When considering adding trees to a garden, it’s always worth looking for something which will really earn its place by providing more than one season of interest – and with their beautiful foliage, fantastic Autumn colour and interesting bark, Japanese maples make a great choice.
Whether they’re creating a focal point, brightening a shady corner or to be used as a fabulous potted specimen, these trees offer great natural shape and character and they’re easy to grow and look after too!
Here’s our guide to all things Japanese maple…
Many acers are commonly called Japanese maples, but the term itself mainly incorporates the species Acer palmatum, Acer japonicum, and Acer shirasawanum – and in total there are more than 1,000 different cultivars.
Some of the varieties are extremely slow-growing, with trees remaining a manageable size without the need for regular pruning. This, in conjunction with their natural shape and growing habit, make them an ideal choice of small garden tree, or an excellent specimen for a large patio pot.
There are wide variations in their leaf shapes and sizes, but many have a broad palm shape which is often divided and dissected (the dissectum varieties) into the most delicate and beautiful forms.
Add to this the great range of leaf colours available – from deep greens and yellows, to gold, purple and even variegated patterns – and you’ll understand why you’re spoiled for choice!
The foliage show starts with the new leaves unfurling in Spring and continues until right through till Autumn, when the leaves turn wonderful shades of red, gold or bronze until they eventually fall. And if you’ve chosen a variety with interesting bark – such as Acer griseum, the paperbark maple – then you’ll have a continuous display of attractive peeling, papery chestnut-brown bark all year round.
Top Garden Choices
There are lots of Japanese maples to choose from, but the varieties which offer outstanding garden performance will have received an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
Of these our favourites are Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’, Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’, Acer palmatum ‘Sango-Kaku’ and Acer griseum.
Japanese maples are easy to grow and look after, and here are our top tips:
- Choose a sheltered site which offers protection from late Spring frosts, cold winds and scorching Summer sun to get the best foliage show and colour.
- Maples prefer moist, well-drained soil, so dig in plenty of compost at planting time to lock in moisture and ensure the surrounding ground doesn’t dry out.
- Mulch deeply with leaf mold, compost or bark regularly to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture.
- If you choose to grow a Japanese maple in a terracotta pot, then be sure to choose a large pot to offer stability. Line the sides with plastic before planting to reduce moisture loss through the pot sides and ensure there are holes in the base for good drainage.
- As trees can remain in pots for several years, choose a loam-based compost with extra grit for added drainage. Top dress your pots annually to refresh the nutrients available, and remember that established trees will need re-potting into larger pots every few years.
- As with all potted specimens, keep the compost level a few inches below the pot rim to make watering easy, and cover the soil with a mulch of pebbles or ornamental gravel to suppress weed grow and retain moisture.
- Water regularly with collected rainwater – and in hot, dry periods stand pots in saucers of water to provide a reservoir.
- Roots are susceptible to frost damage in Winter, so either move your pots to a more sheltered site, or wrap with protective insulation.
We have a great range of Japanese maples for you to choose from in-store NOW – so pop in and see us, and sprinkle a little maple magic in your garden!