Already in early mythology, the maple tree was said to have a special meaning: it exudes calm and keeps away evil spirits, which is why it was very popular as a protective house tree. Even today the maple has an exceptional position in our gardens. It is considered a very noble and symbolic plant.

Occurrence and species 

Around 150 different types of maple are known worldwide. In German forests and open spaces, mainly tall varieties grow that can be several centuries old and can reach a height of over 20 meters.

  • Field maple (shrubby tree shape)
  • Sycamore maple
  • Spitzahorn

The smallest native species is the Norway maple. It is only about 15 meters high. Its foliage is particularly rich in intense red and yellow hues in autumn. The maple is also used as an ornamental plant in parks and avenues. In our gardens, it is primarily the Japanese maple species that are particularly popular. While the summer foliage of the local maple is rather unspectacular green on the spreading branches, it is not only the low, shrub-like shape of Asian plants that inspires, but also the intensely dark red summer foliage of certain species. The shape of the maple leaves is reminiscent of a hand with five fingers. Some species have heavily scratched (feathery) leaves or orange-red foliage in spring. Popular species for single planting in the garden are:

  • Silver ash maple: 5-7 meters, foliage spotted green and white
  • Japanese maple, split maple: 2-4 meters, finely branched, leaves reddish-green, heavily scratched
  • Japanese maple, Japanese maple: 1.5-3 meters, pink-red or green-leaved, relatively small, pointed leaves
  • Japanese maple: 2-3 meters, blood-red summer foliage
  • Ball maple (small form of Norway maple): crown with a bushy, refined crown, light green leaves

Fast-growing, native species are also very suitable for planting hedges, such as the field or norway maple. Japanese ornamental forms are usually very expensive, so they are rarely used in hedge planting. But they are all the more popular in bonsai cultivation and are ideal for planting in pots.

In order to show off a maple particularly well, it is advisable to choose its future location in the garden before buying it and also to select the shape, height and color accordingly.


Most maple species can be found in loose floodplain and mixed forests, on the edge of the forest or as field trees. They prefer moderate latitudes, also grow in hills or altitudes of up to 800 meters and are rather undemanding and adaptable with regard to the soil conditions. In the garden or in parks they are preferably planted near seating, on or on terraces or balconies and on the banks of water.

  • Light requirement: sun to partial shade
  • Soil: nutrient-rich, light soil with good storage capacity for water
  • pH value: slightly acidic as well as slightly alkaline (calcareous) soils
  • Ash maple also grows on dry, slightly acidic soils
  • sheltered from the wind
  • sensitive to waterlogging

A sandy loam soil with a slightly crumbly structure should be mentioned as a perfect soil. Most maple species prefer slightly alkaline soil, but too high a lime content is harmful to them.

Watering and fertilizing

While a few dry days do not harm the maple with its heart-shaped roots, long periods of dryness lead to leaf spots or the death of individual branches or shoots. Therefore, a maple should be given plenty of water during hot or dry periods, preferably on the root ball. As with most other plants, moisture on the leaves easily leads to burns on the foliage due to the lens effect of the drops in sunshine. Watering on the root ball in the evening is ideal. A maple also does not tolerate waterlogging, so the soil should be able to drain off the excess water.

In early summer (May / June) a mineral depot fertilizer such as blue grain is fertilized. The nutrients from these slow release fertilizers are only slowly dissolved by the moisture in the soil and cannot be washed out by the rain. A single fertilization is then sufficient for the entire growth phase in summer.

Planting and care

A maple is not very demanding, it thrives on almost all soils – it just doesn’t like waterlogging at all. So if the garden soil is very damp or if the rainwater does not flow off easily, the soil must be prepared accordingly for it to flourish. With a few simple tricks, a maple can grow well even on very moist soil. Later transplanting is usually very difficult, so the soil should be prepared accordingly from the start. In the worst case, it is constantly ailing in an unfavorable location or it dies.

  • rework damp soils with sand or peat
  • For air circulation: loosen the soil 50 centimeters deep
  • Wet soils: add 30-50% sand or gravel to the soil, lay an additional drainage layer (10 centimeters layer thickness)
  • Permanently wet soil: embankment in the form of a hill (at least 50 centimeters), plant in the hill.

If the maple has found its place in a well-drained soil, it is very easy to care for. Only in autumn does it lose its lush leaves, which should be raked. In spring it is advisable to apply a good portion of mulch to the soil, this prevents the soil from drying out quickly.

Tip: Large types of maple such as the sycamore maple should always be planted at a large distance from house walls or pipes. Like its treetop, the heart-shaped roots are quite pronounced and, in the worst case, can lead to wet basements or clogged pipes.

To cut

A maple doesn’t need to be pruned in order to grow well or to have a nice shape. However, if you want to limit the growth of your maple or have a tub or bonsai plant, you should not prune it in autumn or winter. Because diseases and fungi that damage the plant can quickly penetrate the interfaces. A cut should be done in summer. Here, only individual branches or shoots are cut out for correction. The maple does not like radical cuts. For most plants this is not necessary at all, as a maple naturally has a very beautiful and compact growth habit.

