Please see my new “Sap App” specifically developed for choosing a Japanese Maple that will be perfect for you. This article and the “Sap App” should start you on the road to intelligently choosing the perfect Japanese Maple.
Just click on this link and use my app whenever you want to add a new JM to your collection.
This article is a work in progress .I am posting it in sort of diary form ( unfinished and ongoing) since I feel it is a process of learning and answers to many questions change over time with ones experience as well as that of many of you and my peers in the business, This article may never be complete as I find more and more things out though my daily experiences with these trees in this area and expand into other geographical areas through my internet contacts. The actual scientific study of Japanese Maples is very limited and most info, even allot you’ll find here, is gleaned from “experts” that are self, or industry/colleague appointed who have written books based on their experiences. Many of these folks are long time growers, innovators, collectors who have discovered and named many of the trees found on this site . This is all well and good but allot of the info is “area subjective” and non scientific learning begot from their own experiences. This information should be helpful to a lot of folks ( especially newbies) in their adventure of choosing their own special Japanese Maple . But always use of any info on JMs should be taken with a grain of salt .. There are so many variables with where each of you live and each individual tree that blanket statements should be parced … including mine .We are just not dealing with items that you can mix up in your “Mr Science” kit and they will be exactly as advertised or as the ingrediens listed on the box .. They are living growing things that are effected by their surroundings and each one is different in many, many respects .
My first experiences in choosing Japanese maples
( DON’T MAKE MY MISTAKES )
When I first started collecting Japanese maples it was difficult . I found a few dealers on Ebay that had web sites and tracked their web addresses down ( which isn’t easy since Ebay does not want you to buy direct ) but I did not want to buy off of Ebay because it was a gamble, only small plants available…and NO guarantee of getting a good price or a good tree after a lot of hassle. Most were twigs and some were not what they claimed to be… you sometimes got what you paid for but often not even that. There was also not many sites on Google that looked both reasonable and reliable. Most of those dealers I contacted were so bad at email ( and still are) i never heard back or did so months later. Some were just plain rude and some were very customer unfriendly. My basic mantra was getting quantity of cultivars , since I was enamored with them , and getting them cheap.
At that time I wanted all red trees in particular those that kept their red well, were hardy to this area, and had authentic Japanese names. I was also interested in upright non dissectum type trees that were more like what I was used to in this area. Being a big planting and gardening freak with over 2 acres of land I thought containers were an bit silly for me with all that space and also seemed unnatural. I therefore wanted only those I could “plant out”. This made choosing even more difficult and required personal attention from sellers which many ( even those I did make contact with ) didn’t have interest in giving me… personal help in choosing cultivars!!. My first trees were almost entirely as stated above.Many being duplicatede and mostly just snatch and grab so to speal. After several years of severe addition I finally opened my eyes and mind and discovered the wide diverse multitude of fantastic cultivars , many of which were newer , with non Japanese names, and had all sorts of leaf types and colors. Others very rare and not easily available from anywhere. Some others were touchier ones I would have never ever considered, that I learned could be successfully container grown grown in this area . I found that container growing was actually as enjoyable as actually planting the tree out. I enjoyed the challenge , hand mixing of soil , and placement possibilities I didn’t have with planting out the tree.
This journey took me on a trip of losing many of my JMs. Ebay and other internet purchased trees bought on the cheap from unreliable folks and learning how to minimize my losses by buying larger JMs from quality dealers . It also taught me that quality and being a bit more selective was allot more important than quantity and cheapness. It also taught me NOT what to do when I became an internet seller since 99% of my internet experiences were average to hideous. I still always think of myself as a buyer first and seller second once ya go the other way, as most you will find already are, you have entered the world of slockdum. I pledge to you to never go over to the “dark side”.
Now that I have become more critical I now have a hard time choosing my favorite type , color or specific cultivar and it can change daily .If you are just starting out, hopefully the info found herein can help you, and you won’t flounder through for several years like me. My hope is that you will use this knowledge of the fantastic and ever changing world of Japanese maples, found both here and elsewhere on my web site, and not waist both time and more importantly money and so you too can have have a spectacular hobby/pass time that will be a life long enjoyable pursuit like I have.
