'Red Sunset' Maple
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Acer rubrum 'Franksred'
‘Red Sunset’ refers to this maple’s foliage in autumn when it flames vermilion. The flower clusters, which appear on silvery bare branches in early spring also burn red, as do some of the emerging three to five-lobed leaves. However, the foliage shortly turns green and remains that cooling color for most of the spring and summer months until the tree’s autumn show time.
This cultivar is considered one of the best maples for fall color because it develops its brilliant hues a couple weeks earlier than other trees and retains that blazing foliage longer than most—usually for at least three weeks. Although this fast-growing shade tree isn’t highly drought resistant, it can tolerate dry ground better than most other red maples. (Also known as scarlet or swamp maples, they tend to prefer wet conditions.)
Therefore, ‘Red Sunset’ should thrive almost anywhere except in alkaline or salty ground. Hardy from zones 3-9, it may eventually reach a height of 50 feet with a spread of 40 feet, starting out pyramidal but plumping into roundness as it ages. Its early flowers make it attractive to pollinators and help support them at a season when little else is blooming.
Culture: Red maples prefer full sun or partial shade and moist, acidic soil. They can stand somewhat soggy conditions, but may develop chlorosis—which causes paling leaves with darker veins—in overly alkaline ground. As with other maples, give them any needed pruning in late autumn or early winter to avoid their spring sap season.
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