Japanese maples have much to offer in the home landscape. They often have a layered, graceful form and corky wood for winter interest. In spring, the leaves may emerge purple or pink, followed by glossy green or red leaves in the summer. Fall foliage is usually red or purple. Japanese maples grow best in partial shade, especially in hot climates, but they tolerate full sun, depending on growing conditions and variety.
When choosing Japanese maples for full sun, select those that have green or red foliage, rather than variegated foliage. Choose palmatum varieties over dissectum varieties that tend to suffer more leaf scorch.
Select hardy, palmatum varieties known to tolerate adverse conditions for a sunny location. Shantung maple (A. truncatum) tolerates full sun and is one of the hardiest Japanese maples. It grows 25 to 30 feet high and has dark green leaves followed by red, purple and yellow fall foliage. Try Bloodgood, Fireglow or Sango kaku for full sun.
Japanese maples prefer partial shade, but may grow well in sun, depending on the site location. Sites with an eastern exposure, with morning sun are better than those with a south or southwestern exposure with hot afternoon sun. Japanese maples are hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 5. Trees planted in Northern gardens tolerate more full sun than those planted in the South.
In addition to varying sun requirements, Japanese maples need slightly acidic, rich soil that is kept slightly moist. Plant them near a building or other trees for protection from the wind. Water Japanese maples frequently the first year after planting and wrap the trunks with a tree wrap to prevent sunburn. Once the trees are established, remove the wraps and reduce watering.
- Texas Agrilife Extension; Japanese Maples for Glorious Fall Color; Keith Hansen
- Fine Gardening; Enchanting Japanese Maples; Francie Shroeder, et al.
- "The Garden Primer"; Barbara Damrosch; 2008
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