Summer update – Japanese maples

Despite a dry late spring, the garden’s Japanese maples are thriving. Red leafed maples have faded slightly in July’s heat, but these are shaded a bit so color does not fade as much as maples in more sun. Green and variegated leafed maples show little change from spring, though the Floating Cloud maple (Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’, below) in part sun has greened considerably while the variegation of a second in shade has faded to a lesser degree.


Japanese maples planted in spring, both new purchases and ones planted from containers that had grown on patios in recent years, are growing nicely. Already, there are plans to add a few maples in autumn, and where they’ll be planted will be worked out sometime before I grab the shovel. One gap along the border that parallels the forest has been avoided due to shallow maple roots, but I’ll probably extend the planting area out to include a few maples and another redbud, maybe two.

This ‘Oshio beni’ planted a year ago has faded slightly by early July, but added some yellow highlights.

A handful or more of the maples were planted at least thirty years ago, so when we see a Japanese maple in the garden center and wonder how it will look, well, here it is (below). While the long established Japanese maples take up considerable space, they are also an encouragement to add to the thirty-five or more already in the garden.

Below are several of the garden’s Japanese maples in early July. There are more, a few duplicates with one on the front and another out back, but a few others that don’t show their unique character in photos.

A ‘Viridis’ weeping Japanese maple spreads to about fifteen feet. The Lion’s Head maple (Aver palmatum ‘Shishigashira’) stands beside ‘Viridis’ but with a contrasting upright, vase-like form.
‘Gwen’s Rose Delight’ aka Shirazz fades from red with cream edges to a red-green in summer.
‘Burgundy Lace’
‘ Twombly’s Red Sentinel’ earlier in spring.
Golden Full Moon maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’)
Leaves of the Golden Full Moon maple fade from their spring brilliance, but with late afternoon shade the foliage color is still very yellow in early July.
Fernleaf Full Moon Japanese maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’
‘Crimson Queen’ maple
Butterfly maple

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Edward says:

    We have lost several large branches on a 10 year old red Lacey maple to borers. This began last year. We used systemic insecticide and sealed visible holes with pruning seal last spring.
    We had some damage this spring but not as much as last year.
    Is there anything else we should do to help the tree survive?
    Thanks Dave!
    Ed Barker

    1. Dave says:

      I’ve been fortunate to have had few problems with the maples. The fern leaf maple is in a slow decline, I think because it’s in a raised area that could be too dry. Unfortunately, once damage is apparent is often more extensive than what can be seen. The best that can be done is to watch and wait. Fertilizing is not recommended for ailing trees.

  2. The English Gardener says:

    Thank you Dave. So lovely to wake up on this beautiful Virginia morning to your gorgeous Japanese maple photos.
    Mine have done very well during the spring and summer. The Butterfly has been quite gorgeous. Apparently delaying my plan to cut it down after I removed a large center branch that had rotted last Spring.
    It pains me to have to destroy a Japanese maple. Fortunately I’ve had only 3 such experiences over the past 7 years.

    My front garden is quite full now, and your wife would be delighted as I have a broad expanse of back Lawn that will have to stay that way.

    1. Dave says:

      One of two Butterfly maples is heavily shaded, so it has lost several branches. It’s not likely to survive another twenty-five years.

      While my wife will never admit it, I think she doesn’t really mind our diminishing lawn.

  3. Valerie says:

    I LOVE your photos of maples. My Ukigumo is sprouting a bunch of leaves that are tinted red. I think it’s getting too much sun. It’s about 10 feet tall and the leaves are mostly green, with some variegation. I bought another, smaller one that I will plant in total shade to see how its leaves will differ from the first one. I have a small viridis that I bought after seeing photos of yours; I made sure to plant it in a spot where it has a lot of room to expand. I planted about 15 other, small Japanese maples, of all different variety, and I’m anxious to see how they grow.

    1. Dave says:

      I recently watched a video tour of a garden a bit larger than mine that claimed over a hundred maples, though many were still small. I’d love to have more, but I can’t give up my dogwoods and redbuds.

      I have minor issues with reversion on Butterfly maples, but not Ukigumo’. It is typically best to prune branches with off color leaves.

  4. Bonnie C. says:

    I’ve always admired Japanese maples, yet currently do not grow any. Yours are all lovely & look untouched by pests. Do deer bother yours at all, or do you have to spray them?

    1. Dave says:

      I don’t spray the maples, but have no problems with deer. I’ve seen some dark leafed Japanese maples with beetle problems, but we have almost no beetles.

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