Central Florida, being within U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone 9, is generally too warm for the species form of Japanese maple (Acer palmatum). However, a number of the cultivars of the Japanese maple grow successfully in central Florida.
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The hybrids suitable for central Florida include shrub forms such as Katsura, Red Select, Shishio Improved and Utsu-semi. Trees forms of the Japanese maple that are able to grow in this region are types such as Omurayama, Beni-kawa, Higasayama and Suminagashi.
The smaller shrub forms of Japanese maple such as Shishio Improved, grow 6 to 9 tall. Larger shrubs are in the 9 to 12-foot range and include Katsura and Utsu-semi. The tree cultivars able to thrive in central Florida are small in terms of trees, with most growing no taller than 15 to 20 feet.
The manageable sizes of the Japanese maple hybrids make them ideal plants for use in groves or as accent plants. Use Japanese maples in central Florida on your patio as a container plant or plant them in rock gardens.
Provide a Japanese maple with some shade from the hot afternoon sunshine in central Florida, advises the Missouri Botanical Garden. Keep the ground around this plant damp, or the new foliage may scorch in the summer sun.