The maple ball (Acer platanoides ‘Globosum’) is one of many cultivars of the Norway maple (Acer platanoides) and originated in Belgium in 1873. Like all maples, it also belongs to the soap tree family (Sapindaceae).
The maple ball is a small tree that grows to a maximum height of six metres. Its characteristic spherical crown has a diameter of 5 to 6 metres, which becomes increasingly flat spherical and slow-growing as it ages. Every year, the maple ball grows about 15 centimeters in height and width.
The leaves of the maple become up to 20 centimeters wide. Particularly striking are the 5 to 7 lobes, which are arched toothed at the edge. As with all maples, the foliage is opposite. The leaves also carry milk juice. In contrast to the species, the leaves of the spherical maple have a vivid light green colour. In autumn, the leaves turn intensely golden yellow, often with a reddish tinge.
The flowering ball maples are of great beauty. Their terminal, upright umbel grapes are usually yellow-green and appear before the leaves shoot in April. In the middle of the flower there is a nectar secreting nectar ring.
The sphere-maple carries a two-winged, brown split-fruit, whose fruit-wings are arranged obtuse-angled until almost horizontally. The seeds can germinate easily, so you should not integrate the maple ball into a perennial planting, for example, from which it is difficult to remove the seedlings later.
The maple ball is very undemanding as far as its location is concerned. But he prefers it sunny to semi-shade. While as a young plant it tolerates shade quite well, it needs more and more light as it ages.
The maple ball also has few requirements when it comes to the back. Normal, permeable garden soil is sufficient for the tree to receive all the nutrients it needs. It tolerates a weakly acidic to alkaline substrate. However, boggy, peaty soils cause problems for the ball maple. In addition, the variety is somewhat sensitive to frost, especially at a young age.
The maple ball can be planted all year round. But make sure that there is no frost. A hole as large as possible should be planned for the planting, as the root requires a lot of space. Also bear in mind that the crown of the spherical maple can reach a diameter of up to six metres over the years – even if it is often still manageable when planted. Therefore, make sure that there is sufficient distance to the nearest building, for example. Loosen the surface well. This allows the roots to easily penetrate the soil and spread to the depths. The deeper the roots of the maple, the more robust and resistant your tree will be. Then insert your little tree. The soil used for filling should preferably be enriched with compost. The substrate must not be overfertilized, as the maple ball reacts sensitively to it. Finally, the young maple ball must be poured on vigorously. Do not forget to water the plant regularly in the coming weeks after planting.
The maple ball should be poured regularly at a young age. Later, it is enough to water it at greater intervals and plenty of water for it. With a continuous water supply, the roots remain flat. If the soil dries out easily in between, this stimulates the tree to form its roots in the depth. He’ll be able to take care of himself someday.
The maple ball does not need to be cut regularly. However, if the typical round crown becomes too big for you, you can bring the tree back into shape. Nevertheless it is advisable to thinn out the tree from time to time and to remove the old wood. Pruning should be carried out by the end of January at the latest if the tree has no leaves. Otherwise the maple ball will bleed, because the juice flow has already started again. Radical pruning should only take place in the event of pest infestation.
In our latitudes, the maple ball is in principle completely hardy. Only with a combination of very strong sub-zero temperatures and sunshine do frost cracks sometimes form. Therefore you should shade the tree on such days. If the maple ball is kept in a tub, it will definitely need additional protection, as it is more susceptible to frost in a plant container than outdoors. It is best to place the pot on wooden strips or polystyrene and pack the plant container with fleece or coconut mats. Only with young plants and extremely severe cold spells is it useful to overwinter the tub plant in winter quarters. And don’t forget: The plant needs water from time to time on frost-free days to prevent dry damage.
Because of its undemanding nature, the maple ball is a popular street tree for cities and is also often used as a source of shade in car parks. But not only in public green areas, but also in driveways or as a house tree its spherical crown comes into its own. Even without cutting measures, the spherical maple is a good form element and a decorative interior decorator to set geometrical accents in formally designed gardens. Occasionally you can also see the maple in containers or tubs. For birds the dense crown offers a nesting place, which is gladly used and thus offers protection for native bird species. This is how the maple ball brings life to its surroundings. For humans, the maple ball is an ideal source of shade, under whose crown a beautiful, protected seat can be created in the garden.
A reproduction of the ball maple is hardly possible for laymen, because it is a refined form of the maple. This means that the tree cannot be propagated using conventional methods such as cuttings or seeds. The spherical shape is only achieved by a head refinement. This explains why the trees are relatively expensive even as young plants.
Diseases and pests
The maple ball is hardly susceptible to pests and diseases at a suitable location and with proper care. Care errors, on the other hand, can weaken it to such an extent that its susceptibility is significantly increased. Then, for example, an infestation with powdery mildew can occur. You can recognize the disease by a white coating on the foliage. Remove the infested leaves to prevent a new infestation in the coming year. A proven household remedy against mildew is a mixture of baking powder and water or milk and water. Immediately after cutting, the susceptibility to red pustular disease also increases. You can prevent this disease by cutting as exact a cut as possible. If the Verticillium wilt infects the maple, the root will be infected from the ground and the water conduits will be blocked. This leads to the death of leaves and shoots. The infestation cannot be combated directly. They must remove affected shoots and, if necessary, cut down the tree. That’s good to know: If the size of your maple does not increase after some time, the cause may be a lack of water or nutrients or even a disease. In this case, it is worth cutting back radically.
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I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.