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There are hundreds of varieties of Japanese maples. They have been bred and grafted in Japan for hundreds of years. The trees are valued for their smooth bark, attractive foliage color, and interesting leaf shapes. When planting your Japanese maple, choose a site with sun. Red-leaf cultivars will have green leaves if placed in a shaded location.
Some Maple Varieties
Also known as dissectum, laceleaf varieties have long, feathery leaves that give them a lacy appearance. Laceleaf maples generally stay small, rarely growing above 5 feet, and develop a mounded, weeping shape. Cultivars of laceleaf maples are typically dark red in color, although some cultivars have brighter red and green coloration. Because the tree remains small, it is suitable for smaller gardens and growing under power lines.
Threadleaf Japanese maples are the only variety that has not been found in the wild, suggesting that they developed from cultivated sources or from rare plants that are now extinct. Threadleaf maples differ from laceleafs in that the leaves are not serrated. The threadleaf maple stays small, growing well in small gardens or containers. Because of its resemblance to bamboo, it makes an attractive addition to an Oriental-themed garden.
Dwarf trees generally do not exceed 6 feet in height, while semi-dwarf trees range from 7 to 15 feet, and there may be a degree of variation among the heights of dwarf Japanese maple cultivars. Dwarf Japanese maple trees develop the classic lobed maple leaf shape, so even though laceleaf and threadleaf maples may be smaller, they are not considered part of the dwarf variety. Because of their small stature, dwarf Japanese maples are very popular for bonsai gardens. Because of the high demand, slower growing rate and less grafting material, dwarf Japanese maples may cost more than other varieties.
Upright Japanese maples grow to heights of 15 to 30 feet and assume the spreading shape most often seen in maple trees. Although uprights are larger trees, their size can be reduced by pruning or by growing them in a container, which may restrict their height to half of what is expected for the particular cultivar, and upright cultivars may be used for bonsai. The two best-known Japanese maple cultivars--Bloodgood and Osakazuki--are upright trees renowned for their extraordinary coloration. Upright Japanese maples are found throughout the United States except in the northern and southern extremes. As the U.S. Forest Service notes, the compact size, splendid color and lack of messy fruit make the upright Japanese maple an ideal residential tree.
Taking Care of Your Japanese Maple
Where you decide to plant your Japanese Maple is very crucial to its well being. They grow well in full morning sun. However, in the afternoon it is best that they receive some shade especially in hotter zones. Because of their shallow roots, plant Japanese Maples away from well established trees with thick roots such as pine and oak trees.
A young Japanese Maple should be watered frequently for the first few months and then twice a week afterwards. Because of their shallow roots, Japanese Maples need plenty and consistent water. Continued watering should occur during the fall up until the ground freezes
A Japanese Maple needs soil that is well drained and acidic. Their leaves will flourish a beautiful bright red with acidic soil. Put mulch around the soil to prevent weeds. Please make sure that the mulch is not touching the trunk of the tree.
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