Here's How Quickly a Red Maple Tree Grows to Full Size

Red maples grow quickly, but they still need a few years to reach maximum height.

Red maples are popular choices for landscapes across the country because they're easy-to-grow shade trees. After bringing home a red maple tree sapling to plant in your yard, it might seem like it'll take forever for the skinny-looking stick to become a towering shade tree. The good news is that it may take less time than you would think. So, how fast do red maples grow? In general, maples grow fairly quickly, but it'll still take your new red maple tree several years to reach its full size. However, your young red maple will provide plenty of beautiful color and cooling shade throughout these years as it matures.

red maple tree growing outdoors
Adam Albright

How Fast Do Red Maples Grow?

Some trees are slow growers (20-30 years to reach full size) and other types of trees grow fast (10-15 years). The good news is that red maples grow at a relatively fast speed; in the tree world, this equals about 12-18 inches of height a year. However, you'll have to be patient for it to become a full-size tree because it can take about 25 years before this type of maple tree stops adding more height. In the end, you'll have a substantial shade tree; the mature height for red maples is anywhere from 40 to 60 feet tall and 35 to 45 feet wide.

As you're waiting for your red maple tree to grow to its full height, you can still expect it to add beauty to your yard even before it reaches maturity. Every year of growth will add more and more red color to your garden and the tree will put on a show for you in the fall (with red leaves, of course). But the reason it got its name is because the tree starts to take on a scarlet tinge in late winter as its red flower buds (yes, maples have flowers) develop, followed by red stems for the leaves.

Those maple flowers turn into those propeller "spinners" that twirl down to the ground in the spring. Called samaras, the spinners carry the red maple seeds, which you can try growing new trees from for an easy garden project. Actually, Mother Nature will want to grow those samaras too, so be sure to rake them up before they sprout in places you'd rather not have a tree seedling popping up.

How to Grow Red Maple Trees

Maple trees, like fruit trees, engage in alternate bearing (which is a tendency to create an abundance of seeds one year and only a few the next); so, watch for bumper crop years to get the most viable seeds. Maple seeds may require stratification prior to sowing, but they can be sown in containers or directly into the ground. 

Remember that red maples have wide, shallow roots that will heave up your sidewalk if you give them a chance. Choose a planting site well back from the street (at least six feet), and you'll both be happier. Then, keep your new tree well-watered during its first season to help it grow strong roots in its new location.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where can I get a red maple sapling or seeds?

    Red maple saplings can be purchased at most nurseries or home improvement stores. You can also purchase seeds from nurseries and online shops—or wait for the red maple trees around you to drop their seeds (in late spring or early fall) and collect the seeds to grow a new tree.

  • Do deer eat red maples?

    Deer love to snack on the tender shoots and leaves of red maple trees—especially after fall temperatures and trapped sugars in the leaves begin to break down the green pigments from chlorophyll and produce the anthocyanin pigments we know as fall colors. 

  • What's the best maple tree for fall color?

    When it comes to fall colors, maple trees offer some of the most vibrant colors—but some types are more reliably brilliant than others. For the ultimate show of fall color, look for red maples, Japanese, sugar, autumn blaze, Norway, amur, and striped maple trees. 

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