My most important words of advise is “don’t limit yourself “. Free yourself from any predisposed ideas and be open minded when choosing . If you don’t have allot of $$ buy one larger special tree that you can enjoy right away, not several cheapo ordinary ones that take years to see without a microscope. I feel these trees are really for a special type of folks: those with creative minds that understand art and beauty up close and personal and love to grow things ,and who are not anal or persnickety about having everything perfect. Others, to be blunt, will be most likely be happpier with buying a common JM from Lowes or in the case of a persnickety person , a plastic one from Ebay. But if you a true Japanese maple person open minded and artistic , and not constrictive with compulsive obsessive personality traits, be prepared for a whole new “life” hobby and experience unlike any other you have been involved in.
Davidsans first (really first) piece of advice
I would first advise reading Davidsans “Care and Cultivation” section for a good overview . Many of the issues addressed in that section directly deal with decisions you must make on criteria for deciding on what Japanese maple you want. That section alone may answer most of your questions and provide a basis for choosing a specific cultivar. then after reading that and this go directly to the sap app and play around with it.
Your decision can be as easy or as hard as you make it . For most folks it will just be choosing color. If you ask 100 folks wanting a Japanese maple, 95 will want a red one. Period . It is important to realize that size and hardiness are also very important . In addition you can choose from the multitude of leaf shapes and branching types. As I said “we can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way”. Once you have read that section go and to my sap”choosing” app and give it a whirl… you should be a semi expert at least on paper and have it much a easier time in narrowing your choices down.
General statement of JM uses and placements
Remember around here as well as most places even in the south Japanese Maples are not considered shade trees rather ornamental trees . At least for most, they will not offer shade for many many years … and obviously some will never nor are they suppose to. They can be considered specimen trees but even if you buy a larger directly from Davidsans, it is unlikely it will be such for many years. I have found it really takes several years for both large and smaller Japanese maples to take off with any substantial growth. In addition as a specimen tree, placement is usually in open spaces for dramatic statement purposes ( although that is not written in stone). This of course is not an ideal place to put many Japanese maple, being exposed to severe sun and heat in summer and little protection in winter It is my opinion their best usage is for placement among groupings of other plants, bushes,flowers and trees in more of a garden setting and best with some understudy protection. The following is some helpful hints for choosing your Japanese Maple . Always remember I (Davidsan) am just a quick email away and I am more than happy to help you whether you buy from me or not. Your questions as well as your input is always welcome. What you should look for in any Japanese Maple no matter what type
What you should be looking for in a tree after you decide the cultivars you like is one that is nice sized .. this doesn’t necessarily mean just tall or even tall at all . It means full with good form , branching and a nice caliper trunk for it’s pot size .. Trunk shape is often not important . Some folks demand a straight trunk but these are showy ornamental trees not not shade trees so a bit of a crook or bend is often just a cool personality trait … The same goes for lower branching .. if you want a more upright tree just trim them off as it grows like any other trees… but having a bushy upright can be a cool thing too. Many Jms are not single leader and V up from the trunk … this is of no real problem and contrary to many know it alls… these trees rarely if ever split like some larger shade trees. Finding a singler leader high tunked Jm is virtually impossible …
Choosing color can be very important since you tree will not be full for a while . and whatever is in back of it may dominate it .. A red JM against a bred brick house is a good example .. so be careful you pick one the either highlights itself or is highlighted with what is in back of it
If you are just looking for a red Japanese Maple you should be advised that most if not all will not stay red all season. Your best, and often only red color, will be spring and fall, whereas in mid summer they will at minimum look dull or bronze out or green out. Many Japanese maples fit into this category . Also be advised shades of reds will vary from year to year and by your location within the mainland. Your best bet is to find the ones that have the most prolonged red during the growing season and the type of red you want . For most folks the type of red is simple , the brightest red they can find. Some others may have more subtle tastes want a nice deep red color , an orange red color , purple red or a multicolored tree that is predominantly red. In looking through Davidsans listing of trees and using the sap app you will find all of these variations. the “Sap App” can get you lists
Not to be repetitious but this area has the most variables and no clear answer . I probably wouldn’t worry so much about size being to big if you are from this area, Japanese maples tend to grow slowly here and rarely reach heights stated by west or east coast dealers. But even here, if you plan on planting close to a building or driveway or some such, the best advise for that option is DON’T.If you live in maple friendly areas you can always easily trim just about any Jm to keep it smaller .. but using the sap app will allow you to at least be a little more size aware.
