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October Glory Maple vs Autumn Blaze (Differences and Similarities)

Today, I’d like to introduce you to two fantastic red-leafed maples. At first glance, they might seem identical, but upon closer inspection, we’ll uncover what they share and where they differ.

The primary distinction between October Glory Maple and Autumn Blaze Maple lies in leaf size and color timing. October Glory Maple has notably larger leaves than the Autumn Blaze Maple. Furthermore, Autumn Blaze displays its red foliage earlier in the season compared to October Glory.

In terms of growth, Autumn Blaze outpaces October Glory Maple. Over the same time frame, Autumn Blaze will typically grow larger. Additionally, the root system of Autumn Blaze Maple is more robust and aggressive than that of October Glory, which can lead to it being considered invasive in some settings.

october glory vs autumn blaze maple

October Glory Maple and Autumn Blaze Maple

October Glory Maple Autumn Blaze Maple
USDA Hardiness zone 4-9 3-8
Mature height 30′ (9 m) 45′ (13,5 m)
Mature width 25′ (7,5m) 30′ (9 m)
Growth rate 12-20” (30-50 cm) <24” (60 cm)
Leaf size 6” 3”
Light exposure full sun, partial shade full sun, partial shade
Soil moist, clay, sandy, loam moist, clay, sandy, loam
Soil pH 5.5-6.5 5.5-6.5
Watering 1-2 times per week in a drought 1-2 times per week in a drought
Diseases fungus fungus
Pests insects insects

Leaves

October Glory’s leaves are significantly larger than those of Autumn Blaze, measuring about 6 inches in both width and length. In contrast, Autumn Blaze’s leaves are typically no more than 3 inches across. This size difference gives October Glory a denser appearance and a more substantial canopy, offering better shade.

When it comes to leaf color change, October Glory’s leaves turn red later in the season compared to Autumn Blaze. So, for earlier vibrant foliage, Autumn Blaze is the preferable choice. However, both varieties maintain their bright foliage for an extended period, lasting until late autumn.

A unique feature of Autumn Blaze is the silvery underside of its leaves, a trait inherited from the Silver Maple. This creates a striking bicolor effect. October Glory also has a slightly grayish underside to its leaves, but it’s less pronounced than in Autumn Blaze.

Size and shape

Autumn Blaze outpaces its counterparts in terms of growth, with an annual increase that can surpass 24 inches. In comparison, October Glory typically experiences a more moderate growth, averaging around 16 inches per year.

This faster growth rate of Autumn Blaze results in a larger overall size. It often reaches up to 45 feet in height and 30 feet in width. For those seeking a majestic tree quickly, Autumn Blaze is an appealing choice.

Conversely, October Glory, with its slower growth, tends to be more compact, usually staying under 30 feet in height and 25 feet in width. This makes it an excellent option for those who prefer smaller, more manageable plants. Its crown is more rounded, providing a broader shade canopy while maintaining a shorter stature. Additionally, October Glory often presents a more visually striking appearance as a standalone plant compared to Autumn Blaze.

october glory vs autumn blaze maple

October Glory Maple and Autumn Blaze Maple

Hardiness

Autumn Blaze is well-suited for USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8, thriving in the cooler climates of the northern U.S. and even in parts of Canada. However, it does not fare well in the hotter climates of the southern U.S., making it unsuitable for zones 9 to 11. Strategies like partial shading or increased watering are generally ineffective in these warmer regions.

On the other hand, October Glory is less frost-resistant and is not recommended for areas north of zone 4. While there are occasional reports of the tree sustaining damage from heavy snowfalls, such incidents are rare. A notable strength of October Glory is its ability to tolerate heat in zone 9, although it will require regular watering in such conditions.

Considering these factors, October Glory may be more adaptable to a wider range of U.S. climates, as it can grow in almost any area, from cooler northern regions to the warmer southern zones.

Roots

Both the Autumn Blaze and October Glory trees are derived from the Silver Maple, inheriting some of its less desirable traits. The Silver Maple is notorious for its invasive root system, which can hinder the growth of other plants underneath and potentially damage house foundations.

Autumn Blaze, being a direct descendant of the Silver Maple and characterized by its larger size and more robust growth, has particularly aggressive roots. It’s unlikely that shade-loving plants will thrive under its canopy. Additionally, it’s recommended to plant Autumn Blaze at least 15 feet away from any buildings to prevent potential root damage.

October Glory, while also a descendant, exhibits a less aggressive root system. With careful planning, it’s possible to grow certain perennials under this maple. However, to avoid issues with its roots, a minimum distance of 12 feet from any structures is advised when planting October Glory.

Origin

Autumn Blaze is an interspecific hybrid, a cross between Acer rubrum (Red Maple) and Acer saccharinum (Silver Maple), and is also known as Acer x freemanii ‘Jeffersred’. This hybrid combines attributes from both its parent species, resulting in a blend of strengths and weaknesses.

October Glory, a descendant of Autumn Blaze, inherits many traits from this lineage. The identity of its other parent is not specified, but it clearly reflects the qualities of its ancestral species. The variety was developed by Glenn Jeffers, further contributing to its unique characteristics.

Similarities between October Glory Maple and Autumn Blaze Maple

October Glory Maple and Autumn Blaze Maple share several key similarities, which are just as crucial to consider as their differences when choosing the right tree for your needs.

Soil requirements

Both maples are not demanding regarding soil quality and thrive in various soil types, be it clay, loam, or sandy. In sandy soils, however, additional watering is necessary to compensate for quicker drainage.

october glory vs autumn blaze maple

Autumn Blaze Maple

Watering

Proper watering is essential for these maples, particularly due to their large leaves, which result in significant moisture loss. For the first few years, regular watering is needed if there’s no rain for over 7-10 days, with each watering session involving 1-2 gallons.

Once established, they typically don’t require watering, except during severe droughts in zone 9, where lack of water can cause leaf edges to dry out.

Sun exposure

Both varieties grow best in full sun, needing around six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily for robust growth. They can tolerate some shade, which can be beneficial in hot climates, but full shade is not ideal.

october glory vs autumn blaze maple

October Glory Maple

Common problems

Maples can be susceptible to diseases, often fungal, manifesting as leaf spots. These can usually be controlled with fungicide sprays.

Insect pests are another concern, particularly for young trees. If you notice leaf damage, treat the tree promptly with horticultural oil.