Maple trees have long been known to have some of the finest displays of fall colour. While common in Ontario and Québec, very few maples are native to zone 3 areas like ours in Steinbach. However, we can still enjoy fall maples here in Manitoba! Thanks to the hard work of commercial breeders, there are a few maple cultivars that can transport that beautiful autumn colour into your backyard. Here are our favourite hardy fall maples for Manitoba landscapes.
‘Silver Cloud’ Silver Maple
This maple variety is a fair bit different from the more traditional sugar maple, however, its lobed foliage does have that classic patriotic shape. The leaves are a deep green with silvery undersides, and the bark is a lovely silver colour as well. Primarily grown as a shade tree, Silver Cloud grows to a stately 50’ height with a 40’ spread.
Silver Cloud isn’t typical of most fall maples. While this maple does change colours in the fall, the leaves reach a buttery yellow shade rather than deepening to the reds and golds characteristics of other maples. All the same, Silver Cloud has plenty of ornamental value! Instead of red fall foliage, this maple bears very attractive clusters of red flowers in spring before the leaves emerge.
While sometimes sold as a zone 4 tree, there’s a consensus among many zone 3 nurseries (ourselves included) that Autumn Blaze does very well in our cooler climate. This maple is similar in size and canopy to the Ontario red maples we so admire, with an average height of 40-60’ tall.
When it comes to fall colour, the name really says it all. Autumn Blaze’s fall palette of fiery red-orange is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Earlier in the season, the tree is still highly ornamental with medium-green leaves with silvery undersides and attractive red twigs.
If it’s fall colour and compact size you’re after, you can’t go wrong with Amur maples. These compact maple trees fit nicely into small spaces of the yard, reaching only 20’ tall with an 18’ spread. The foliage of the Amur maple has a more slender profile than the broad, lobed leaves of the more traditional fall maples, but the colours are just as punchy. In late summer, the bright green foliage is joined by bright-red samaras that add extra colour to the landscape.
Once summer fades into fall, the real show begins. Amur’s foliage matures into breathtaking shades of orange, scarlet, and deep currant red. There are a few forms of Amur maple that indicate their growth habit, but each are low-maintenance trees for high-impact fall interest. You just don’t see many trees this vibrant during the fall in Steinbach!
‘Hot Wings’ Maple
This small but attractive tree has a unique look compared to most maples. In spring, white flowers emerge before the serrated oval leaves settle in. In the summer, the namesake ruby-red samaras appear in abundant clusters. As fall maples go, the colours of Hot Wings has an unusual but captivating beauty. The inner leaves mature to golden yellow while the leaves on the outer branches turn blazing shades of red and orange. The effect gives the tree the appearance of being engulfed in flames!
Hot Wings offers big colour without the big footprint—it’s a dwarf cultivar that reaches 15-18’ in height and spread. Its rounded habit makes it a neat accent tree that requires very little pruning.
Prairie Rouge® Red Maple
For those who can’t get enough red, the Prairie Rouge® maple delivers. Like Silver Cloud, Prairie Rouge® produces red flower clusters in spring ahead of the foliage. However, its leaves emerge red instead of green, maturing to green only for the late spring and summer. As the leaves turn green, the red colour is transferred to its bright red samaras. Finally, when fall arrives, the leaves take on a spectacular true red colour that must be seen to be believed.
It could be said that this fall maple combines the most desirable features of the Amur and Silver Cloud maples. The leaf shape and early spring display more resemble the Silver Cloud, whereas the samaras and fall colour are closer to what you’d see on the Amur. The height lands somewhere in the middle, reaching 30’ tall with a 15’ spread.
While they certainly aren’t as common around here, it is possible to enjoy the beauty of fall maples here in Manitoba. We recommend planting your maple in September to help it prepare for the winter. This will allow some extra time for the roots to establish, whereas other trees can be planted right up until the frost. To purchase a fall maple, or discover other shrubs and trees with remarkable fall interest, visit us today at our garden centre.