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What do YOU think of Autumn Blaze maples?

14 years ago

I had all but decided on an Autumn Blaze maple, then I saw a thread on here that was *blasting* them for various reasons. I want a nice shade tree for my yard (which has unrelenting sun on 100% of it) and I want it to grow FAST!

Tell me what you think of Autumn Blaze, or if you have a different recommendation. I'm truly not interested in something that will be far more beautiful in 25 years; I'm looking for something to be provide some real shade in 5-10 years.

Thanks for your expertise!

Comments (19)

  • Embothrium
    14 years ago

    Do you want to cook for 5 to 10 years while the new tree develops? Maybe put up an arbor or use other architectural solution instead.

  • iforgotitsonevermind
    14 years ago

    This topic always starts a war.
    On the east coast you'd be better off with a red maple cultivar like october glory which grows faster. Autumn blaze are a hybrid between red and silver maple. Silver maple is not a desirable tree but the hybrid allows people out west to have a maple where soils don't support red maples.
    The autumn blaze maples I see in the nursery are not as densely branched and they always look like someone took a bite out of them.

    Your mileage may vary. But if red maple does well where you are I know you'll be happier with one of those instead.

  • jm30
    14 years ago

    I would go with a red maple cultivar also, October Glory or Red Sunset, are 2 of the better ones in my opinion. They will grow at the same rate as an Autumn Blaze, and have a better form and branching structure. I think they have better fall color too than Autumn Blaze. I would go with a smaller tree as opposed to a big one. They establish much quicker and grow MUCH faster than a big one for the first 5 years. I planted a 10' October Glory 4 years ago and a 6' OG 2 years ago. They are both the same size already.

  • dirtslinger2
    14 years ago

    When doing my research for fast growing maples for shade purposes like yourself, I chose AB as one type of about 9 trees.

    First I heard of them being a crap tree was here.

    It is going to be a heckuva lot better than a silver from my research.

    I say do it BUT don't plant it (OR ANY TREE) up against the house, septic system, or damageable property.

    All trees are going to fail at some point, so simply use judgment on choosing location...

  • arbordave (SE MI)
    14 years ago

    Not sure where you're located, but here in the Midwest 'Autumn Blaze' maple grows significantly faster than straight red maple ('Red Sunset', 'October Glory', etc) ... and is more adaptable. It definitely has its drawbacks, but still makes a reasonably good, relatively low-maintenance shade tree. There are a couple other "freeman" maples (similar to Autumn Blaze) on the market, but they're not as easy to find. Another option for fast growth (and relatively low maintenance) would be one of the newer disease-resistant elms like 'Accolade' or 'Triumph' (there are also some disease-resistant American elm cultivars). Planetrees are fast growing and adaptable, but are relatively messy when they get big. The Morton Arboretum has produced a few improved cultivars that you might consider.

  • jm30
    14 years ago

    I personally wouldn't put Autumn Blaze on the "crap tree" list, but if you're in the market for maple there are nicer ones that grow just as fast. They still have the silver maple lineage, it shows in the irregular form and limb breakage.
    Also, the previous poster called a Red Sunset and October Glory a "straight red maple". That's not true. They are cultivars in the Red Maple family. A straight species red maple does have a slower growth rate and not as brilliant fall color. But the 2 cultivars mentioned are (for lack of better terms), the more refined children with a growth rate pretty much equal to an Autumn Blaze (at least in my zone 6) A straight red maple is actually hard to find, most everywhere sells various the cultivars.
    On a side note, there are many oak trees that will grow almost a fast most maples. Just a thought to consider. And no tree is going to give meaningful shade in 5 years. It'll take at least 8-10 years to get significant shade.

  • mrgpag SW OH Z5/6
    14 years ago

    Well Amy, since we don't have any idea were you're located other than in zone 6B somewhere in the US, I'm not going to provide any recommendations.
    My experience with AB - Planted a small B&B tree 10 years ago and it grew rather quickly, it's roots didn't invade and take over an adjacent flower bed, the foliage maintained a bright green color all summer including periods of drought(unlike the Reds whose foliage always drooped and looked stressed during those conditions), The limb structure was not bad for a fast growing tree and unlike all the Silvers in the neighborhood - sustained NO damage when Hurricane Ike blew threw Ohio. Fall color was always a good red - not as bright red as the Reds, but acceptable. This spring the tree had a 12"+ trunk and was about 45 tall.
    BUT - ever since being a young tree there were vertical seams in the bark. First a few and then more with age. These seams ran vertically from the base of the trunk up to where branching started - about 8 feet - and all around the trunk. This spring most of those seams opened exposing areas on the trunk where there was no cambium layer. This occurred all around the trunk and there were only a couple places with cambium. Also this spring the tree driopped a tremendous amount of seed and the fall color started setting in June. It was obvious to me this tree was doomed and I cut it down recently. Then I checked around the neighborhood and all ABs - mostly younger trees that I had recommended - I found displayed the same conditions.
    No one locally could provide an explanation as to what the problem is with these ABs, but I did find an article on-line that pointed to the use of Roundup in the nursery and it being absorbed into the young bark.

    I really liked this tree - would I plant another - I don't thinks so.
    My 2 cents

    please excuse any spelling errors as this computer doesn't have a spell checker

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    14 years ago

    if you think you will EVER want to garden .. in the shade... then maple is the second worse tree to plant under .. period .... refer to the hundreds of posts in the hosta forum about maples ...

    where are you .... i know a tree farmer... in mansfield OH.. who will swear .... that oaks grow faster than maples.. and he has been dealing with them on his 500 acres for 70 years ...

    GO FOR AN OAK ..... deep rooted.. long lived.. fast growing .... it will be there for 100 years longer than a maple ....

    i didnt read all the replies .... but buying bigger is not necessarily going to get you anywhere faster ... i planted 6 foot bare roots in 4/2000 .... that are now going on 30 feet ....

    bigger trees... are more stressed on transplant.. take longer to re-establish .... and in a given time frame.. will most likely be outgrown by something half the size ...

    august is not planting time for trees.. so also plan on acting at proper planting time.... sometime in October ...

    if you wish.. email me.. and i will get you a reference to the tree farm.. if you are within 100 miles of Columbus OH or so ... it would be a nice drive ....

    good luck


  • arbordave (SE MI)
    14 years ago

    jm30 - you got me on a technicality! It is true that "straight red maple" usually refers to non-named Acer rubrums, but I was using the phrase to distinguish all the rubrums (including named varieties) from the freemanii's, which are considered "hybrids". As for growth rate, I have never seen a rubrum (named or otherwise) that grows as fast as Autumn Blaze.

    As has been mentioned, Autumn Blaze is susceptible to stem cracks. Also susceptible to leaf galls and tar spot. Somewhat susceptible to storm damage. Aggressive surface roots can cause problems. In spite of the negatives, still should be considered if you have a less than ideal site and you're looking for fast growth. A newer cultivar similar to AB is 'Redpointe' (marketed as a rubrum, but is probably a freemanii) - will probably grow almost as fast as AB, and may turn out to have fewer problems.

  • dirtman16
    14 years ago

    I planted two Autumn Blazers in my backyard in Dothan, AL about 4 years ago. One has done well, the other cracked and has become diseased. The healthy one was GORGEOUS last fall, which is particularly difficult to get this far south.

    As an aside, I also planted an October Glory red maple about 50 feet away from the Blazers. While its fall color has not been as spectacular, it has grown faster than either of the Autumn Blaze maples.

  • katrina1
    14 years ago

    It is so true that even fast growing trees planted to provide good shading in otherwise full sun areas, will take many years, before they have matured enough to provide the needed shade.

    If there are house windows in direct line of such exposure, it is proving to be much better to install sun screens on those windows. The better companies offer their customers a choice of shading degrees, and once installed those screens look darker when observed from the outside, but at the same time those looking from the inside of the house through those screened windows enjoy the decreased solor heat-up in the house, yet do not notice at all that the windows have the sun-shade screens on them.

    So go ahead and plant trees which in time will begin to reduce the radiant passive heat-up of your house, but long before that you can increase the comfort factor in your home by having sun-shade screens installed at least on any direct eastern or western exposure windows.

