Red Maple Tree: Tips on Growing a Sapling

A red maple tree.

A red maple tree sapling is a red maple that is less than two years old. This phase of the tree’s life cycle is very delicate because the sapling can easily be damaged or killed if it is not given the care it needs. However, once your sapling matures into an established tree, it will be able to provide you with shade and be a visually stunning display for your landscaping.

Preparing a Sapling for Planting

If you purchase your red maple tree sapling from a mail-order company, it should arrive in a box as a bare root plant. This means that the roots will be dry and free of dirt. In order to prepare your sapling for planting you will need to remove it from the box, lay it flat on the ground, spread out its roots and branches, and sprinkle the entire plant with water. This will help to stimulate the sapling and help restore its strength. If you purchased your red maple tree sapling from a local grower or merchant, then your sapling will most likely come in a container with dirt. Until you are ready to plant it, keep it in the shade and keep its soil moist.

When to Plant Red Maple Saplings

The ideal time for planting red maples is in the early spring. An early planting will give your sapling plenty of time to establish a new root system before the temperatures become hot. If you miss an early spring planting, make sure that your sapling is in the ground for at least six weeks before you expect the first frost of fall to strike to provide your sapling enough time to establish its root system and to gain strength. If you plant a sapling in the summer months, you will want to plant it in the shade and provide it with enough water to keep its surrounding soil moist.

Where to Plant Red Maple Saplings

To help protect the saplings during their first couple of years you should plant them in a spot that has partial shade. This will help prevent excessive moisture loss because of direct exposure to the sun. Select a spot that has well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH level. If your soil is basic as opposed to acidic you can increase the pH by adding peat moss or pine needles to the soil. Finally, you need to select a spot where your tree will get enough water to keep its soil moist.

Food and Water

You will need to provide the sapling with about 1½ inches of water each week during its growing cycle and you will need to provide it with a basic 10-10-10 fertilizer twice a month during the spring and once a month during the summer. You can stop feeding the tree when it turns scarlet red because this is a sign the tree is about to enter its dormant stage.