The perfect Japanese maple for the perfect location
Japanese maples can truly electrify your landscape,
garden or patio with glowing fall colors that range from fire engine red to
nearly glow-in-the dark yellow.
They not only add dramatic autumn color to our typical green palette of
lawns, trees and shrubs, many varieties provide gorgeous spring, summer and
winter displays as well.
With hundreds of cultivars to choose from, there truly is a Japanese maple
for almost any location in the Bay Area. But it's still important to get the
right tree for your conditions, and to take proper care of it.
A common cause of failure in growing maples is poor drainage, says Sara Monte
of Wildwood Farm in Kenwood. Consistent, even watering also is key, says Sachi
Umehara of Momiji Nursery in Santa Rosa. It is important to provide adequate
moisture across the entire drip line of the tree, not just in a couple of
As with most plants, adding compost when planting and applying an annual
layer of mulch around the drip line of the tree will not only help get them off
to a good start, but will help retain moisture as well.
And if you are planting trees in containers, it is a good idea to wrap the
pots in the winter to help retain heat. Trees planted in pots require more
Japanese maples are not heavy feeders and will not need regular fertilizing
after being established. However, trees grown in containers will benefit from
one or two mild applications in the spring once the risk of frost has passed.
It's also best to establish young trees in partial shade before moving them
to a sunnier location.
Now is a great time to select and plant your trees. Not only will you be able
to see the various maples in their fall splendor, but the tree will have time to
set roots before the first wave of heat in the spring. Most Japanese maples do
best when planted in morning sun and partial or dappled afternoon shade.
However, contrary to popular belief, many cultivars can be grown in full
Here are some varieties to consider, depending on your conditions and
year and spectacular orange fall foliage. Upright, compact growth to about 15
turn crimson in the fall. Upright growth to 20 feet at maturity.
in the fall. Upright growth to around 15 feet.
turn fire engine red in the fall. Upright growth to about 20 feet.
during spring and summer. The leaves intensify at the end of summer and into
fall. Grows to about 12 to 15 feet tall.
spring and then become dynamic gold and crimson in the fall. Can be grown as
large shrub or small tree, matures at around 5 feet tall.
leaves tipped in red. The fall foliage is yellow and orange. Mounding, cascading
growth to 13 feet.
grown as a large moundlike shrub or small tree with beautiful golden fall color.
Grows to 10 feet tall by 10 feet wide.
Good for containers
emerge in spring and become overlaid with golden orange in the summer. It offers
vibrant orange and red fall color that lasts longer than most. Matures at about
10 feet tall.
thick, dissected green leaves in the spring and summer that look like peacocks
dancing on the limbs. In the fall, it has vivid red, orange, yellow and purple
colors. Hardy growth to about 14 feet tall.
foliage that turns to neon orange in the fall. Grows to around 20 feet tall and
10 feet wide but can be trained to desired size. Works well over a wall or to
cover an arbor or archway.
dwarf, columnar variety that grows to approximately 5 feet tall.
Rebecca Jepsen is a Santa Clara County Master Gardener.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bay Area nurseries carry many varieties of Japanese maples,
but to widely expand your choices and meet the experts, visit local
Maples for All Seasons, Pleasanton, email@example.com
Nursery, 2765 Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa. 707-528-2917
Wildwood Farm, 10300
Sonoma Highway, Kenwood. 707-833-1161
About Master Gardeners
The Santa Clara County Master Gardener Program is a
University of California Cooperative Extension volunteer organization dedicated
to providing research-based gardening information to home gardeners. Have a
question for Rebecca Jepsen or the other Master Gardeners? Call the University
of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener hotline in San Jose,
408-282-3105 from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Visit the Master
Gardeners website at www.mastergardeners.org.