A Tree for Every Garden!
Common Name: Japanese maple
Botanical Name: Acer palmatum
Form: upright, vase or rounded, weeping forms available
Plant Type: deciduous tree
Mature Size: 10-25 ft. (3.0 -7.6 m) depending on variety, cultivar
Origin: China, Korea, Japan
Hardiness Zone: 5 to 9
Foliage: simple, opposite, palmate up to 7 inches long, deep lobes, serrated margins varied shapes, colours due to diversity of species, brilliant fall colours
Flowers: not showy, reddish and yellow umbels in April
Fruit: seeds in pairs and bear wings, (samaras, keys) up to ¾ inches long, ripen in fall and are viable, therefore will germinate to create new plants
Exposure: sun to partial shade, dappled shade, sheltered location, prefers part shade in afternoon
Soil: moist, organically rich, slightly acid, well-drained, mulch beneficial
Uses: specimen, accent, foundation plant, woodland, bonsai, container, understory tree, mixed borders, small gardens and patios, Asian
Propagation: seeds, softwood cuttings in summer,
Pruning: minimal pruning in winter
Problems: hot, sunny sites damages foliage, fusarium, vertillium wilt, arid conditions promote spider mites, high pH induces chlorosis
Comments: Japanese maples are known for their grace, form and colour, which they bestow on any garden that is lucky to have one. Their shape varies from upright with a round crown, vase shaped with multiple stems, to gracefully weeping and short, round shrubs.
Plant breeders have a field day developing new and wonderful Japanese maples because it’s so easy to do. Their little winged seeds (samaras or keys), are viable and - variable. The many seeds that are produced are variations of both parents. Plant breeders, professional and otherwise, look for those with something special and different to offer in the way of plant shape and size as well as foliage shape, size and colour. Those grown from seed are so diverse that some they often lose their small stature and grow into substantial trees - you just never know what you're going to get.
To add to the many varieties developed from seeds, cultivars are also available. Cultivars are bred from growth that is delightfully different from all the other branches, such as an individual stem that has variegated foliage. Those unique stems are then grafted onto another Japanese maple, referred to as a rootstock. Dwarfing rootstocks, and ones that promote a weeping habit, add to the versatility and popularity of these handsome little trees.
Japanese maples perform well in moist, rich soils with a generous layer of mulch. Avoid placing them in hot, sunny exposed locations to prevent the leaves from turning brown and crispy. They appreciate partial shade in the afternoon during the heat of summer.
Coral Bark Maple, Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku', through the seasons.