With names like these, you know that both “October Glory” and “Autumn Blaze” trees have beautiful fall color. The red maple, “October Glory” (Acer rubrum “October Glory”), is one of the parent plants of the hybrid “Autumn Blaze” (Acer x freemanii “Jeffersred”), so they are very similar. “Autumn Blaze” gets additional characteristics from its other parent, the silver maple (Acer saccharinum).
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“Autumn Blaze” has the cold-hardy silver maple as one of its parents, so it is more cold-tolerant than “October Glory.” From its red maple parent, it gets strong wood and a strong branch structure, so it resists storm and snow damage. While “October Glory” is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9 and also stands up to bad weather, “Autumn Blaze” is hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8.
Both of these colorful maples are fast growers. “Autumn Blaze” reaches 40 to 55 feet tall with a dense, broad oval crown. Its branches grow with wider crotch angles than the silver maple, which makes it a good choice for places with ice or snow. “October Glory” reaches 40 to 60 feet tall with a rounded to oval crown. It grows slower than “Autumn Blaze.”
Leaves, Flowers and Seeds
“October Glory” has glossy, dark green leaves with red stems. They have three to five lobes and reach 3 to 6 inches across. They stay green into fall, then color in late fall to brilliant shades of red and orange. The red flowers appear in early spring before the leaves, and the seed capsules are red, too. “Autumn Blaze” has medium-green, five-lobed leaves that emerge in spring with a red tint. Its fall color is red-orange to deep scarlet and it produces few flowers and seed capsules.
Both trees thrive in moist or wet acidic soil that drains well. They are moderately drought tolerant after getting established, but they need regular watering to look their best. Plant “Autumn Blaze” or “October Glory” in full sun to part shade. They make good street trees, shade trees or rain garden trees. As these maples mature, large roots often form on the ground surface, making mowing difficult, so don’t plant them in a lawn.