I do see a valid and often critical area of questioning when it comes to garden planting where you want to add a bit of color , style or just something different as a part of your garden theme and you want to do so without over or under whelming the area. Your best bet in those situations is to use dwarf trees , being fully aware the word “dwarf’ is variable and sometimes a bit of a stretch depending on where you live. Also be advised that many dwarfs have are known as “Witches Brooms” that is actually a branch with odd leaves ( shape /color or both) growing on a mother tree that is unlike any others on the tree. That branch is used as scion to graft onto a base acer palmatum rootstock and developed as a new tree. These these “Witches Brooms” are identified by having a truncated lobe, basically a shorter middle lobe of many if not all leafs . Although there is no real scientific knowledge , that I am aware of , these “witches broom” dwarfs do tend to be a bit more tender according to most growers with experience with these trees . If you live in a colder area it is best to keep these containerized, or at least sheltered. Although I personally have never had a problem with any of these myself and this may be another one of those non scientific folk tales.
You can look through the dwarf section of the Davidsans web site you can also find many more truly superior dwarfs for planting out in all climates climates or potting.
Type Of Branching
Branching types are of somewhat importance for the garden a setting . A lot of what you pick is dependent on the space you have . The dwarf section is of course for smaller gardens . Many folks fit into this “average back yard configuration . Some of you though like myself have much more space and larger gardens or planting areas. Your choices are Disssectums that can get tall but more often wide, regular uprights , and more weeping uprights.
Weeping upright cultivars usually don’t show much weeping for many years but eventually will do so . You should take that into consideration when making your decision . This is especially true in tight planting areas with other plants wanting a lot of sun. But there are some newer very nice both red and green cultivars that are weeping but conical and grow taller but stay tight .. these are a true delight for those with less open spaces
Dissectums also called lace leaf and cut leaf Jms are a funny bunch . There are a rare few upright types , basically only the Sieryu (and some other wannabes that don’t quite measure up as far as I am concerned but are “more” upright and have a more open branching structure). Most Dissectums will get much bigger than you expect and even the smaller ones will spread out . So planting them is tricky if you are thinking of using them to just fill in between some other plants. They also tend to be thicker around here even more so than many upright at least when they are new to their planted environment . Some will be better for closer placement than others because of their “more upright” stance , and their less thick leafing with and more open branch structure. Staking younger dissectums is usually best so you don’t get a low rangy tree. and of course Dissectums can also be easily trimmed . High grafted Dissectums IMHO are horrible .. Lazy growers do so because they would otherwize havre to stake and they get a bigger tree faster .. some are even grafted at three feet with 6″ of actual cultivar ion top … HIDEOUS . 99.0% of all Davidsan cultivars are low grafted under * ” a few a bit higher and some lower. DO NOT buy high grafted dissectums especially red ones . Other than their odd look most are grafted on green acer palmatum root stock so you see a red and green trunk .. In a recent trip to the St. Louis Botanical gardens rich with older Jms . I saw with such horror badly high grafted trees that looked perverted … The bad grafts stuck out like like a bad wig(rug)
The hardiest type of Palmatum is by far the linaerilobums ( bamboo type leaves) in my experience. Why this is so is hard to figure but I have found this basically true with most if not all green and red Linearilobums cultivars .. This may differ for others But I have yet to lose one to any winter.. they seem to take wetness , cold wind very well . Sun hardiness does vary greatly with these bamboo type leaves with some untouched but others crispy by mid summer.