Hedge plants

High and stable hedges can be planted with field maple – perfect as a living privacy screen in summer when delimiting the property. In contrast to evergreen hedges, those made from field maple have the advantage that they do not have to be cut conically. Balding on the inside almost never occurs if the shape is kept square or rectangular. A maple also needs a lot of light as a hedge plant, so it should not be planted in the shadows of buildings or walls.

  • Plant spacing: 60 centimeters, 80 centimeters is better
  • Loosen the soil.
  • Possibly lay drainage.
  • Mix sand or gravel under the soil.
  • Insert the root ball slightly above normal soil level.
  • Pile up with earth (slight hill).

If you have a little patience and can use the scissors well, you can conjure up hedge gates or even hedge arbors out of your maple trees. As a hedge plant, however, the maple requires a little more maintenance. So that the hedge always looks nice and compact, it has to be cut twice a year: once in spring and once in late summer. A single cut per year is usually not enough, as the field maple grows very strongly in a favorable place.


A maple tree is usually responsible for its reproduction alone. In spring, the tree’s winged split fruits ripen and fall off. Many of them then germinate very quickly in the immediate vicinity. Rooting usually takes place very quickly. Since the roots branch out very quickly after a short time, they should be implemented quickly, as they can only be removed with great effort with increasing age.

Growing from seeds is very easy and can also be done by a layperson. However, it takes many years for the seedling to grow into a stately maple tree.

  • Time to sow: September
  • Loosen the seeds from the wing cover.
  • Place in a glass between two damp cotton pads.
  • Germination time: about a week
  • Put the seedling in a pot with sandy potting soil.
  • Temperature: cool (12-15 degrees)
  • Location: bright (without direct sunlight)
  • After a few weeks get used to the open field (sheltered, partially shaded place).

After about six months, the young plant, which is now around 30 centimeters in size, can be planted in a suitable place in the garden.

Note: It is very difficult or almost impossible to multiply the various Japanese maple species. Almost all of the Japanese maple plants available on the market are grafted, as it is said that real Japanese maple species have a very short life expectancy.

Propagation by cuttings

Propagating the maple by cuttings is not easy. Most species will not grow from cuttings. However, one species in which this method of propagation works quite well is the fire maple.

  • Time: July
  • Cut the head cuttings with three to four pairs of leaves.
  • Remove the bottom pair of leaves.
  • Slightly scrape off the bark in the lower area with a sharp knife.
  • This wounding ensures better root formation.
  • Soil: sterile, sandy cultivation soil
  • Water requirement: slightly damp (not wet!)
  • Location: bright, without direct sunlight
  • Temperature: 12-15 degrees
  • in case of low humidity: cover with a plastic bag.
  • Cut a few holes in the bag and air it daily.


All maple species are hardy and can withstand severe frosts. Only young plants as well as potted and bonsai plants require special protection.

  • Older maple trees in the open do not need any measures to overwinter.
  • Pile up young plants around the trunk with soil or leaves.
  • Place potted plants in large pots on a styrofoam plate on a house wall protected from the weather.
  • Cover the ground with sticks, straw or dry leaves.
  • Bonsai plants or maple in small pots: place light in a cool, mostly frost-free place (temperatures between 2-6 degrees are ideal)
  • Avoid higher temperatures in potted plants (they will then sprout and tend to freeze)
  • Can be removed from the pot and planted in a protected spot in the garden.
  • If the pot is frost-proof, it can also be planted in the ground.
  • Pile up with earth, leaves or straw
  • To protect against late night frosts: Protect leaves with a fleece and move them closer to the house wall.

Diseases and pests

In an optimal location, the maple is very robust. However, it becomes more vulnerable in severe drought or wet soil.

  • Gall mites: plant gall on the leaves (usually unproblematic)
  • Powdery mildew: mealy fungal spots on the leaves, mostly caused by drought stress
  • Leaf spots: yellow to brown spots on the foliage: drought stress
  • Dry leaf tips: Leaf tip drought, location too windy
  • Aphids: Occurrence in July / August, remedy with means against sucking insects
  • Spider mites: In summer on poorly nourished plants, fertilize and spray with pesticides
  • Dying branches by fungi: too wet location, remove affected areas generously, change location or drain the soil.

Maple trees come in a wide variety of sizes, leaf shapes and foliage colors. Their palm-shaped leaves are more or less incised depending on the species and can take on shades of green and red in summer. The combination of a light-leaved maple with a red-leaved variant is particularly beautiful. In autumn, the leaves of the maple trees change color spectacularly: bright yellow to dark red. Except for a well-drained soil and a little water when it is dry, the plants do not have any special requirements and prove to be very robust.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *