Hi there! Today, let’s dive into the Crimson King Maple. Is it the perfect addition to your garden? Let’s find out! I’ll share the pros and cons of this tree.
The Crimson King Maple, or Acer platanoides ‘Crimson King’, started as a seedling in Europe in the 1930s. Fast forward twenty years, and it made its way to the USA, where it became widely popular for its ornamental beauty.
|Messiness and Invasiveness
|Challenging Root System
|Adaptable to Various Soil Types
|Vulnerable to Diseases
|Moderate Heat Tolerance
|Robust Pest Resistance
|Limited Drought Tolerance
Pro: Spectacular Foliage
The standout feature of the Crimson King Maple is undoubtedly its leaves. They’re the main attraction for choosing this variety.
Each leaf spans about 5 inches in both length and width. With a deeply divided, five-lobed design, these leaves have a strikingly sharp appearance.
What really sets them apart is their color. Initially, the leaves burst forth in a vivid, glossy purple. As time goes by, they lose a bit of shine and darken slightly.
A key characteristic is how the color persists throughout the season, right into fall. This is unlike some other varieties that fade to a greenish hue in the summer.
And the show doesn’t stop there. Come fall, the Crimson King truly lives up to its name, transforming into a rich crimson. The leaves gradually shift through various shades of red before finally settling into a deep brown as they fall.
Pro: Shade-Giving Canopy
Another great reason to go for the Crimson King Maple is its lush, expansive canopy, perfect for creating shade. This tree can soar to heights of over 45 feet and spread out to about 35 feet in width. It’s a sizeable tree, so remember this when deciding where to plant it.
Thanks to its broad reach and dense leaf coverage, the Crimson King Maple offers a generous area of full shade beneath it. This creates an ideal spot for relaxation or various outdoor activities.
Pro: Adaptable to Various Soil Types
A big plus for the Crimson King Maple is its adaptability to a range of soil conditions. The Norwegian maple, widely spread across the globe, is known for this trait, and the Crimson King shares it.
First off, it’s worth noting its tolerance for heavy clay soils, often bogged down with moisture. This tree can handle and even thrive in such conditions, absorbing and evaporating lots of water. This prevents root issues, a common problem in other tree species.
The tree does equally well in loamy soil. However, in sandy soils, it might face some challenges due to insufficient moisture. In such cases, regular watering is necessary.
As for soil pH, the Crimson King Maple isn’t too picky. It grows well in neutral, slightly acidic, or slightly alkaline soils.
Pro: Sun Tolerance
The Crimson King Maple is quite versatile when it comes to sunlight exposure. It’s particularly good at handling full sun. In USDA hardiness zones 4-6, it thrives under direct sunlight all day without any issues.
It also does well in partial shade. In such conditions, the tree’s leaf color remains vibrant. This is a notable advantage over some other maple varieties, which can lose their distinctive color and turn green even in slight shade.
Pro: Robust Pest Resistance
A key feature of the Crimson King Maple is its strong resistance to pests. This tree is rarely troubled by insects, including mites. Let’s highlight a couple of common concerns:
Firstly, aphids – often a significant issue for many trees. Fortunately, they’re seldom a problem for the Crimson King Maple. Even if aphids do appear on its leaves and branches, they typically cause minimal harm.
Scale insects present a slightly more challenging issue, as they can be tricky to manage. However, Crimson King Maples have a natural deterrent that prevents scale colonies from becoming too large. Despite this natural resistance, it’s always wise to regularly inspect your trees for pests. If you do spot any, treating them with horticultural oil is a good practice.
Con: Messiness and Invasiveness
One downside of the Crimson King Maple is its tendency to be messy and invasive. Let’s break this down:
Firstly, there’s the litter issue. After the flowering period in late spring, you’ll find a scattering of small flowers around the tree.
Then, there are the seeds. The Crimson King produces a significant number of them. These seeds are winged and twinned, making it easy for the wind to carry them far and wide. This can lead to a widespread dispersal of seeds. The real challenge is that these seeds can germinate almost anywhere.
This leads to the second issue: invasiveness. The Norway maple, the species to which Crimson King belongs, is known for being invasive. Its seeds rapidly spread and dominate new areas. The Crimson King Maple is no exception. If you plant one, be prepared for regular removal of its seedlings from your yard.
Con: Challenging Root System
Dealing with the root system of the Crimson King Maple can be quite a task for gardeners. It’s tough to grow anything under this tree due to its extensive network of shallow surface roots. These roots absorb a lot of moisture and can easily outcompete other plants for resources.
Even growing grass under the Crimson King Maple can be difficult. The grass often struggles due to a lack of moisture and sunlight.
Additionally, if the tree reaches a large size at maturity, its roots can potentially damage nearby structures. This is especially a concern if it’s planted too close to buildings. Therefore, it’s recommended to plant this variety at least 20 feet away from your house to avoid such issues.
Con: Vulnerable to Diseases
The Crimson King Maple is notably susceptible to diseases, particularly fungal infections. This vulnerability is exacerbated by its dense foliage and large leaves, which create favorable conditions for fungal spores to thrive.
One of the most prevalent issues is powdery mildew, identifiable by white spots on the leaves. Once it takes hold, this fungus can spread rapidly and cause considerable harm to the tree. Maples situated in humid environments with limited sunlight are especially prone to this disease.
Con: Moderate Heat Tolerance
The Crimson King Maple is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 4-7, with some success even in zone 3, indicating it’s quite frost-hardy. However, its tolerance to heat is a different story.
Sadly, if you’re in a region warmer than zone 7, the Crimson King Maple won’t be a viable option for your garden. In zone 7 itself, the tree may struggle with the heat. During its initial years, you might need to provide it with some partial shade to help it cope.
This means a significant number of gardeners in the warmer parts of the US might not be able to grow this particular maple variety in their gardens.
Con: Limited Drought Tolerance
The final drawback of the Crimson King Maple is its low tolerance for drought conditions. This tree has a preference for moist environments and can even handle brief periods of waterlogged soil. This need for moisture is partly due to its extensive foliage, which results in significant water evaporation.
To maintain its health and compensate for its water needs, it’s essential to water this maple regularly during dry spells.