  • arbordave (SE MI)
    14 years ago

    Autumn Blaze was originally selected in Ohio and may be better adapted to Midwest conditions than it is to eastern or southern conditions (a possible explanation for its slower growth in those regions compared to the rubrum cultivars). Likewise, some of the rubrum cultivars are better adapted to the east & south than they are to the upper Midwest. My observations are limited primarily to the Great Lakes states (MI, OH, IN, IL, WI) where Autumn Blaze (and other freemanii's - Autumn Fantasy, Celebration, and Marmo) consistently outgrow the rubrums - including October Glory and Red Sunset.

  • iforgotitsonevermind
    14 years ago

    OK then. Glad we got to the bottom of that.

  • arbordave (SE MI)
    14 years ago

    At the risk of beating a dead horse (my apologies to the previous poster), there really is one more thing that needs to be said - Autumn Blaze, Red Sunset, and October Glory have all been planted to excess. We need more diversity among the maples. There are other very good cultivars that are becoming more widely available (especially for the rubrums). Some good substitutes for Autumn Blaze include: Autumn Fantasy, Firefall, Redpointe, Saturn (all 3 have excellent fall color). The freemanii's Celebration and Sienna are also fast growers, but don't have consistently good fall color (in my observations). Nursery growers will respond with increased production if more customers are asking for these newer varieties.

  • tree_oracle
    14 years ago

    I have both Autumn Blaze and October Glory and in my area the Autumn Blaze is faster growing although not by much. My take on Autumn Blaze is that the fall color is less consistent than on the acer rubrum cultivars "October Glory" and "Red Sunset". Some years, it puts on a decent show but other years not so much. While the tree has a better structure than a silver maple, it still retains quite a bit of its characteristics from this parent. This is particularly obvious from it's root system which is extremely thick and aggressive. The tree needs some pruning here and there to eliminate some poor branching angles. I've pruned mine extensively. To get an idea of how fast Autumn Blaze grows, I've included a picture of mine when it was planted in 2002 and a picture of it today. It's much bigger in person than it looks in the picture from today. That pic really doesn't give you the 3-D perspective needed to appreciate it's size. The growing season in New England is short so I would imagine a much larger tree down South in the same 7-year time frame.



  • arktrees
    14 years ago

    Well I'm late to this party, but here's my $0.02.
    I like AB. I have one, and a Autumn Fantasy. Both grew 3+ feet for me this year. Several people on my street have Red Sunset Maples on well fertilized lawns, and they grew 12-20". There is an October Glory where I work that grew 12-15" without fertilizer. So my my Zone 6B, Autumn Blaze and Autumn Fantasy in no way shape or form grow slower than red maples cultivars as some have claimed. Simply is not true. Also there is a large AB where I work that has a large trunk and is at least 40' tall. Very mature. It lost a very few limbs about 1-2" inches in size to the worst ice storm on record for where I live this past winter. Quarter mile down the road October Glories about 35' were HEAVILY damaged, though the one in front of my work had mild damage (smaller tree). Also in the case of AF, the parent tree originates in Illinois if i remember correctly, and survived many many ice storms without major damage. Lastly, the these red maple cultivars in my location color very late, and absolutely do not last as long. Fall color is reliably great here. Also the color of my AF is a darker more dark brick red, and is a more open tree.

    So personally, here where I live, all are good selections, but you won't beat the growth rate of AB/AF with a red maple. But I suggest that you consider Autumn Fantasy. Harder to find, but certainly worth it. Lastly, for climate reference sake, Sugar Maples are very common and long lived here. They are native and common in the hills if you know where to look even though they often are not shown to be present on many distribution maps.


  • joncush
    13 years ago

    I planted 3.5 inch each of Blaze, 3 Sunsets, 1 Trident, 2 Sugars and an October Glory. Next to the Trident, the Blaze is the fastest growing of the bunch. The Blaze is also the brightest Red although it is the first to turn. Two of my Sunsets turned a brilliant red but not as deep as the Blaze and the 2nd Sunset is both red/yellow. My final is the October Glory which is an orange reddish color.

    Overall my Blaze is my favorite tree. It doesn't branch out as much as the others but with a little proper pruning it'll be perfect.

  • musicalperson
    13 years ago

    So joncush, You're saying that your trident maple grows the fastest?! That doesn't sound quite right. When were these trees planted because 3.5" caliper trees can take a few years to become established and the growth rate once established may be different.