Sun hardiness may have more to do with humidity and possibly wetness of soil, rather than sun . I hear time and time again how folks fervently boasting how… “my ____ (insert name of any JM ) never burns in full sun” . I am not going to draw any conclusions on this whether these folks are legally blind , on drugs in and out of mental institutions or just not very observant .. But I will take them at their word they just may have a different environment. I myself have had several 15 year old bloodgoods in afternoon shade crisp up badly between mid July and mid Augustin a hor summer . Generally speaking sun burn gets better with age, but I have found very few cultivars that don’t burn , no matter what the age… So I think other factors IE: humidity, type of soil, or amount of water in soil may be the culprit.
Ones thing to always remember, Japanese Maples , like all trees are a natural living plant … they will never be perfect and all have quirks . That’s what makes them so cool . Many folks have a hard time with this because under perfect conditions ( usually spring ) they are stunning. .. but not always and not all season . My favorite statement to those annoyingly anal folks is simple . If you want a perfect tree go on ebay and buy a plastic one. Go the “pink flamingo” route. And I hope you find a way to enjoy our exceedingly imperfect world , Japanese maples included …
“Perfection is often sought and seldom achieved”… words to remember and a good fortune cookie saying:>)…. Just a bit of Davidsanian advise for those that are guaranteed to be unhappy or frustrated if they ever buy a Japanese maple.
Did You Ever Wonder?????
**************** Informative New Article! ***************
“EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BUYING A JAPANESE MAPLE TREE”
(This article updates and adds to the “choosing a Japanese Maple” found in pull-down at top of the home page. You can check that out too.)
FIRST THINGS FIRST: We try to take the problems out of purchasing on the Internet
The ideal way to acquire a JM is to buy it locally so you pick out your own tree. This might be impossible for you or will at least greatly limit your choices, so you must look at the internet as a way to purchase your tree. Here are some tips and observations:
1. Comparing apples to apples on the internet is very hard. There are just as many unscrupulous folks on the net selling Jms as there are selling other items. For most sellers it’s a business to make money. Very few folks are there out of love of their product. I discourage anyone from buying Japanese maple trees on Ebay or Amazon. Those sellers seem to be the least interested in their product. AT DAVIDSAN’S we love our trees and want you to get the very best.
2. Another big problem is that many internet tree sellers don’t offer larger trees because of shipping difficulties. These small, young trees will have underdeveloped root systems and are more likely to succumb from summer heat and winter cold. Buying small trees is a crap shoot and can be a “kiss of death” for the tree, especially for beginners and novice growers. At Davidsan’s, unlike most e-tailers, we ship up to and including ten gallon sizes! Some 15 gals are also shippable. With stiff-limbed dissectums the shipping cut off size is usually 7 gal. (We have been told that we have a very “creative” packing technique.)
3. The other big problem is that most of the Japanese Maple Nurseries and Ebay sellers are on the west coast. This means that your order can take over a week to be delivered and can involve crossing the Rockies where winter weather can go into late May. And then the summer temps east of the Rockies can be very hot for that week long trip. Excessive hot or cold temps can severely damage trees during shipment. (Some sell bare root in winter which is even more of a crap shoot. I would never buy bare root Jms.)
AT DAVIDSAN’S our shipments take just one, two or up to three days almost anywhere in the lower 48! Also we keep our eye on the weather – not just here, but also where the trees are going – to make sure they will arrive to you safely.
Did You Ever Wonder?????
ARE ALL JAPANESE MAPLES GRAFTED?
All true Japanese maple cultivars are grafted. If you see a non-grafted Jm it is a seed-grown mongrel and not a true cultivar. The maple seed is not true to the mother tree. The father tree can be anywhere near by and cannot be 100% determined. These trees may or may not look like the mother tree and can take up to 4 years to develop their permanent characteristics. It is unethical to sell a seed grown tree as a named cultivar. Along with grafting, there are a couple of other ways to propagate Jms to get true cultivars: air layering or cloning. Neither of these propagation techniques has a good success rate and they don’t work on many cultivars so they are not used commercially and air layering is very costly. Grafting is still the best, least expensive and most common way to make sure your Jm is a true cultivar. Keep in mind some JMs are VERY hard to graft thus are pricier. AT DAVIDSAN’S we sell only named grafted trees.
