Plant of the Week: Japanese Maples

Accer palmatum, better known as Japanese Maples, are a large family of trees native to Japan and known for their elegant shapes and beautiful leaves. Each variety of Japanese Maple is unique and adds their own touch to gardens and landscapes.

Depending on variety, Japanese Maples can reach sizes between 2 and 30 feet tall, and can be upright or weeping. The smaller varieties do well in containers, while larger trees make for perfect specimen plantings.

Another key variation is leaf shape. While most people are familiar with the flat, star-shaped leaf (similar to red maples), Japanese Maples can also bear delicate, lacey leaves.

Finally, leaf color. Throughout most of the year, Japanese Maples have either dark red or green leaves. Once fall rolls around, you’ll be surprised at just how many different colors these leaves turn! Depending on variety, leaves can turn various shades of gold, orange, yellow, vibrant red and even purple!


Part shade. Morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal.

Moist, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic. Japanese maples do not enjoy overly wet soil so be sure to amend clay soils with Lobster Compost to increase drainage.

Prune in late winter while the tree is dormant.

Fertilize in spring and fall with an acidic fertilizer like HollyTone.

Some of Our Favorites


Bloodgood – An upright variety that reaches approximately 15 feet tall. It’s broad, burgundy leaves turn vibrant red in the fall.


Emperor – Another upright variety that averages around 15 feet tall. Emperor’s leaves are a darker burgundy (almost purple) and are thinner than the leaves of Bloodgood. It’s fall coloring is also red, but a darker shade than Bloodgood.

Emerald Lace

Emerald Lace – This lace-leaf variety has a cascading growth habit and bright green leaves. In fall those leaves put on a show by changing red, orange and yellow. Average size is 5 to 6 feet tall and wide, making it an excellent choice to smaller spaces.


Inaba – This weeping variety is known for growing much wider than it does tall, averaging 4 to 8 feet tall and and 8 to 15 feet wide! It’s another lace-leaf and it’s dark red leaves add drama to any landscape. In fall, these trees continue to wow with their vibrant red leaves.

Sango Kaku

Sango Kaku – More commonly known as Coral Bark Japanese Maples, these upright trees offer year round interest. Bright green leaves give way to golden yellow in the fall and are accented year-round by this trees red branches. Sango Kaku is a taller variety of Japanese Maple, averaging 20 to 25 feet tall.


Tamukeyama – Another mounding variety, Tamukeyama averages 6 to 10 feet tall and 10 to 12 feet wide. They are a lace-leaf variety and those leaves are dark red that goes bright in the fall.


Viridis – This lace-leaf variety is one of the smallest. Averaging only 4 to 5 feet tall and wide, it’s bright green leaves create a pleasant waterfall affect in the garden. In fall, those green leaves turn bright orange.