Sunday, December 9, 2012

Nothing like the Maple

English: Autumn Maples There are several speci...
Autumn Maples There are several species of maple from Asia and North America in one of the "clearings" in Thorp Perrow Arboretum specially created to show these trees in autumn. The combination of shelter from taller trees all around with a well-lit gap enables these trees to develop their full autumn colour without losing their leaves to the winds. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For autumn color there is nothing like the Maple (Aceraceae) tree.  With over 300 different species to choose from, one is sure to find one that will enhance their garden.  Maples grow anywhere from 2 feet to 35 feet tall, and although there colored leaves begin in spring they intensify as autumn comes around with all its colorful beauty. Their colors range from green, yellow, rich oranges, purples, reds, and brilliant gold.

Most maples can be grown in zones six to eight but many are cold hardy and do well in zone five.  Many have leaves that change their color throughout their growing season.  Planting them in a good drainage area in sun or  filtered shade and keeping them well watered, the maple will thrive and show its true colors.  To plant dig a hole three times its width and as deep as its root ball.  Work in plenty of organic matter, repeating this process with a well-balanced fertilizer each spring.  Pruning should only be done from late autumn to midwinter.

Many maples are not only prized for their colorful leaves but also for their interesting bark, such as the Paperback maple for its orange-brown ornamental peeling bark, the A. miyabei species for its corky bark or the Striped maple for its brilliant pink shoots when young that change to orange-red with white stripes when the mature.

A red maple tree between a bunch of pines
A red maple tree between a bunch of pines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For those who like to be creative, maples can be trained into bonsai trees.  There are many maple species that have arching, spreading branches, weeping branches or grow to a column naturally.

As with anything there are cons with the maple tree, they are prone to aphids, scale insects and mites.  Its is common from them to be plagued with verticillium wilt, fungal leaf spots, tar spots and root rot.  All that can be eliminated or kept in control with proper treatments.

Maples are for the most part hardy and the worse thing is that they are deciduous, loosing their colorful leaves for the winter months.  But being the show stopper they are deserve a spot in the garden, even if it’s a single tree or lower growing bush type species.

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