How to Grow and Care for a Shantung Maple Tree

Shantung Maple (Acer Truncatum), also known as Purpleblow maple, is a close relative of the Japanese Acer tree.

Shantung Maple leaves in fall with frost

Native to China, Japan, and Korea, Shantung Maple are known for their pretty yellow flowers through Spring and their beautiful leaves, which, in Fall, change from a vibrant dark green through yellow into deep orange and finally red. Its stunning fall color makes it the perfect tree for adding some visual interest with color into your garden.

A hardy deciduous that is easy to grow, the Shantung Maple likes to be kept moist, particularly during its first year, but will happily thrive in all kinds of conditions and soil types.

Shantung Maple Varieties

As well as the regular Shantung Maple, there are a several popular cultivars that are hybrids with Norway Maples:

  • Crimson Sunset® Maple is particularly heat and drought tolerant. Its leaves turn purple through summer. Grows up to 35ft high.
  • Norwegian Sunset® Maple does well in hotter conditions and shows similar colors and characteristics to Shantung Maple.
  • Pacific Sunset® Maple has finer branches than its cousins and is slightly shorter in height.
  • Ruby Sunset® Maple has a different color profile, changing from dark green to deep red and is shorter and more compact than other cultivars.

How to Grow Shantung Maple

Shantung Maple is best grown from a sapling and can be used in gardens of all kinds. It will grow in most spaces, from full shade through to full sun, but a partially sunny, partially shady mix is optimal. Choose a tree of around 6-8 feet tall from the nursery, ideally from container-grown stock which will help with managing and protecting the root ball. Once planted, you can expect it to grow around 1′-2′ per year (initially).

You can, of course, also grow your maple from seed, but this will take a lot longer! Read on for detailed tips and instructions on growing from both saplings and seeds:

What Conditions Do You Need to Grow Shantung Maple?

Shantung Maple is very easy to grow and will tolerate a wide range of conditions, including mild to moderate frosts, drought, and waterlogging. It will even tolerate a degree of pollution in the air, making it a popular choice for front yards and driveways in urban areas. It prefers more acidic soil and only needs feeding once early in the year.

Shantung Maple roots tend to grow deep, not shallow like many other maple species, so they can be planted close to buildings and used to give shade cover to other smaller plants around it.

When Should You Plant Shantung Maple?

If planting as a sapling, it can be planted any time once the risk of first frosts has passed, right through to early Fall. If growing from seed, germinate the seeds through winter and plant seeds out in early Spring, once there is no risk of frost.

Growing Shantung Maple: Step-by-Step Instructions

Ready to grow? Let’s get started:

  1. Preparation – Choose your growing location carefully; Shantung Maple will need a degree of space to take root and grow into, as, once fully mature, it will grow to a mature height of around 25ft and a width of 15-20 feet.
  2. Planting – If you have chosen a root balled and burlapped specimen, you will need to prepare a hole deep enough to cover the root ball or just below that level. Do not plant too deep. If your tree is not balled and burlapped, try and identify how deep the tree was planted previously by looking for the water line, where the trunk is darker in color. Plant to that line or just below.
  3. Care – During its first season after being transplanted, water well, and, towards the end of each winter, use a slow-release complete fertilizer. If you are planting your Shantung Maple tree in a location that provides very full, direct and hot sunlight, consider wrapping the trunk for the first few years after planting. This will help protect the tree while it establishes itself in your garden.

Growing Shantung Maple from Seed

Start the seeds off at the start of the year by soaking in water for 24 hours, before germinating in wet peat pouches. (use no more than 3 seeds per pouch). Refrigerate for between 60 – 90 days, ensuring that the peat is kept moist.

Once this has been done, rinse the germinated seeds then plant them outdoors: you can do this as soon as all risk of frost has passed. The soil being planted into needs no special preparation, but any initial nutrient help, such as composting the area in advance, may be beneficial.

Plant the germinated seeds around 1″ under the soil surface, water liberally, and enjoy watching your small seeds grow. They do not require any special care once planted.

Further Growing Tips

Ensure the best possible results by following these tips:

  • It will tolerate being transplanted and moved if necessary.
  • Avoid planting near cars or windows – it may leave a sticky residue from its sap.
  • Shantung Maple leaves will fall quickly in Fall and make excellent compost.
  • Shantung Maple trees can attract aphids. If you see them, wash the leaves or spray with gentle soapy water or plant soap.

Shantung Maple Uses

Shantung Maple is ideal for giving pretty, dappled shade in gardens and along sidewalks and avenues. It can be used to add color and interest to shaded gardens, and places where growing more diverse plants is challenging. It is a pollinator, making it a good choice for attracting bees and is also enjoyed by wild birds.