Japanese Maples include some of the most beautiful of all the maple species. Their diversity in form, size, and color lends itself to many different uses in the landscape from specimen or accent trees to groupings for a border planting. The dwarf forms can even be planted in large containers if garden space is not available.
These exceptional maples have the most wonderful, artistic branching structure which adds interest to the landscape, especially in the winter.
The branches of the more upright forms tend to develop a layered look similar to the growth of flowering dogwoods. The weeping forms have a round, pendulous shape with graceful arching branches which can be lit from below to create a lovely effect at night in the winter garden.
Though some Japanese maples have deep green summer foliage, many cultivars have leaves in various shades of red or burgundy and some cultivars even have unusual variegated foliage.
Without a doubt, the most prized attribute of these beautiful trees is their outstanding fall foliage. Brilliant shades of crimson, orange, yellow, or purple light up the autumn landscape with blazing color. Spectacular!
Leaf shape varies within the species as well as leaf color. Two cultivar groups are recognized within the Japanese maple species.
The Dissectum Group includes the cultivars with finely cut, fern-like foliage. These cultivars tend to be lower growing and form graceful, shrub-like mounds.
The Atropurpureum Group includes cultivars that are more upright in growth habit with bronze-red-purple leaves that are not as finely divided.
Hundreds of different cultivars are available - it's so hard to choose! Be sure to talk to a reputable nurseryman to determine the best varieties for your area and landscape needs.
Japanese maples perform best when planted in the high shade of taller trees and protected from strong winds. Too much sunlight and exposure to high winds can cause leaf scorch but too little sun can cause the leaves to lose their beautiful reddish color and turn a muddy green. Plant in moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter and slightly acidic. Keep well watered especially until established.