If you are trying to work out which type of maple tree to grow in Washington State, you have come to the right place.
Washington State has an incredibly diverse geography and climate. It stretches from the gentle Coast Range along the pacific coast, to the coniferous rainforest of the Olympic Mountains. From the Puget Sound Lowlands, over the snow-covered Cascade Mountains to the high steppes of the Columbia Plateau in the east.
It has some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes on earth, however, this can make it challenging to know which trees will do well in which location.
We take a look at six different maples that will grow best in Washington’s hardiness zones.
6 Best Maple Trees to Plant in Washington State
The big leaf maple is a native to WA and grows to a colossal 100 ft tall and half as wide. It is very easy when planting a tree not to allow for the size of the tree in maturity, and never more so with the big leaf maple.
This is a magnificent tree, but not for the small yard. It will not only be a large tree when mature, it is also fast-growing when young, and will soon dominate the space where it is planted.
As its name suggests the leaves of this tree are very large. In fact they have been known to span 12 inches (30cm), which creates an awe-inspiring display come fall.
The pale yellow flowers are scented and hang in clusters in the spring. These transform over the summer into the classic maple double-winged seeds known as samaras in the fall.
The big-leaf maple prefers moist ground and grows prolifically along river banks and streams.
Other Common Names: Oregon Maple, Broad Leaf Maple, Big Leaf Maple
Growing Zones: 5-9
Average Size at Maturity: Height: 100 ft (30m) Width: 50 ft (15m)
2. Coral Bark Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’)
The coral bark maple is a real beauty, and although it is recognized as growing in zones 5-8, in a sheltered position, it is tolerant of quite cold temperatures as is drought tolerant. In fact, the incredible red color of the bark deepens the colder the winter gets, making it a beautiful ornamental tree even in the dead of winter.
This tree will give you pleasure throughout the year as its leaves turn from the palest green in the spring to beautiful pinks and yellows in the fall, offset against the astounding red of its bark.
The coral bark maple is a medium-sized tree that likes well-drained soil in a sheltered position. It can tolerate partial shade, especially if it gives the tree relief from intense afternoon sunlight.
Other Common Names: Sango-kaku Maple, Coral Bark Maple
Growing Zones: 5-8
Average Size at Maturity: Height: 20-25 ft (6-7.5m) Width: 15-20 ft (4.5-6m)
The autumn blaze is a hybrid of the red maple and the silver maple and is hardy to a chilly growing zone 3 making it an excellent choice for all but the warmest areas in WA.
It is a fast-growing tree that will become medium to large, so make sure you give it plenty of space as it will soon overshadow surrounding plants.
As its name suggests, this maple will reward you with a fantastic display of deep red foliage as the autumn unfolds. To get the best fall display plant this tree in full sun.
Plant your autumn blaze maple well away from buildings or patios as it will grow extensive surface roots and produce suckers, which will need removing in the late winter or early spring.
The autumn blaze will grow well in most soil types, and will tolerate partial shade and cold weather. This makes it a great all-round low-maintenance tree.
Other Common Names: Acer freeman, Freemans maple
Growing Zones: 3-8
Average Size at Maturity: Height 40-45 ft (12-13.5m), Width 30-40 ft (9-12m)
4. Fernleaf Full Moon Maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’)
This small ornamental maple would make a stunning centerpiece for a medium-sized or small yard. It can also be grown in a large pot on a patio or sunny porch.
The exquisite fernlike leaves transform throughout the summer to a dark red or even purple come fall. Both the flowers, and small clusters of seeds, have a dark red hue which contrasts beautifully with the pale green leaves of spring and summer.
This lovely little tree prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. It prefers slightly acidic, well-drained soil that is rich in hummus.
Other Common Names: Full Moon Maple, Fern Leaf Maple, Maiku Jaku
Growing Zones: 5-7
Average Size at Maturity: Height: 8-10 ft (2.5-3m), Width: 8-10 ft (2.5-3m)
Available at: Nature Hills
5. Tatarian Maple (Acer tataricum ‘Garann’)
The Tatarian maple is a native to Europe and Asia, it is so named after the Tatars, who traditionally lived in the region of Northern and Central Asia.
It is a good frost-hardy maple that will grow happily throughout most of WA. It will be a medium-sized tree when fully grown so it will need at least a medium-sized yard.
During the summer the tatarian maple is renowned for its clusters of dark red winged samaras, that hang pendulously from its branches and offset the dark green foliage beautifully.
Like all maples as the chlorophyll, which gives the leaves their green color, dies off come fall, they turn a beautiful bright red.
Tartarian Maple is a very versatile and hardy tree and grows well in most soil types, with a preference for slightly acidic soil. It prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial shade.
Other Common Names: Hot Wings, Amur Maple
Growing Zones: 3-8
Average Size at Maturity: Height: 15-18 ft (4.5-5.5m), Width: 10-13 ft (3-4m)
The silver maple is a fast-growing, large native tree, sometimes growing to 80-100 ft tall so it can dominate the landscape. It gets its name from the soft silvery underside of its leaves, which turn yellow and then red in the fall.
Being a native tree it is well acclimatized to the varying conditions within WA, preferring the edges of rivers or streams.
This fast-growing tree can be prone to ice damage, and care should be taken not to plant it close to buildings, or where branches could fall and cause damage or injury.
It is tolerant of most soil types and conditions, preferring full sun, well-drained soil, and plenty of water.
Other Common Names: Silver Maple, Northern Sugar Maple
Growing Zones: 3-9
Average Size at Maturity: Height: 50-70 ft (15-21m), Width: 30-50 ft (9-15m)
Whatever size yard you have, from a small patio to acres of wilderness, any type of maple tree will bring majestic beauty into your life. Their fall colors are awe-inspiring, and their palmated leaves bring a soft texture to any landscape.
With a myriad of varieties to choose from, it shouldn’t be a problem finding the right one for your Washington State yard.
Always remember to allow enough room for the mature tree, and give a thought to how it will affect the plants around it.
But mainly, come fall, remember to sit back and enjoy its vibrant display of color.
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Fern discovered her love of gardening later in life but has not wasted any time catching up on missed years. She has contributed to the planting and care of over 100 different fruit, nut, native and ornamental trees over the past 5 years on her property.
Fern has a special interest in biodynamic farming, food production and closed loop agriculture.
When not in the garden or exercising her dogs, you will find her preserving the harvest or with her nose buried in a novel.