Japanese maples are usually grown for their magnificent displays of autumn colour. However, in Australia they also look wonderful in spring, when they are covered in lush, new growth. There are hundreds of cultivars available, and they come in a huge range of leaf shapes, leaf colours, and varying growth forms.
Varieties shown in our segment:
Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum’
A Japanese maple with a dwarf growth habit, weeping branches and serrated, deeply cut leaves. They are grafted onto standard understocks to form dome-shaped shrubs. In spring the foliage is bright green, deepening in summer and then changing to yellow, orange and scarlet in autumn.
Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum Atropurpureum’
Similar to the plant above, but it has claret-red early foliage turning deep orange and crimson in autumn.
Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’
A small, upright tree growing to around 6m (20′) tall. The leaves are large, and deep red in colour. The bright red fruits (called samaras) are wing-shaped and hang in clusters on the tree. The foliage turns crimson in autumn.
Growing Japanese maples
Japanese maples grow well from Sydney to Perth and areas south, in the Mountain zones, and Tasmania.
They like well-drained soils rich in organic matter, and a thick layer of organic mulch to help retain soil moisture. They also need protection from hot sun and drying winds, and regular, deep watering, particularly during dry spells.
Japanese maples are widely available at nurseries and garden centres.
Acer palmatum and A. palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ – 300mm (12″) pot, $60-$80
A. palmatum ‘Dissectum’ and ‘Dissectum Atropurpureum’ – 300mm (12″) pot, around $150