WHAT SIZE IS THE POT?
There are so many different sizes!!!! Classifying by size is very difficult. Some sell by age. Some sell by pot size or height. AT DAVIDSAN’S we use many factors in sizing and pricing our trees but have found pot size to be the best way to communicate the tree’s value. We determine pot size by taking into consideration the root ball size, caliper, fullness and sometimes height to give you the most for your money.
At most places, pot size can be misleading. Some sellers transplant from band pots (That’s the size pot the Jms are in when first grafted) to one gallon pots sooner than they should. Before their first season these young trees don’t have the root size necessary to be in that size pot. We think that a tree should have 2 full growing seasons to be placed in a 1 gal pot. AT DAVIDAN’S we do not sell band pots of newly grafted trees. Unscrupulous sellers move these up to one gal and sell them as such. The same goes for larger trees when sold in a pot that is larger than needed. Even more confusing is that the actual cubic inch size varies from “grower’s pots” to “standard pots”. A “grower’s” three gal pot is about the same as a “standard” two gallon pot. Most sellers use the smaller “growers” pots since they are less expensive and take up less room. “Grower’s” pots hold about a third less soil than standard pots of the same name. Even the handful of premier U.S. growers use “grower’s” 1 gal pots that are actually 3 quarts not 4 quarts, but they have the best quality of Jms with tree size and quality superior to other folks’ 1 gallon standard size pots.
AT DAVIDSAN’S many factors are taken into consideration before we determine the “pot size” regardless of which type of pot is used. We include root ball size and and viability, caliper of trunk , type and fullness of branching, the height and overall look of each tree to determine its value. Davidsan’s sells superior trees. Period.
HOW OLD ARE THE TREES?
The age of a JM can be exaggerated by sellers. If a tree was grafted in the fall it can be classified as a two year old graft as early as the next spring, so a “3 year old graft” may only have two actual growing seasons. At Davidsan’s we use a “seasons-old” classification. A “two season” tree has had two full season of growth. We are integrating this classification into our web site.
HOW TALL ARE THE TREES?
The height of a tree is the most requested, least important and most deceptive means to determine the quality of a JM. A grower who is into making a lot of money quickly might make a high graft, with the graft being 12”, 24” and even 36” above soil line. This tree is deceptively tall and appears to be more mature than it really is. High grafted Jm’s often are 90% root stock and 10% actual cultivar you are buying. It doesn’t take a mathalete to know this is a rip off. Many call these “patio trees” and most are weeping dissectums. We do carry some weeping Ryusen grafted on pine bark root stock which makes much more sense since the pine bark offers a really nice second look for the tree with it’s rough bark appearance and the grafts are very nice. The Ryusen weeps straight down, so it either needs a tall trunk or a tall pedestal to show it off! With most all high grafted dissectums the trunk color is different below and above the graft and does not match. Many have bad grafts that look like a big tumor and will only look good with a “Cousin It” type tree form covering that up. If you want to show tree structure by trimming you are out of luck.
AT DAVIDSAN’S If you really do want a tall trunk dissectum, we have a few grafted at 12 inches. That’s much less than big box ones at 24”- 36”. Just because we don’t care for them doesn’t mean someone might have a place for them. As said, we much prefer low grafts on all our trees and 99% of ours are low grafts. We always notify the buyer if they choose one of the few dissectums we have that are high grafted.
Another way to force a young tree’s growth is to beef it up with fertilizer. In that case, you get a very tall but thin tree with a small root system. This tree will take a long time to look like a nice Jm. Also with the small root system come the hazards of winter cold and summer heat affecting the tree’s survival.
AT DAVIDSAN’S We allow the tree grow at its own rate, without much extra fertilizer. This results in a strong trunk, well branched appearance, and a well developed root system.
CAN YOU SEND ME SOME PHOTOS?
