Quick facts and care essentials
• Climate zones vary
• Full sun or partial shade
• Regular to moderate watering
• Growth rate varies
The many maple species include small trees for patios as well as strong-growing shade trees. Maples of one type or another will grow in most zones, though none will really flourish in hot, dry areas. These trees prefer well-drained soil, but they must have regular moisture during the growing season. They are subject to anthracnose and verticillium wilt.
David’s maple (A. davidii). Zones 3-6, 15-17, 20, 21, 32-34. This 20- to 35-foot tree has distinctive shiny green bark with white stripes. Leaves are heart shaped, reaching 5 to 7 inches long. New growth is bronze tinted; autumn color is bright yellow, orange red, and purple.
Japanese maple (A. palmatum). Zones 2-10, 12, 14-24, 31-41. The airiest and most delicate of all maples, this is a slow-growing, normally many-stemmed tree to 20 feet tall and wide. Leaves are 2 to 4 inches long, deeply lobed, carried in horizontal tiers. Autumn color is scarlet, orange, or yellow. Named varieties offer a range of tree sizes and foliage colors and shapes. Where summers are hot and dry, provide regular moisture, some shade, and shelter from wind.
Red maple (A. rubrum). Zones 1-9, 14-17, 26, 28, 31-44. Fairly fast growth to 60 feet or taller, 40 feet or wider. Lobed, 5-inch-long, shiny green leaves turn brilliant scarlet in autumn in frosty climates. Tolerates almost any soil type. Many named selections are sold, varying in habit (there are several columnar forms) and fall color.