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By: Liz Baessler
The Amur maple is a large shrub or small tree prized for its compact size, rapid growth, and showy bright red color in the fall. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow an Amur maple tree in the landscape of your home.
Amur Maple Facts
Amur maple trees (Acer ginnala) are native to northern Asia. They are considered to be both large shrubs and small trees, usually topping out at 15 to 20 feet (4.5-6 m.) in height.
They have a natural shape of many stems grown in a clumping manner (resulting in a much more shrub-like appearance), but they can be pruned at a young age to have a single or multi trunk tree appearance. To achieve this, prune away all but a single strong leader (or for multi trunk, a few select branching stems) when the tree is very young.
Amur maple trees have dark green summer foliage that turns bright shades of orange, red, and burgundy in the autumn. The trees also produce samaras (in the classic pinwheel maple seed pod shape) that turn bright red in the fall.
How to Grow an Amur Maple
Amur maple care is very easy. These maple trees are hardy from USDA zones 3a to 8b, covering most of the continental U.S. They can grow well in full sun to partial shade, a wide range of soils, and moderate drought. They can even handle aggressive pruning.
Unfortunately, Amur maples are considered invasive in many places, especially the northern U.S. The trees produce a huge number of seeds, which can be spread over long distances by the wind. These escaped offspring are known to push out native understory species in forests. Before planting Amur maple trees, check with your local extension office to see if they are invasive in your area.
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How to Prune Amur Maple
Plant your amur maple in front of dense, dark evergreens to provide a contrasting background for its fall show of color. Avoid planting this tree near walkways and patios because the winged red seeds may build up in summer and fall. Locate amur maples at the edge of a small pond or water feature to enjoy the fiery red reflection in fall. Use mounding evergreen ground covers and shrubs, like junipers or Japanese boxwood, underneath this tree to accentuate the foliage display and hide leaf litter. Plant bright yellow fall blooming plants, like Maximillian’s sunflower or dwarf chamisa, near your amur maple for an eye-popping display.
Amur maple is a medium-sized tree that's native to Manchuria and Japan. Its large, deeply lobed leaves turn a brilliant, clear red in fall. In spring, it produces masses of small, yellow flowers that are highly fragrant. Amur maple has an elegant, compact form and often grows from multiple trunks. The natural shape of this lovely maple is quite attractive with only minimal pruning. However, you can train it as a standard with a single trunk or even prune it into a tall shrub, if desired. Follow these easy steps to keep your amur maple in shape.
- Amur maple is a medium-sized tree that's native to Manchuria and Japan.
- Amur maple has an elegant, compact form and often grows from multiple trunks.
Remove all dead or diseased wood with a pruning saw or loppers in mid-to-late summer. Cut away any crossing branches, unless they are especially aesthetically pleasing. If you want to enjoy amur maple’s natural form, this is all the pruning you’ll need to do to keep your tree healthy.
Train your multi-trunked maple into a standard by removing all but the largest, healthiest trunk at the base with sharp loppers. Choose young trees with trunks no larger than one to two inches in diameter. Secure the tree to a tall stake that is firmly planted in the ground. Watch for new sprouts at the base of the tree for the next several seasons and remove them while they are small.
- Remove all dead or diseased wood with a pruning saw or loppers in mid-to-late summer.
- Watch for new sprouts at the base of the tree for the next several seasons and remove them while they are small.
Prune the tree into a tall, multi-stemmed shrub by shearing off the top few inches of the branches on the top and sides. Do not remove any branches at the ground level. This is a gradual process, best undertaken when the tree is still young. If your amur maple is already large, prune only a few inches of woody growth each year, over several years, to avoid harming the tree. Leave ample room for growth because maples pruned this way tend to spread horizontally.
Maple Trees Facts
The ornamental maple tree provides stunning autumn color and there are many types to suit every garden
There are about 128 species of maple trees in the Acer plant genus. The two most common maples are the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and the red maple (Acer rubrum). Other popular varieties of maple trees for gardens are the Amur Maple (Acer ginnala), Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum), and the Hedge Maple tree (Acer campestre).
The most famous product from maple trees is the sweet maple syrup made from the tree’s sap. Although you can make syrup from any maple tree, it’s only the sugar maple tree (Acer saccharum) that produces quality syrup.
Maple trees are also prized for their quality timber. Maple wood is a type of hardwood that is used to make baseball bats, bowling pins, pool cue shafts, and hardwood flooring. The decorative wood grain makes maple tree wood popular for making beautiful furniture.
The striking maple leaf—especially from the sugar maple tree—is undoubtedly the tree’s most recognizable feature. A single stylized maple leaf with 11 points and deep indentations features prominently in the Canadian flag. The maple leaves are said to symbolize strength and endurance.
For Appearance's Sake
Nothing quite matches the splendor of an Amur maple in fall. The leaves glow in bright scarlet hues that frame the tree's bright pink winged seeds. To fully enjoy its beautiful fall colors, plant the tree outside a window, near an outdoor gathering space or take advantage of its clumping habit to create an attractive hedge around your front yard -- your neighbors are sure to enjoy the beautiful autumn colors as much as you. Or, use your Amur maple as a specimen tree, patio tree or as a container plant. The "Flame" Amur maple cultivar (Acer ginnala "Flame") is a particularly showy one that only reaches a height and width of between 15 and 20 feet. It grows in USDA zones 2 through 8.
How to Care for an Amur Maple Hedge
Thanks to a height of 20 to 30 feet and their ability to offer ample shade, Amur maple trees (Acer ginnala) function well as hedges in the home landscape. With clusters of tiny yet aromatic flowers and green foliage that turns red during the fall, Amur maples make a strong impact. Though these deciduous hedges boast a reputation for ease of maintenance and a low susceptibility to problems, they still require consistent daily care for continued health. Amur maple hedges should be planted in full sun to partial shade in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 to 8 for best growth.
Trim Amur maples into hedges that narrow toward the top so sun reaches all parts of the plant.
Prune once in mid- to late summer and once in spring with pruning shears trim branches back "to within 2 inches of the last pruning" to maintain shape, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. Remove weak or dead branches.
Maintain well-drained soil with a pH of 4.5 to 7.5. Amur maples tolerate a wide variety of soil types but will not thrive in poorly drained environments or alkaline conditions.
Water your hedge when the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch.
Inspect Amur maple hedges regularly for pests even though they typically resist infestation. Look for aphids, a common pest of maple plants. Search for tiny insects in hues such as red, green and black. Identify symptoms such as yellowing, distorted leaves, leaf drop and the presence of a black-hued moldy growth called sooty mold.
Control aphids by using a stream of water to push them from the tree. Release natural enemies that kill aphids for additional control. Purchase parasitic wasps, lady beetles or lacewings from a garden supply store.
Monitor Amur maples for verticillium wilt. Look for symptoms of this fungal disease such as wilting, dying branches, stained sapwood and sporadic discoloration of foliage. Cut out affected plant parts with pruning shears to decrease the intensity of the disease.