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Red Sunset Maple vs October Glory (Differences and Similarities)

October Glory Maple is a big hit, and it’s easy to see why. However, let’s take a look at Red Sunset Maple, which could be just as amazing, or perhaps even more so.

October Glory thrives better in warmer conditions, whereas Red Sunset can withstand colder temperatures more effectively. Additionally, Red Sunset grows a bit quicker, at a rate of over 2 feet per year, and its fall colors appear about two weeks earlier than those of October Glory.

red sunset maple vs october glory

Red Sunset Maple and October Glory Maple

Red Sunset Maple October Glory Maple
USDA Hardiness zone 4-8 4-9
Mature height 50′ (15 m) 30′ (9 m)
Mature width 40′ (12 m) 25′ (7.5m)
Shape Pyramidal Rounded
Growth rate 1.5-2′ (45-60 cm) 12-20” (30-50 cm)
Leaves 6” across, red, orange-red 6” across, red, reddish-purple
Sunlight exposure Full sun, partial shade Full sun, partial shade
Soil Moist, clay, sandy, loam Moist, clay, sandy, loam
Soil pH 6.0-7.0 6.0-7.0
Watering 1-2 times per week in a drought 1-2 times per week in a drought
Diseases fungus fungus
Pests insects, mites insects, mites

Size and Shape

The main difference between these two maples starts with their size. Red Sunset is a bit bigger. In 10 years, it reaches about 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide, while October Glory will be around 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide.

Their growth rates vary too. October Glory usually grows about 12 inches a year, but with perfect conditions, it can shoot up to 20 inches. Red Sunset, on the other hand, grows about 1.5 feet annually and can reach up to 2 feet with plenty of water.

Because of its size, Red Sunset is great for big gardens or avenues. October Glory, however, fits better in small to medium gardens.

They also differ in shape. October Glory grows almost equally wide and tall. But Red Sunset has a more elongated, pyramid-like shape. So, if you need a broad canopy, go for October Glory, as it will spread wider than Red Sunset at the same height.

Foliage

Both maples excel with their leaves, each boasting 6-inch wide foliage. Their leaf shapes are quite alike, with 3-5 lobes, though October Glory’s lobes are cut a bit deeper.

A key difference is in the timing of their color change. October Glory turns red later than Red Sunset. So, if you’re looking for bright red leaves earlier and for a longer time, Red Sunset is the better choice.

In spring, both maples sprout bright green leaves, which become a bit lighter by summer. Come mid-September, Red Sunset’s leaves shift to a striking red, eventually transitioning to red-orange.

October Glory starts its color change later, around late September or early October. Initially, its color closely matches Red Sunset, but it soon evolves into a reddish-purple hue.

 

red sunset maple vs october glory maple

Red Sunset Maple and October Glory Maple

Heat tolerance

October Glory thrives in USDA hardiness zones 4-9. It handles the southern U.S. heat well, with no leaf burn, but might grow slower in these conditions due to potential moisture scarcity.

Red Sunset is best suited for zones 4-8, meaning it might not do well in zone 9. Its advantage lies in its cold tolerance and strong branches that resist cracking in snow. It can even adapt to zone 3 when sheltered from wind. At the same time October Glory may struggle even in zone 4.

Origin

Both October Glory and Red Sunset are types of Acer rubrum, sharing many traits of this species. October Glory emerged in a family nursery in New Jersey during the early 1960s and quickly gathered a large following, becoming a highly desired red maple.

Red Sunset, however, debuted 20 years earlier in Oregon. Its rise to fame began around the same time as October Glory’s, in the ’60s. Today, it’s tough to say which one is more popular.

Similarities between Red Sunset Maple vs October Glory Maple

Both Red Sunset Maple and October Glory Maple share several characteristics.

Messiness

These maples are known for their littering tendencies. Beyond just shedding an abundance of leaves in fall, they also drop numerous small flowers during the blooming season, blanketing the garden. Additionally, the dispersal of seeds over a wide area can be troublesome, as these seeds often germinate in unexpected spots, requiring regular removal of seedlings from your yard.

Soil Preferences

Both varieties are adaptable to various soil types, thriving in both nutrient-poor and rich soils, including heavy clay. However, they do not fare well in alkaline soil. The ideal pH for these maples is slightly acidic to neutral. A pH above 7.0 can lead to chlorosis, causing the leaves to turn yellow.

red sunset maple vs october glory maple

October Glory Maple

Watering Needs

For both Red Sunset and October Glory, it’s best to plant them where the soil remains consistently moist but without waterlogging, particularly crucial in zones 8 and 9. They require watering only during droughts, with about 2 gallons per session. Mature trees are drought-tolerant, but young saplings need regular watering in their initial years.

Sunlight Requirements

These maples need 6-8 hours of sunlight for optimal growth and a robust canopy. Insufficient sunlight leads to a sparse crown and weak branches, and increases susceptibility to fungal diseases. Both types can handle full sun and partial shade. In northern regions, full sun is preferable, while in southern areas (zones 8-9), partial shade is recommended, especially for Red Sunset, which is less heat-tolerant.

red sunset maple vs october glory maple

Red Sunset Maple

Pests and Diseases

Both varieties are susceptible to similar pests and diseases. Leafhoppers, for instance, can cause significant damage, particularly to young trees. Insecticides might be necessary for control. As for diseases, fungal infections are generally not a major threat but can cause leaf spotting. Using a fungicide can help maintain tree health.