One of the most popular choices for your garden or landscape design is the Japanese Maple. Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) are small, deciduous trees grown for their graceful habit, fall color and beautiful foliage which may be coloured or deeply dissected. Many acers grow extremely slowly and are perfect in a smaller garden, grown in large containers. Japanese maples, Acer palmatum and Acer japonicum varieties, are an extremely diverse range of plants in terms of size, shape and leaf colour. The leaves may change in colour from spring to summer to autumn, but few other trees can match the magnificent autumn displays of the Japanese Maples. Where possible we have shown pictures of both the spring and autumn leaf colours.
Japanese Maples are surprisingly hardy, their biggest enemy is hot wind. They will tolerate sun, in fact most of the purple-leafed varieties will go green in the shade. Japanese maples will grow best in a sheltered position. Red and purple leaved cultivars need some sun to develop fully their dark hues. Variegated Japanese Maples need partial shade to prevent the afternoon sun from scorching the foliage. Green-leaved forms tolerate full sun, but are best in dappled shade as very bright conditions can sometimes cause scorch. Also, they will not tolerate wet, dry or very alkaline conditions.
Growing in containers
Japanese Maples are ideal plants for growing in containers. Plant in a loam-based compost, which allows good drainage and has a high percentage of organic matter. Keep the compost evenly moist, but not soaking wet and feed in spring and early summer with a slow-release fertiliser or liquid feed. Maples will need repotting into a slightly bigger container every couple of years and the best months to do this are April or September.
The roots of maples in pots are vulnerable to frost over winter, so wrap containers with a sheet of bubble wrap, held in place with garden twine.
Maple is best pruned when fully dormant (November to early February), as maples bleed sap from pruning cuts at other times, weakening the tree. Pruning is still best kept to a minimum as the most graceful shape comes from a tree that has been allowed to develop fairly naturally. As a result, just remove badly-placed or crossing shoots to encourage a good framework of branches to form. Where you do need to reduce height and width, follow long branches back to a side branch and pruning it out at this point.
Japanese maples come in many shapes, sizes, leaf colours and leaf shapes. One of the most beautiful are:
‘Shindeshojo’ is a well known maple for good reason. It is a reliable and rewarding tree which is bright red when the leaves first emerge. The colour fades to a blue-green for the summer before turning to scarlet in the autumn. Makes a layered shape and looks great in a pot.
‘Wilson’s Pink Dwarf’ is a fairly rare shrub-like Japanese Maple reaching an eventual height of around 2 metres. It has the most stunning bright pink leaves in spring, later turning other colours, oranges, pale yellows even white against a green background of older leaves. It’s size makes it suitable for many gardens including long term container cultivation. A very beautiful maple worthy of a place in any collection or garden.
‘Kagiri nishiki’ is a medium-sized maple with fabulous variegated cream, green and pink leaves. Quite vigourous eventually making a large shrub or small tree growing in a classic vase shape. Not often seen but should be more popular due to it’s robust habit and unusual colour palette.
‘Variegata’ is a very rare variegated maple with wonderfully dissect leaves. Slow growing eventually forming a low mushroom shape making it perfect for pot cultivation or as a specimen planted towards the front of a border. It’s leaf colour varies from cream, purple and green with oranges and red in the fall.
‘Bloodgood’ is a large bushy deciduous shrub with deep red-purple leaves with 5-7 slender-pointed lobes, turning red in autumn. Small purple flowers are followed by red fruits. One of the best purple-leaved Japanese Maples.
‘Seiryu’ will enhance your garden by bringing a vibrant uplifting feel to your garden.It will also looks wonderful in a pot , patio or mybe on your balcony,this plant produces compact branching bushes with fresh green lobed leaves coloured yellow and red at the growing tips. The autumn colour of this plant is a breathtaking golden yellow 100cm-125cm
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Hi I would like to purchase the most dwarf red/burgundy Maple that can tolerate the most sun. The sight is in front of my house (north) but still gets more that 6 hours. I am in zone 5. If you have one, I will buy it. Please help me choose. I know so little about them but love their look. Thank you