What do you think of when you hear the words "maple tree"? A tall sugar maple? A small Japanese maple with lacy leaves? A fast-growing silver maple?
There are 13 species of maple trees native to North America, each with its own beauty, features, and growth rate. The best tip for getting a maple tree to grow faster is to select a fast-growing maple tree species and be sure to give it appropriate cultural care.
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Meet the Fast-Growing Silver Maple
The very fastest growing maple is the silver maple (Acer saccharinum), that can shoot up 10 to 12 feet in four or five years, topping out at some 70 feet tall and 50 feet wide. Given its rapid growth and its beautiful, silvery green leaves, it is a popular ornamental in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, although it is not without problems.
Silver maple roots can raise sidewalks and its wood is weak. To top off its problems, the tree is vulnerable to many diseases and attacked by several insect pests like the woolly alder aphid.
To help this maple grow as fast as possible and as long as possible, keep it healthy and be sure to situate it in a location with moist, well-drained soil, ideally in deep woods or along a river bank. If the soil is not naturally deep and moist, regular irrigation will be necessary.
Meet the Fast-Growing Red Maple
The red maple (Acer rubrum) grows quite fast, although not quite as fast as the silver maple. It can grow 10 to 12 feet in five to seven years, with a mature height of 40 to 60 feet in cultivation and a spread of up to 35 feet. Its wood can be brittle too, and branches can break in high winds. This species thrives in USDA zones 3 through 9.
You might assume that red maples have red leaves, but the leaves only turn red — and may turn orange or yellow instead — as part of their dramatic fall display. The tree gets its common name because it bears showy red blossoms on the bare branches of late winter, and these are followed by reddish samara fruit.
Red maples are attractive shade trees and are frequently used as street trees, although their roots can also be destructively powerful. They do best in moist, slightly acidic soil, in a partly shady site. Unlike other maple species, the red maple can tolerate wet soil as well.
Meet the Fast-Growing Freeman Maple
The Freeman maple (Acer x freemanii) has the best qualities of both the silver maple and the red maple, and it is a hybrid cross between the two. It offers the same broad soil tolerance and swift growth of the silver maple parent, together with the fall color of the red maple. These trees are also very popular, largely because of their brilliant autumn color, blending reds, oranges, and yellows. The cultivar 'Autumn Blaze' is particularly lovely.
Hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8, the Freeman maple grows extremely fast to 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide. It prefers well-drained soil that is consistently moist. This tree can be planted in a site with full or partial sun and, unlike its parents, is not prone to disease or insect pest infections.