Best Maple For Fall Color?

greenthumbzdudeNovember 4, 2013

I never considered maples before since they are often overplanted......however this year I am starting to think otherwise. The colors that I am seeing on maples this year are spectacular and I think I might give one a try. So what is the best looking maple for fall color? I want one that will stop any passerby in his/her tracks.Pics would be appreciated. BTW the site I plan on planting it is in full sun and has a neutral pH.

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Fall color can be "hit or miss" and is such a small window of time that I think most people look for other factors such as appropriate siting when choosing a maple. Think of the fall color as a bonus. That said, I'd suggest October Glory. Personal favorite.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 1:34PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

With NO other consideration, Sugar Maple Acer saccharum. However, this is not a maple for any location, plus there is size issue, cost issue, desired fall color, etc. Sugar Maple tends to be so shade of orange to orange-red, to almost red, but some are yellow to yellow-orange. If you ideal of great fall color is red, then Sugar Maple is not the way to go. If you want orange but a smaller 25' tree, then a couple of Sugar Maples COULD work, but better options might be Chalk Maple (which is basically a small Sugar Maple that is MUCH tougher), or Triflorum Maple. Etc. Etc. You need to better define your site conditions (compaction and drainage especially), size expectations, and what you define as "spectacular".

With that said, assuming reasonable soil, the three I mentioned are favorites of mine. We have all three, and all can be "EXCEPTIONAL". Then of course if you have room for a large Sugar Maple, perhaps a Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum), Triflorum Maple (Acer triflorum), and Chalk Maple (Acer luecoderme) planted in place of one large tree might be a better option and more interesting. BTW, all three of the later species have grown much faster for me than indicated by the literature. All are in unrelenting full exposure southern sun. They need not be "understory" trees as many believe.


This post was edited by arktrees on Mon, Nov 4, 13 at 13:59

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 1:35PM
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Just to be clea, the Sugar maple is Acer Saccharum, as opposed to the dreaded Silver maple, which is Acer saccharinum. It's easy to confuse the two.

They are all spectacular in Kansas right now, which made it all the more tragic to see utility crews hacking them into champagne-saucer stemware under power lines today. They should just take them down if they're going to butcher them that severely.

Even our Trident maple has turned a gorgeous orangey-gold color this year. It has never been this nice in fall before.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 1:47PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Of the common ones the most intense here are the more strongly colored individuals and selections of Acer rubrum. But your climate and soil might not be right for the best effects from that species.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 2:45PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Maples are the kings of fall color, nothing wrong with having one, or many.

Just plant other stuff too (if you have room). Also, don't forget about some of the less common maples (Ark mentioned a few):

Chalk Maple (Acer leucoderme)
Trident Maple (Acer buergerianum)
Amur Maple (Acer ginnala)
Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)
Korean Maple (Acer pseudoseiboldanum)
Shantung Maple (Acer truncatum)

Just a few, these are all smaller trees that generally have good fall color.

Most Japanese maple varieties can fit the bill, too.

In PA your soils should be acceptable pH-wise, but if you have heavy PA clay, be sure to avoid areas where water stands or pools (except A. rubrum, which can somewhat tolerate such conditions).

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 3:20PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

greenthumbz, I think the thing to do is wander your local nurseries and botanical gardens and pick what you like most.

FWIW, with the clones in an otherwise informal setting I think they are best limited to one of each. If you have a row of identical Autumn Blazes down the street or on a parking lot or whatever it just seems odd to me.

I took the below picture November 2 2010 at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Its a Franksred / Red Sunset per their tag. I took that pic with my old cell even lol.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 5:04PM
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Sugar is by far my favorite. Runner up award goes to red maple.

Not that familiar with asian maples, but Amur maple colors nicely around here. It is a small tree with some structural issues, but good for tight spots.

Never cared much for autumn blaze (red x silver) - like it is trying too hard. But effect is dramatic and tends to have a very consistent color.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 8:51PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Be a regular at your favorite nursery this time of year and decide for yourself.
There are other factors that make a tree a standout. Location is one factor as Allan456 said. Good pruning is another. Here's one of my seed grown Japanese maples.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 4:40AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Why must you PNW guys post pics of your gardens, then make the rest of us feel inadequate?

Seriously, gorgeous Japanese maple.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 7:29AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

This is a very pic-heavy thread, but I and a few others have posted some maple pics.

Generally speaking, Sugar Maples show a more 'warm' color in fall, more 'natural' looking oranges with some yellows & reds, but the reds are more of an orange-red vs. a straight red.

Red Maples can also have warm colors, but others can be an almost fluorescent red color - see some of the pics at the bottom of the linked page for examples.

As far as other maple species, they can go either way.

Here is a link that might be useful: GW thread on fall color (most pics near the bottom)

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 11:00AM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

according to ken, the only good maple is a dead maple ;)

"Somewhat tolerate"? Hell, A. rubrum loves heavy clay that's waterlogged half the time. My parents have a whole forest of them right behind their house on soil just like that, in neighboring New Jersey.

Sugar Maple (A. saccharum) if you like the variety, a good named Red Maple (A. rubrum) if you like right red. Norway Maple (A. platanoides) has good yellow depending on the specimen, but its usually late and there are other issues with that tree so I don't strongly recommend it. But I always fancied the Norways which decided to throw in a little orange, red and purple for good measure.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 3:48AM
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If bright red is your thing then as someone has said red maple October Glory would be my choice. Around our house this cultivar is consistently the last to color. We also have Red Sunset a little more toward orange/red and we have an Autumn Flame (red) colors earliest of the three. We have heavy clay here, NW Ind., and all these trees are doing well.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2013 at 8:22PM
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