November: Japanese Maple

Japanese maples are a varied and beautiful species with a variety for almost any landscape. They are beloved for their fascinating leaves, graceful forms, and feeling of refined delicacy. They also typically have excellent fall color in vibrant shades of yellow, gold, bronze, and scarlet.

Four different varieties of low-growing Japanese maples can be seen in this image.

Four different varieties of low-growing Japanese maples can be seen in this image.

There are four main dimensions we can use to categorize Japanese maples: size, habit, leaf type, and leaf color. Japanese maples can be maintained as tiny bonsai or grown to a medium sized tree depending on the variety and how you care for it. As far as habit, varieties can be upright, which means the branches mostly go out and/or up, or weeping, which means the branches reach back towards the ground. Leaves can be dissected (the lacy looking ones) or non-dissected (the non-lacy ones), and their summer color can be bright green or various shades of burgundy and reddish-green. There is an almost endless number of named varieties, and the collectors and enthusiasts rival hosta fans in their love for this species.

Common Name: Japanese Maple

Scientific Name: Acer palmatum

Light: full sun to partial shade

Size: 5-25’ tall and 5-30’ wide (mature size determined by variety)

Bloom Time and Color: small hanging clusters of red or reddish green flowers are somewhat showy

Notable Varieties: ‘Bloodgood’ (large variety with non-dissected leaves that are reddish-green in the summer and crimson in the fall), ‘Seiryu’ (medium sized variety with bright green dissected leaves and golden yellow fall color), ‘Waterfall’ (small to medium variety with bright green dissected leaves and a weeping branch habit), ‘Inaba-shidare’ (small variety with dissected leaves that are reddish green in the summer and crimson in the fall, weeping branch habit)

Soil: prefers rich, well-drained soil with consistent moisture

Other Notes: should be planted in somewhat sheltered locations in central Indiana to minimize winter dieback, great fall color, interested form, highly variable look depending on variety

See other plants of the month.

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