by Amanda Rose Newton
With August officially here and stores stocked with back-to-school supplies, fall is just around the corner.
While one of the best features of living the Florida lifestyle is the abundance of exotic, tropical plants, nothing quite signals a change in seasons like fall leaf color.
Luckily, there are several trees that still bring on that crisp, cool air nostalgia that many who grew up elsewhere in the world might be missing. The Florida Maple (Acer flordianum), with its sensational robust orange-red fall leaf color, is the perfect way to usher in the seasons in your landscape.
Florida Maple Requirements
The Florida Maple performs best in Central Florida, so Zone 9a and 9b. If you are out on Merritt or the Barrier Islands, be aware that it might not do as well and is not salt tolerant.
You can expect these maples to be a bit smaller than what you would see up north, maxing out around 50 feet high and 25 feet wide. If you happen to have a lower area that stays moist in your yard, this tree would be a great fit as maples love organic, wet soil.
As a fast grower, the maple will provide you with shade and screening quickly. However, for this reason, it is not the toughest tree in the yard during hurricanes and should be carefully planted away from structures.
There are several cultivars of A. floridum, including ‘Endowment columnar’, ‘Goldspire’, ‘Majesty’, and ‘Sweet shadow cutleaf’. All differ in leaf color, growth habit, and height.
Sugar maples, Japanese maples, and silver maples are not recommended for growing in Florida.
Planting Your Maple Tree
Maples enjoy both full and partial sun and traditionally does well in most soils, with moist areas being their favorite.
Irrigating your tree well from the beginning will improve its overall success down the road.
Make sure to dig the hole so the tree is sitting with base level to the ground and fill with half your dirt and half Rockledge garden planting mix for best results. Maples are not drought tolerant and can benefit from extra irrigation in the summer months.
Florida Maple Pests and Diseases
Luckily, maples are tough trees when it comes to pests and diseases. They can be susceptible to wilt disease, which results in limp branches, yellowing leaves with brown margins, and a decline in growth. Pests such as aphids, gall mites, and scale can all affect maples, and can generally be controlled using insecticidal soap or an insecticidal drench.
It may be a few months before the weather starts getting cooler, but in the meantime, you can enjoy the color change offered by a Florida maple, while enjoying your (iced) pumpkin spice latte to welcome the new season.