A lot of folks would like a picture to help them buy a tree. Of course, that can give you some idea of what you will get as long as it is not a stock jpeg as some send, but a picture of the actual tree. Even then the camera angle can mislead the appearance of the fullness of the tree, the caliper, etc. We sell so many trees that taking a picture of each one for our customers would be impossible. If we took photo after photo to find the “perfect” tree for you, we would be spending all our waking hours taking jpegs. With a larger tree we often do send a jpeg because there is a larger investment on your part and we want you to be confidant that you get the tree you need. Before we send a picture we also make sure that the price is good for you and you are truly interested in purchasing from us. We cannot take pictures for those just a-fishin’. We can only take jpegs of trees 5 gallons or larger, We ask that you trust us to send the best tree that we have on smaller less expensive cultivars. We will not ship any cultivar we feel is not first class.
DO YOU PRUNE YOUR TREES?
At Davidsan’s we do very little pruning on our trees. Since many folks like lower branches and bushier trees, we leave trimming up to the customer. They can be trimmed up to whatever form you want. However we do stake our smaller trees for stabilization and to help them keep their form.
CAN A JAPANESE MAPLE BE A SHADE TREE?
A Japanese maple is NOT a street or shade tree. Japanese maples are ornamental trees. Many want no low branches, a perfect straight single trunk . Often, Jms either have lower branches, shorter trunks, or even multiple trunks. Most do not have perfectly straight trunks. With some cultivars, such as low grafted dissectums and some dwarfs, wavy trunks are actually preferred because they add character and individuality to the JM. IT also gives them a really cool look! If you have an anal personality JMs are NOT for you. Instead you should buy a Sugar Maple or Red Maple or Red Oak or another common street tree. Davidsdan’s does not carry common street trees but we do carry rare and uncommon street trees like Franklinia, Tupelo, various rare and strange Oaks, Ginkgo, Beech, Yellowwood and many more. These special trees can be planted to set you apart from the suburban masses who seem to have the same trees that are planted in every yard by ho hum landscapers and builders or folks without an imagination. But if you want a street /shade tree, Jms will not be for you!
HOW BIG AND HOW FAST WILL MY JM GROW?
Most web sellers copy West Coast sizes and growth rates. These sizes are a 10 year growth estimate in ideal growing conditions of the west coast. Some also use J.D. Vertrees book as their bible not realizing he was from and had his nursery in Oregon Vis A Vis west coast sizes again. At Davidsan’s we use Midwest and mid to northern areas ( zone 5 and zone 6) as our 10 year growth size and never put yearly growth inches but we will say “fast growing” or “slow growing.” Unless you live in a very maple friendly area our figures will be more accurate. If you see West coast size estimates, you should take about a third or more off! This becomes VERY important if you are older or don’t plan on staying in your house for 20 years. You may be on oxygen or moved away before you can enjoy your tree. For those folks, we recommend that they buy a larger tree to start off with. Remember Jms take a year or two or more to grow out their root systems and then they will take off with variable amounts of yearly growth.
SHOULD I BUY A SMALL TREE SO I CAN WATCH IT GROW?
We hear people say over and over again they “want to watch their tree grow.” That usually means they don’t have the money to spend or are just bargain hunters. We do understand many people have a hard time making ends meet and for many, buying trees is frivolous. That’s fine but watching the JM grow while actually enjoying your tree generally requires a bigger, older, more developed tree. We suggest save your money and buy the size of tree or trees you can enjoy from the get go. This is even more important in non Jm friendly places since it will take forever to enjoy. “Seeing it grow and actually enjoying it while it grows” makes a lot of sense to us. We usually suggest a 5 gal tree minimum for those who are older or want to have an immediate impact. If you are really on a budget our 3 gal size is nice, but there is usually a big difference in maturity compared to a 5 gal. To get a great looking JM of size, fullness and branching and caliper it costs very little more to get 5 gallon or larger JM that is more enjoyable. Again for those on a budget or those that want a Jm badly but can’t afford it, save your money and buy a larger tree at a later date.
IS IT TOO COLD TO GROW A JM IN THE NORTHERN U.S.?
