/or iron injections in the trunk.

Seedless Maple Trees

Autumn Blaze Maple is a hybrid cross between a red maple and silver maple. It is drought and moisture tolerant. Leaves open with a reddish tint in spring. Branching habit is well balanced with an oval to rounded crown and a strong central leader. Branches are ascending at a 45 degree angle. Its’ uniform shape requires little or no pruning. Weaker wood characteristics of the silver maple have been inherited, but not as susceptible to storm damage with superior crotch angles. Hardy reliable grower, in ideal conditions growing easily over 3 feet per year. Tolerates drought. More drought and pH tolerant than the red maple. Gorgeous fall color of brilliant red orange lasts longer than other maples and of the freemanii varieties has the most intense red to red-orange fall color. New branch growth may retain some red coloring through winter. Very easy to grow and very adaptable to most conditions. Fertilize once a year in early spring with a slow release fertilizer.

There are several other varieties of the Acer freemanii, not all are seedless:

‘Armstrong’ has a strong upright growing habit, nearly columnar when young. Crown is open and round, widened to a narrow oval at maturity. Fall color is orange-yellow to red. Good shade or street tree or for narrow places. Will hold up in extreme environmental conditions. Red seeds attract birds. Hardy to zone 3, grows 45-70’ tall and 15-25’ wide.

‘Autumn Fantasy’ has larg leaves with deep ruby red fall color. Reaches 45-50’ tall and 35-40’ wide with a broad rounded crown producing dense shade. Will thrive in average soil and prefers moist conditions but will tolerate drought very well. Very adaptable. Hardy in zones 3-9. Rarely produces seeds.

‘Celzam’ Celebration is more compact with red and golden yellow fall color. It is very disease resistant, tolerant of urban pollution and strong limbs and crotches withstand snow and ice. Requires no pruning to maintain a nice rounded pyramid shape. Reaches 45’ high and 20-25’ wide. Blooms are red. A male variety with no seeds.

‘Indian Summer’ is most similar to a Red Maple. Crown is oval to rounded. Fall foliage is a bright rosy red. Known in Canada as ‘Morgan’.

‘Marmo’ is quite large reaching up to 80’ and 35-40’ wide. It has an upright oval to columnar crown with red-maroon fall color contrasted with green and yellow patches. Tolerant of urban conditions and a wide range of soil conditions including heavy clay. Hardy to zone 4. Seedless.

‘Scarlet Sentinel’ has an upright habit with a columnar to oval crown. Fall color is yellow-orange to red. Grows quickly to 50’ tall and 25’ wide. Grows well in full sun to part shade and is hardy in zones 3-8. Flowers are sparse with no seeds.

Acer x freemani ‘Sienna Glen’ Sienna Glen Maple

The Autumn Blaze maple tree is a hybrid species comprised of half red maple and half silver maple. The combination has been popular for 20 years in commercial and residential plantings thanks to the combination of gorgeous fall color and rapid growth – exactly what homeowners are seeking. In addition, the Autumn Blaze is very hardy and can withstand a wide range of climatic conditions.

The big drawback of the Autumn Blaze maple is its structural weakness. The tree tends to crack easily at branch unions, which leads to broken branches and property damage after even mild storms. To avoid problems with Autumn Blaze maple trees, property owners must invest in regular tree care.

Maintaining autumn blaze maples requires regular pruning every 3 to 5 years. Regular pruning helps keep the structure of the tree sound and prevent some of the issues discussed/illustrated below. I planted an Autumn Blaze at my parent’s house 15 years ago and I prune it every year! My dad is always amazed at how much wood I remove from the tree on a yearly basis.

The two major maintenance issues for this tree deal with the roots and the canopy. For a discussion on roots and root zones check out some of our other blogs related to that topic. We will discuss canopy management below.

Canopy Maintenance Prevents Broken Branches

If an Autumn Blaze maple tree has been in your landscape for more than five to tens years without any structural or upper canopy pruning, please contact a certified arborist ASAP because these trees require regular pruning. I’m not exaggerating here, they really do need regular care in order to stay in your landscape long-term. Unmaintained trees develop weak branch attachments (cracks) prone to failure, which ultimately can mean losing the entire tree.

Very few landscape plants have achieved the popularity and success demonstrated by Autumn Blaze Maple over the last twenty years. Autumn Blaze Maple has attracted millions of buyers with its rapid growth, drought tolerance once established, versatility on many soil types, pleasing shape and stunning red/orange fall color.

