GardenersHQ

How to Grow Acer negundo Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Box Elder

Acer negundo is commonly known as the Box Elder. This common name comes from its use in making boxes and crates.

Other names it goes by include Box Elder Maple, Ash-leaved Maple, Ashleaf Maple, Red River Maple, Fresno De Guajuco.

It is classified as a tree in the Sapindaceae (Maple) family, and is native to Central and North America

Box elder

Boxelder (Acer negundo) photograph by Andrey Zharkikh.


It is considered a fast-growing, medium-sized, deciduous tree. It averages 30 to 50 feet (9 to 15 m) in height and has an average spread similar to that of its height.

Acer negundo

Acer negundo by BotanischerVerein Sachsen-Anhalt, CC.

Although it is a maple and produces the familiar maple fruits, it differs from most maples through having odd-pinnate compound leaves.

There are both male and female Acer negundo plants. The male trees do not produce flowers.

Acer negundo 'Variegata'

Acer negundo 'Variegata' by Babij, CC.

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Box Elder

Acer negundo requires full sun to grow and does best in USDA Zones 2 to 10.

It is a low maintenance tree that has an insignificant flowers that are greenish-yellow.

The tree leaves turn yellow in the fall.

It is recommended as a shade tree and is ideal for faraway difficult corners of the landscape garden, where other ornamental trees will not grow, or in colder northern climates.

Unfortunately, Acer negundo has a short life and can be easily broken in storms.

Be aware that this tree is a host for Box Elder bugs, which do not harm the tree but can be a significant nuisance if the tree is located close to a home.

It is also susceptible to Anthracnose, powdery mildew and canker disease problems.

On the plus side, the Box Elder Maple tree can tolerate drought, clay soil, air pollution and being in proximity of black walnut trees.

Acer negundo Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific Name: Acer negundo
  • Common Name: Box elder
  • Growing Zone: USA: 5 to 8
  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Tree

Plant Details

  • Plant Height (Inches): 300 to 600
  • Plant Spread (Inches): 240 to 360
  • Time of Bloom: Spring
  • Flower Details: Yellow
  • Leaf Foliage: Green
  • Fruit:
  • Growth Form: Rounded

Ideal Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: Partially shady to full sunlight
  • Rate of Growth: Quick
  • Suitable Soil Types: Acidic, Alkaline, Clay, Loamy, Neutral, Sandy, Slightly alkaline, Well drained
  • Soil Moisture: Wet

Caring Conditions

  • Care:
  • Level of Maintenance: Low
  • Propagation: Seed or grafting
  • How to Prune: Requires little to no pruning. In some cases hard pruning can be disruptive.
  • Pests: Aphids and horse chestnut scale are sometimes a problem
  • Diseases: Usually disease free but Verticillium wiltcan be problematic

Further Information

  • Can Attract:
  • Tolerant of: Drought, Clay Soil, Air Pollution
  • Best Garden Use: In the control of erosion, Pollard, Woodland garden
  • Genus Detail: Acer
  • Further Reading and References: Here and Here
  • Family: Sapindaceae
  • Closely Related Family members: Sycamore brilliantissimum, Red maple, and Silver maple; Horse chestnut; and Balloon Vine
  • Miscellaneous: Attractive foliage, North American native, Naturalizing, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Acer negundo. You may also enjoy the following growing guides: How to grow Acer griseum and Acer palmatum Atropurpureum.



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