For people living in the far north, zone 3 and 4, you are not in a great Jm growing area, unless you are by water or similar micro-climate. Even our super hardy Psuedosieboldianum will have a hard time. It has great fall color but its growth pattern stinks. I have lost them down here in really bad winters. You should consider container growing. Then you can grow any Jm! These have to be brought in during the winter to an insulated unheated or lightly heated garage or out-building and will need repotting every few years but container growing gives you the whole spectrum of JM cultivars to choose from. Folks in zone 5 and 6 who have limited space should also consider planting in a container as an alternative.
IS IT TOO HOT TO GROW A JM IN THE SOUTHERN U.S.?
There are some Jms specifically developed for the sun and heat of the south and many others do well there as well. The trick, just as with northern trees, is where you plant them and all the basic specifications of the tree (root ball size, caliper, branching, fullness etc.) so that it can withstand the southern conditions in summer. Planting any JM in full sun in the south is not recommended. Davidsan’s can help you find a Jm that can take southern temps better in difficult planting areas.
EXACTLY WHERE SHOULD I PLANT MY TREE?
Or: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!!
In addition to your state’s north/south location, where you actually plant your tree in your own yard is of the utmost importance to consider. Siting your Jm can be confusing and requires a lot of decisions. Poor and uneducated siting of your JM, along with not following the above buying information can make your Jm look shabby, or worse. The ideal siting is either morning sunshine and afternoon shade or all day filtered sun. This is not always possible. Most Jms will do okay in a lot of shade but they might not color well and have slower growth rates. A few seem to keep their color better than others in shade. The type of shade is also important. Full shade under any non-deciduous conifer is the deepest shade. Shade under deciduous trees can be a good place to grow Jms, as there generally have smaller, less dense leaves in spring and smaller leaves in fall (or maybe none!) so your Jm will have better color during those times. Full sun can be pretty hard on most Jms. There are a few developed for south that are more tolerant to full sun. After it matures, a Jms will fare better in full sun. As the tree ages it is less sensitive to heat in summer and winter damage. Excessive wind can be damaging to Jms. Receiving a lot of summer and winter wind is drying to the tree, can cause leaf damage in summer and die back or bark damage in winter. AT DAVIDSAN’S we can guide you to the JM that will work in your location. Just let us know where you want to plant your tree!
ARE ALL JM’S RED? OR “ I WANT A RED TREE”
OK WE HEAR YA!! We know most of you want a red JM. Most folks don’t realize there are so many more choices and that most collectors and expert growers search out a wide variety of colors. Reds do look boffo and no doubt it’s the first thing many people think when you say Japanese Maple. The problem is most “reds” are not red all summer (they tend to go green/bronze in the heat), they may get leaf burn in prolonged direct sunlight, but they need some direct sunshine to become their reddest. And don’t worry about “light” or “dark” red as that can change year to year depending on weather conditions; frosts, soil composition, humidity, amount of shade…. Don’t forget that the trees near your red JM will get bigger and give more shade each year. More shade means a darker red. Asking for red really limits your choices. Try using my Sap App and choose the “red” option for just the fall or just the spring color. See below for link. A tree that has a mix of fall colors can be the most interesting: that tree might start out red in the spring, be green all summer and then in the fall, it becomes yellow, then orange and then red. These stages result in an ever-changing rainbow of gorgeous, saturated fall color!
I hope this not-so-brief article helps you and doesn’t confuse you too much. Just be an informed buyer. It helps to have a pretty good idea what you want before you contact us, but be flexible about it because there are so many variables with Japanese Maples. Use Davidsan’s “sap app” to help you:
Try to visit us if you are within driving distance. We love visitors!!! Before you come, make a list of trees you like, where you want to plant, shade, soil, drainage, etc. Jms are a special and variable investment, not the same as your other daily purchases.
AT DAVIDSAN’S you will not get screwed or taken advantage of no matter how little gardening skill or experience you have had. We would rather lose a sale than mislead you. We want you to become an ongoing customer and buy other, different Jms that will quickly distinguish you from the masses. We are in it for the long run, not a quick buck. Please feel free to contact us for your special Japanese maple(s) needs.