Vine Maple


I live in Etobicoke, and bought a small shrub tree called “Vine Maple” (its current height is about 5 ft).

My questions are:

Will it do well in our hot summers, given that some summers we do not get a lot of rainfall… so would daily watering be sufficient?

And for our winters, should it be wrapped for its first and second winters?

Are there any aspects of this species we should be aware of to ensure it will survive?


Acer circinatum, commonly known as vine maple, is Native to the Pacific Coast region, south through western British Columbia to California.  It likes moist soil conditions, particularily along shaded stream edges and understory of coniferous forests. (More information on its habitat here.)  According to Micheal A. Dirr, “it appears to perform reasonably well in drier situations but will develop earlier fall coloration”.

Vine maple does best in partial shade to shade.  It requires an evenly moist well-drained soil for optimal growth, but will die in standing water.  It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils with some shelter from wind & harsh conditions.  If it is grown in full sun, make sure it gets a regular thorough watering.

The essence of managing trees and shrubs through the immediate post planting period and the establishment period, is to maintain appropriate water and fertilizing programs, and to prepare the plants for the winter weather.

Water: The most important thing you can do for your trees and shrubs after planting them is to water them regularly.  After planting, water everyday for the first week except on the days when it pours rain.  Gently pour two large buckets of water over the soil, or turn the hose on dribble and leave it under the tree for as long as it would take to fill two buckets with water.  A sprinkle with the hose for a couple of minutes does more damage than good because this does not provide enough water to penetrate deep into the soil.  Sprinkling water in this way will cause the roots to start to grow up towards the moist soil instead of down into the surrounding earth, so your tree will grow a shallow root system that will not provide either, enough nutrition & moisture or a stable anchor.

After the first two weeks, and depending on the weather, water deeply every two or three days for a couple of weeks, then twice a week for a couple of weeks, and then once a week until frost.  Newly planted trees must be watered regularly for the first two – three years.

To prevent evaporation, apply a loose mulch about 4-5 inches thick, but leave a space of about 6 – 12 inches between the mulch and the trunk of the tree.  Do not create a volcano of mulch as this will do more damage than good.

Fertilizer: Fertilizing a new tree after planting is not necessary, although if planted in spring this would not be harmful.  Never fertilize in late summer or the fall because this will promote new growth that would be susceptible to harsh winter weather & branch dieback.  You may, however, consider giving the tree a dose of ‘plant start’ to promote vigorous root growth at time of planting.

The following article is an excellent resource about Winter protection

You may interested by our Toronto Master Gardeners guide: Planting a tree and Growing trees and shrubs organically