Over 300 cultivars of the Japanese Maple range from miniatures to small trees to shrubs. They have a great variety of leaf shape, size, and coloration. Because they are cultivars nearly all need to be grafted to preserve their characteristics so they are quite expensive.
This deciduous tree, originally from China, Japan, and Korea, has delicate looking leaves some having jagged edges that are green, bronze, or red in summer and yellow, orange, red or scarlet in the fall.
Japanese Maple grow best in partial full sun or shade and in rich, most soil covered with a layer of mulch. They are more tolerant of Southern warm weather than most maples, but it is a good idea to shade them from the midday sun.
Some cultivars grow up to 25 feet tall and are tree-like while others grow to 35 feet wide and are more shrub like. They are used for accent pieces in large lawns, in small gardens, containers, and bonsai.
The trees all grow slowly so if you are landscaping buy the biggest one you can afford. They thrive in the shade of a taller tree like a birch or pine. Plant for the delicate leaves and buy the color you want to display in the summer and in the fall. In the winter the sculpture of the branches and the bark stand out.
Prune only to remove weak or damaged or crossing limbs.
Zones 6 - 10 although a few cultivars are hardy in zone 5.