Acer saccharum- Sugar Maples and Related Species

Acer saccharum, the sugar maple, is a deciduous tree noted for its outstanding fall color. Find Acer saccharum facts and information, as well as info on growing related species of the sugar maple.

Acer saccharum Facts and Information

Acer saccharum grows in Zones 4-8 and reaches heights of 60-75” by 30-50’ wide. Sugar maples have an upright oval to rounded form, but grow rather slowly. The maple tree is a North American native and is one of the best shade trees for larger yards. It prefers well-drained, moist, fertile soil. It does not perform well in tight situations and is not a good choice for street plantings or small yards.

"Acer saccharum"

Sugar Maples in brilliant fall colors

Caring for Acer saccharum, Sugar Maple

You can transplant balled-and-burlapped plants in spring or fall. Amend the soil with peat moss, compost, or other organic matter before planting. Water well after planting. Mulch with 2-4” of shredded bark or wood chips to retain soil moisture and provide a barrier against lawn mowers and string trimmers, which can seriously damage the thin bark.

Water as needed to keep the soil moist throughout the growing season, especially during the heat of summer. Leaf scorch can be a problem during dry periods, especially on young trees. Sugar maple likes fertile soil. Young trees will benefit from an annual spring application of plant food such as MIracle-Gro.

Mature trees that are under stress from drought, insects, or diseases will benefit from root feeding. Prune to improve the shape in spring or summer to avoid bleeding sap, which occurs in late winter.

"Sugar Maple"

Leaves of Acer Saccharum

Propagation of Sugar Maples- Seeds require stratification for 60-90 days.

Pests and Diseases of Acer saccharum

Verticillium wilt, a soilborn disease, and pear thrips can be problems. Leaf scorch may occur on dry, windy sites. Wrap young trees in winter to protect the thin bark from sunscald.* Wrapping can be done with crepe tree wrap in winter.

Related species of Acer saccharum

  • Trident maple (Acer buergerianum), growing 20-30’ tall, is good in smaller spaces.
  • Paperbark maple (Acer griseum) grows to 25’ and has very attractive peeling reddish-brown bark.
  • Big-leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) is reliably hardy to Zone 6, and has a yellow fall color.
  • Red maple (Acer rubrum) is hardier (Zone 3) and has vivid fall color and showier red flowers in spring.
  • Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) is hardier (Zone 3) and grows taller and faster, but the weak wood can be messy. Three-flowered maple (Acer triflorum) is an attractive small tree, growing 20-30’ with an equal spread.



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