For property owners who want shade sooner rather than later, Autumn Blaze Maple can be an excellent choice. Even if you go low budget and plant an Autumn Blaze Maple that is only 8 feet tall and one inch trunk diameter from a #7 or #10 nursery pot, most of the time the tree will reach a size of 30 to 35 feet tall and 10 inch diameter in an average of only ten years. If you start with a 3”-4” diameter Autumn Blaze Maple that is about twenty feet tall at planting time, you can have a tree 45 feet tall in ten years. This is pretty significant shade in a relatively short time.

Autumn Blaze Maple is a tree that prospers when we administer tough love for trees. Simply put, the very best care of Autumn Blaze Maple is to prune it early, often and aggressively the first ten years after planting. Aggressive pruning every other year to remove weakly attached branches that come out of the trunk at very steep upward angles will leave you with a gorgeous and strong shade tree that can withstand violent thunderstorms and winter ice storms. After being pruned aggressively 4 or 5 times early in life you will have an Autumn Blaze Maple with lower angled branches that are very strongly attached to the trunk and a lovely tree that puts on an annual fall color show of blazing red that is hard to beat.

Mature size is about 60 feet tall x 45 feet wide, so allow plenty of space for growth when you pick the planting location for your Autumn Blaze Maple.

PLANT PROFILE:Autumn Blaze® Maple

Acer x freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’

Description & Overview

A rapid grower with an upright oval habit, the Autumn Blaze® Maple has rich dark green foliage which turns a brilliant orange-red in fall. It also holds its color longer than other selections!

Core Characteristics

Wisconsin Native: No – Variety of North American Native USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3 Mature Height: 40-50 feet Mature Spread: 40 feet Growth Rate: Moderate Growth Form: Upright, dense oval canopy Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade Site Requirements: Tolerant of a wide variety of growing conditions Flower: Insignificant Bloom Period: April Foliage: Dark Green Fall Color: Red-Orange Urban Approved: Yes Fruit Notes: Samara, fewer

Suggested Uses:

The Autumn Blaze® Maple works well as a shade tree, focal point for fall color, or as a street tree

Wildlife Value:

Although its fruit production is minimal compared to other trees, the Autumn Blaze Maple can provide good cover for birds and other wildlife in the canopy.

Maintenance Tips:

The rapid growth rate of the Autumn Blaze® Maple means that small trees can develop poor structure if not correctly maintained. Our trees are professionally field pruned for strong branches and a dominant central leader, reducing the need to prune them in the landscape. Freeman Maples (Acer x freemanii cultivars) and Elms (Ulmus spp.) require structural pruning every 5-7 years by a professional arborist to maintain good form.

We invite you to check out the Arborist For Hire lookup at the Wisconsin Arborist Association website to find an ISA Certified Arborist near you.


Like norway, silver, and red maples, Autumn Blaze® Maple can develop Tar Spot (Rhystima spp.), a fungal pathogen. This is an ornamental disease and will not kill the tree.

The thin bark of younger trees is easily damaged by lawn equipment or buck rub. Take care when mowing around the tree and apply a trunk guard over fall and winter to protect the trunk from mechanical damage.

Autumn Blaze® Maple, like other Freeman Maples, may produce suckers on the trunk or at old pruning wounds. Suckers can be prevented by maintaining tree vigor, and should be removed during the dormant season when they are observed.

Young trees can be susceptible to leafhopper and scale damage. If you observe general decline of the tree or branch flagging (individual branch death), consult an arborist to assess the plant’s needs and determine what plant health care options are best for you.

Leaf Lore:

Freeman Maples are noted for their fast growth, uniform habit, and reliable fall color. However, these trees have been heavily planted in the last 30 years since the introduction of the original Autumn Blaze® Maple (US Plant Patent 4864) in 1980. While the trees have beautiful fall color, please consider diversity when selecting them for planting. If you or your neighbors already have a Freeman Maple cultivar in the landscape, it is recommended to pick a different, non-maple (Acer) species for your landscape. Remember, Emerald Ash Borer and Dutch Elm Disease were problematic because we relied on only one tree for our boulevards. Let’s not make the same mistake with Freeman Maples.

The Autumn Blaze® Maple is a selection of Freeman Maple (Acer x freemanii), which is a naturally occurring hybrid between our native Silver Maple and Red Maple. Freeman Maples retain the rapid growth of their Silver Maple parent and combine it with the improved structure and fall color of Red Maple. Their fibrous root systems are adaptable to many soil and moisture conditions, making them an ideal choice for landscape plantings in tougher sites. Autumn Blaze® lives up to its name with a brilliant, consistent orange-red fall color.

Companion Plants:

The Autumn Blaze® Maple pairs well with partial-shade perennials planted at its base. Consider using Rozanne Geranium, Hostas, or Coralbells to add color beneath the tree.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *