The Magic of Maples

The Magic of Maples

Create a focal point in your outside space with Japanese maple.

Create a focal point in your outside space with Japanese maple. It’s the perfect choice of tree for any small, compact or courtyard garden, and the Horticultural Trades Association’s (HTA) ‘Plant of the Moment’ for April.

Japanese maples will put on a show throughout the year, starting as soon as foliage unfurls in spring and continuing until their autumn transformation into shades of gold and bronze before they eventually fall.


Many acers are commonly called Japanese maples, but their parents could be derived from several different species including Acer japonicum, Acer palmatum, Acer shirasawanum or others.

The natural shape and growing habit of their branches make Japanese maples an ideal choice of small tree for gardens or growing in large patio pots. Their leaf shapes, sizes and colours vary immensely. Many have a broad palm shape, but these are often divided and dissected into the most delicate and intricate forms. Add to this their wide range of colours, from deep greens to yellow, gold, purple or even variegated patterns and you have huge variety to choose from.

Top Maples for any garden


Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’

Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’

Acer palmatum ‘Sango-Kaku’


Golden Shirasawanum maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’)

Top tips for growing Japanese Maples

• Choose a sheltered site where trees are protected from late spring frosts, cold winds and scorching summer sun.


• Maples prefer well-drained soil containing plenty of compost to lock in moisture and ensure the ground never dries out.

• For growing in containers choose large and stable terracotta pots with several drainage holes in their base. Line pots with a sheet of plastic before filling with compost to reduce water loss through the sides.

Planting combinations

Japanese maples need space to flourish. Here are a few planting partners to consider:

• Azalea

• Ferns

• Flowering Cherries and Plums (Prunus varieties)

• Hydrangeas

• Wisteria

Photo – ©Adam Pasco Media

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About the Author

Steve Ott

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