Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Red Maple, Scarlet Maple
Acer rubrum 'Red Sunset'

Family: Sapindaceae (sap-in-DAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Acer (AY-ser) (Info)
Species: rubrum (ROO-brum) (Info)
Cultivar: Red Sunset
Additional cultivar information: (aka Franksred, Sunset Red)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

One member has or wants this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
By air layering

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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By Joolz
Thumbnail #1 of Acer rubrum by Joolz

By Sherlock221
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There are a total of 14 photos.
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3 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Feb 26, 2015, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

This is the most commonly planted Red Maple cultivar for the last few decades in the northern USA. It's mother plant originally came from NY, PA, or NJ, as I was told by a nursery in Oregon, the major place where shade tree cultivars are produced by grafting of the buds and grown as saplings before sent on to other nurseries. I planted one in my front yard in 2002. My specimen I should have pruned when it was young to avoid it now having a forked trunk. My only criticism is that this and 'October glory' make up the majority of the species planted all across the northern US and that limits genetic diversity, which means less adaptability to any future problems that could come along. I would suggest producing many more local cultivars for each area and some planting of the straight species.

Neutral anamg On Jul 21, 2012, anamg from San Jose, CA wrote:

So we purchased this maple as a 15-gal tree 10 years ago. We live in No California (San Jose) and it is hot in the summers and not very rainy so it is on a drip system for watering. It maybe is 12 feet tall and I am wondering if it is growing very slow. It drops beautifully in the Fall. Also how do I prune it -- we never have. The leaves are full on each limb but some limbs are too low on the truck and not filling it the tree as a whole. Thanks for any help provided.

Positive Marilynbeth On Nov 4, 2007, Marilynbeth from Hebron, KY wrote:

We've been at this house for a little over 10 years and my neighbor has 3 'Red Sunset' Maples in her yard. They were already planted before we built our house and the trees have gotten more beautiful over the years! I really like the fact that the one closest to us makes a great shade tree in the Summer! She and her DH live behind/next to us and she's a good neighbor and says that it's ok to take photos of her trees. 'Red Sunset' is gorgeous in the Fall with its beautiful colors!

Fall of 07, the colors started to turn early, then went all green (the colored leaves had already dropped). We've had an unusually long, very dry and very hot Summer that included parts of Spring and Fall.

Neutral berrygirl On Mar 16, 2007, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Acer rubrum 'Red Sunset' (R) RED SUNSET RED MAPLE Dec (z4) (Cut)
A highly-rated and reliable red maple, this vigorous tree to 45'has a strong branching pattern & foliage which is lustrous green in summer & brilliant shades of red in fall. Sun/Med-damp

Positive Sherlock221 On Jan 13, 2007, Sherlock221 from Lancaster, KY wrote:

This is a lovely tree. We lined our driveway with them when we built our house 10 years ago. We bought very large trees, with trunks of about 3 inch diameter. When you plant trees that large, they start off slower in growth. Now, after 10 years, these are quite large trees and really lovely. The Red Sunset Maple has much smaller leaves than sugar maples or some other kinds. They are a rich green in summer and very dense, giving dense shade. They tend to start out looking awkward as youngsters, and then obtain a very round shape with maturity. Be patient with regard to the shape. They have a lovely rather smooth silvery bark. In fall they are a gorgeous true scarlet red; however we find that the leaves don't stay on the trees all that long as compared to sugar maples. The first strong wind or rain brings them down quickly -- and they are among the first to color. We have also been told that they are not the longest lived of maples. We, in fact, lost two of them after 8 years due to a double whammy of fireblight (unusual in maples, but happened that year) and then a massive caterpillar attack. Knowing what we know now, we would not line the driveway with them if we could do it over. We would probably use sweetgums instead. However, I do still recommend the tree as a lovely landscape addition. Just be sure to water them regularly in their first few years -- if you don't get an inch of rain for over a week, water them deeply with some type of slow-trickle method. We use spackle buckets with a small hole punched in the bottom. They stress from lack of water and will get a wilted look. A beautiful tree with the best red color, but perhaps not as hardy as some other cultivars.
ADDENDUM 2011: These trees apparently do not hold up well to heavy ice. We had a devastating ice storm here two years ago that did heavy damage to all our "Red Sunset" Maples. Some split completely down the entire tree into the trunk and were a total loss. Many had the tops broken out, large branches snapped off or badly bent. They were basically all ruined after 15 years of taking special care of them -- we are heartbroken!


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mountain View Acres, California
Champaign, Illinois
Hinsdale, Illinois
Clermont, Kentucky
Georgetown, Kentucky
Hebron, Kentucky
Lancaster, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Nicholasville, Kentucky
Versailles, Kentucky
Brunswick, Missouri
Ozark, Missouri
Metuchen, New Jersey
Perry, Ohio
Bend, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Downingtown, Pennsylvania

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