Step right up and choose your Japanese maple! Fall is definitely the BEST time to buy the future star of your garden. Of course, we all know fall is a great time to transplant trees and shrubs. However, there’s another very practical reason for buying your maple now…COLOR! Buying your Japanese maple now ensures you will have the perfect color for your autumn garden in the years to come.
Although there are many species of maples, the term “Japanese maple” refers to those trees named Acer japonicum or Acer palmatum. Yes, there are other maples with similar appearances, but they’re not Japanese maples. Japanese maples are the results of centuries of selective breeding in Japan and later, the USA and Europe. Their beauty was worth the wait.
Known as a “four-season plant,” the beauty of a Japanese maple glows throughout the year. The intricate and lacy leaves, changing three season colors, and sculptural growth shapes makes them popular as landscape and container specimens.
Fascinating in the winter, the overall foundation shape of the twigs and branches creates a line drawing in the garden. Some maples, such as the Coral Bark maples, have reddish twigs and barks, whose colors intensify in winter.
Spring begins the maple pageant. Depending on the variety, the leaves open with bright colors ranging from bright lime green or yellow gold to dark bronze, gently nudging the garden into life. Attractive flowers on some maples add to their spell.
The summer sun changes leaf colors, generally deepening or greening the spring tones. Upright growing varieties provide a strong vertical line to the garden. The weeping shapes contrast and introduce a rounded element. These are especially attractive hanging over a wall or rocks.
Then comes autumn, when the Japanese maple truly reigns over the garden. The cooling temperatures seemingly light a fire from within. No matter the shape, size or color, the Japanese maple becomes the stunning focal point. Choosing your maple during this season lets you know the beauty you will later enjoy.
Intensify the autumn colors by planting it in the perfect location. They will grow…and color…best in partial sun. A sunny eastern exposure with protection from hot, bright or reflected sun is best. A too-shady location will subdue the natural colors. As a rule, the green leaf varieties tolerate more sun and those with variegated leaves do best in increased shade.
Your maple will flourish in a slightly acidic well-draining soil with 3″ of mulch. Frequent and consistent deep watering, especially in the summer, will prevent leaf wilting or scorching.
Fertilizer also affects your tree’s colors. Nitrogen “greens” the trees, therefore, fertilize in the spring and early summer with a well-balanced fertilizer but stop in early July. This allows time for the plant’s carotenoids to develop autumn colors.
Because those fall colors are one of the main reasons to plant Japanese maples, now is a great time to visit us and chose the best colors for your garden.