“Red Sunset” maple trees (Acer rubrum “Red Sunset”) and (Acer rubrum “Franksred”) appear perfect when pruned using a central leader, together with a single straight main division along with a balanced number of lateral branches on each side Grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, “Red Sunset” is named because of its dense canopy which includes bright red buds in spring along with also a splendid display of orange and red leaves in fall. “Red Sunset” trees grow 40 to 50 feet tall, which means you may have to prune the tree to maintain a smaller size if you have a limited growing space.
Prune “Red Sunset” maple trees in late winter before buds break or in early summer after the tree has flowered and is in full leaf exhibit.
Select one central leader and eliminate any other vertical main branches back to the point of origin on the trunk. Pick the straightest and most powerful division in the group of vertical branches.
Select strong branches for the scaffold branches, the main branches which stem from the central leader. Scaffold branches should have broad crotches, between 60- and also 90-degree angles together with the central leader, and be evenly positioned across the central leader. Make sure branches are available to sunlight, so that no upper branches shade from the lower branches.
Eliminate any scaffold branches you don’t wish to leave on the tree. Make a clean 45- to 60-degree angle cut at the point of origin on the trunk, cutting just beyond the branch collar, the ring of tissue where the branch meets the trunk, so the tree isn’t open to decay or disease.
Cut up to one-third of the entire branch length from each scaffold division, if desired. Make a downward-facing 45-degree angle cut just above a healthy bud to force branching just beneath the cut. This is known as a heading cut, and never needed, helps to encourage denser growth closer to the trunk. Also make this sort of cut to fill in any open spaces left as a consequence of removing injured branches. Don’t make these cuts on branches which are more than 1 year-old.
Stand back from the “Red Sunset” maple so that you can see the design of all branches; the tree canopy should be pyramidal to elliptical in shape, with the lower branches protruding further than the upper branches to permit for even sunlight supply to all branches. Look for regions of imbalance and branches which do not give rise to the powerful structure and tree form.
Cut dead, diseased or broken branches back to your nearest healthy bud or intersecting division. In addition to your yearly pruning instinct, eliminate these any time throughout the year as they occur.
Eliminate any lateral branches growing from the scaffold branches which have weak crotches with angles less than 45 levels, cutting them back to the point of origin with an intersecting division.
Cut out any rubbing branches, eliminating the division with a weaker crotch or that grows inward in favor of a division with a large crotch and outward growth direction.
Cut out any branches that grow inward toward the trunk in order to keep the canopy open to sunlight and air flow.
Eliminate any water suckers as they develop at the base of the tree or in branch crotches. These tiny branches tend to grow straight up and never become strong, therefore it is best to eliminate them so the tree doesn’t waste its energy growing them.
Thin out a few extra branches as needed if the canopy becomes too dense to start up all the branches to even sunlight supply and air flow. Choose the lowest branches or the ones that make the tree look unbalanced and cut those branches back to the point of origin on the scaffold branches.