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The Japanese Maple Guide

Japanese Maples are a popular ornamental tree species known for their striking foliage colors and unique shapes. These trees are native to Japan, Korea, and China and are a common feature in many Japanese gardens. They come in many different sizes and shapes, ranging from small shrubs to large trees, making them a versatile choice for any landscape.
Japanese maple care guide - Japanese maple leaves


Japanese maples are beautiful ornamental trees that are prized for their delicate foliage and striking colors. There are many different types of Japanese maples, each with its own unique characteristics and growing habits. Here are some of the most popular types of Japanese maples:

  1. Acer palmatum: This is the most commonly grown type of Japanese maple. It is a small tree or large shrub that typically grows to 10-25 feet tall, with a spread of 10-20 feet. The leaves are deeply lobed and come in a variety of colors, including green, red, orange, and purple. Some cultivars of Acer palmatum have weeping or cascading branches, while others have upright growth habits.
  2. Acer japonicum: This is another popular type of Japanese maple. It is a slow-growing tree that typically reaches 15-25 feet tall and wide. The leaves are similar to those of Acer palmatum, but they are usually larger and have fewer lobes. The fall color of Acer japonicum is particularly beautiful, with leaves turning shades of orange, red, and gold.
  3. Acer shirasawanum: This type of Japanese maple is also known as the full moon maple, because of its large, round leaves. It is a slow-growing tree that typically reaches 10-20 feet tall and wide. The leaves of Acer shirasawanum come in a range of colors, including green, yellow, and red.
  4. Acer sieboldianum: This is a relatively uncommon type of Japanese maple. It is a slow-growing tree that typically reaches 20-30 feet tall and wide. The leaves are similar to those of Acer japonicum, but they are usually smaller and have more deeply cut lobes. The fall color of Acer sieboldianum is particularly vibrant, with leaves turning shades of orange, red, and purple.

These are just a few of the many different types of Japanese maples. Each one has its own unique beauty and growing requirements, so be sure to choose the right one for your garden or landscape.

Crimson King Japanese Maple


The best time to plant Japanese maples is in the fall or early spring, when the soil is moist and temperatures are cool. Choose a spot that receives partial shade, as too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves. The soil should be well-draining and slightly acidic, with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Dig a hole that is two to three times wider than the root ball and slightly shallower than the depth of the root ball. Add a layer of compost or peat moss to the bottom of the hole and mix it with the existing soil. Place the tree in the hole and backfill with soil, gently tamping down to remove any air pockets. Water thoroughly to settle the soil.

Japanese Maple leaves


Japanese maples require moderate watering, about an inch of water per week, depending on rainfall. Mulch around the base of the tree to help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature. Prune dead or damaged branches in late winter or early spring, before new growth appears. If necessary, thin out the interior branches to improve air circulation and reduce the risk of disease. Fertilize with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring or late fall, being careful not to over-fertilize, as this can burn the roots.

Japanese maple fall foliage

How To Use

Japanese maples are versatile and can be used in a variety of ways in the landscape. Here are some recommendations based on their size and shape:

  1. Small Shrubs: These are ideal for use in small gardens or as underplantings in larger beds. They work well in containers and can be used to frame entryways or accent patios. Recommended varieties include 'Butterfly,' 'Garnet,' and 'Red Dragon.'
  2. Medium Trees: These are good choices for adding structure and height to a garden. They can be used as specimen trees or grouped together for a more dramatic effect. Recommended varieties include 'Bloodgood,' 'Emperor,' and 'Sango Kaku.'
  3. Large Trees: These make a bold statement in the landscape and are best used in larger gardens or as focal points in a yard. They can provide shade and privacy and are often used in Japanese garden design. Recommended varieties include 'Aconitifolium,' 'Osakazuki,' and 'Shishigashira.'


Japanese maples are a versatile and beautiful addition to any landscape. With proper planting and care, they can thrive in a variety of conditions and provide years of enjoyment. Whether you choose a small shrub or a large tree, there is a Japanese Maple variety that will suit your needs and enhance the beauty of your yard.

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