Best Fast Growing Tree For Fall Color

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Need a fast growing tree with great fall color? Planting an Autumn Blaze Maple is your best choice. It's tried and true and was even voted as the 2004 Urban Tree of the Year and Tree of the Year in 1997 by Iowa's Nursery and Landscape Association. It is best known for its gorgeous fall color, fast growth rates, leafhopper tolerance, and its ability to adapt to a wide range of climate and soil conditions from zone 3 to zone 6. This tree is so versatile it can grow in most areas of the United States and Canada. You definitely want it in your landscape.

Autumn Blaze Maple is in the Family Aceraceae. It is one of many Ace rubrum * A saccharainum hybrids developed by Poplar Farms. Considered a hybrid maple developed by crossing the silver maple (Acer saccharinum) with the red maple (Acer rubrum). Both of these parent trees had unreliable characteristics as a shade tree, but the breeders took the best qualities of both parents to make an outstanding fast growing tree which has a well-balanced branching habit, has beautiful fall color, is disease resistant to leafhopper damage, and grows well in tough areas such as clay, wet, or even dry problem areas.

Another great quality of this tree is its superior growth habit. Used as a specimen tree, or in clusters or stands, this maple will grow 50 to 60 feet tall and be about 30 to 40 feet wide. It has an oval growth habit with ascending branches and is nearly seedless. The leaves look like a silver maple with a rich, medium green with pretty scarlet, orange and red fall color. It also has excellent winter color because the rapid growth produces longer branching in one season than most maples. This adds interest and color to the winter landscape and the new growth limbs are wonderful in winter flower arrangements.


Water your Autumn Blaze deeply and infrequently during prolonged dry periods. Having a good layer of mulch will help to retain the moisture in between waterings. When you mulch, be sure to keep the mulch 2 inches from the trunk of the tree to prevent insect damage.

Fertilize established trees in late winter. Spread fertilizer evenly under the canopy of the tree.

Pruning in fall and spring is recommended because of its rapid growth. Take out dead growth and weak branches. Also remove interior spindly growth to allow more sunlight to penetrate the tree to insure a healthy tree. Winter pruning keeps the tree healthy and able to resist springs diseases and insects. If you shape the tree when it's young by having strong outward branches and removing extra smaller side shoots and suckers from the base of the tree, you will be rewarded with a nice specimen tree.

Autumn Blaze Maple is ranked one of the best performers for growth and fall color display for the Southeastern U.S. This Acer freemanii hybrid should be planted more in the urban setting since it combines the best characteristics of its parents, Red and Silver Maples.

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Julia Stewart and her husband have been gardening for over 27 years. For more expert gardening tips visit their web site at

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