|Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Crimson Queen'|
For magnificent color, delicate foliage, dramatic form, and adaptability, Japanese maples can’t be surpassed. One of the best adapted small trees to our area, they excel in specimen, accent, border, and mass plantings. They do well in containers and are also valued as bonsai. With proper drainage and aeration, they majestically frame water features. Their shallow root system makes them well suited for rock gardens. Michael Dirr says Japanese maples lend “an artistic and aristocratic touch” to the landscape.
Our slightly acid soil, so beneficial to azaleas, provides an excellent culture for Japanese maples. Michael Dirr reports that he has been “amazed at Japanese maple performance in zones 7 and 8.” Many perform well in less than perfect soil, but plant Japanese maples in good organic matter with excellent drainage. Over- fertilizing is detrimental. For the best coloration, plant red cultivars in dappled shade. Deep shade will reduce red coloration while too much sun will burn foliage. Green cultivars can take more sun. Morning sun with protection from harsh afternoon sun is preferable. Since Japanese maples have a shallow root system, mulch (1 to 11/2”) around the root zone to protect roots from weed & grass root competition. Mulching also provides protection from water loss in the summer & from root damage in the winter. Water requirements are moderate, but be sure to provide adequate water in drought periods.
There are thousands of Japanese maple cultivars. According to J. D. Vertrees, the majority of cultivars are from Acer palmatum. Other cultivars come from Acer japonicum. Still other Acer species are classified as ‘Maples from Japan.” The classification of Japanese maples can be, as Michael Dirr points out, “a taxonomic nightmare.” Two resources that I have used and recommend are:
Japanese Maples: The Complete Guide to Selection and Cultivation, Fourth Edition, J. D. Vertrees and Peter Gregory
Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Sixth Edition (revised), Michael Dirr
Below are three (of the many) Japanese maples that flourish in the Memphis area.
|Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku'|
Acer palmatum ‘Sango kaku’ : During winter, the coral bark of the ‘Sango kuki’ provides striking color accent. ‘Sango kuki’ means “coral tower.” The opposite simple bright green leaves have five or seven lobes. Leaves are up to 5 cm long & 6 cm. wide. In the spring leaves have a reddish margin that fades into light green by the summer. Fall foliage has bright yellow with apricot accents. Maximum height is 35 ft, with maximum width 20 ft.
|Acer japonicum f. Acontifolium 'Dancing Peacock'|
|Acer palmatum f. dissectum|