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Maas Nursery in Seabrook, where we will be doing Saturday’s GardenLine Appearance, is the local authority on growing these magnificent accent trees. Below are facts from Jim Maas himself about growing them in the Houston area:
Japanese Maples despise Houston summers. In our climate, they are best used as understory trees and should be planted in the shade. They have graceful growth patterns and brilliantly colorful leaves. The leaf color intensifies with new growth and cool nights. The sun helps keep the leaves colorful.
They need enough sun to keep them colorful, but not so much that they burn or die. My best results occur when the maple is shaded from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the summer. Any more sun and they burn; any less and they will have a shortened period of intense color. All Japanese Maples are deciduous. Most have great fall color if the weather is cool before they lose their leaves.
We grow and sell a variety of Japanese Maples capable of tolerating our hot summers. However, I have noticed differing heat tolerances within plants of the same name. Some growers have “sub” varieties that are better in the heat. We sell those, as well. Even with the correct variety, they all stress a bit in the summer. A few brown tips on the leaves is normal. Keep them watered. Japanese Maples do not like extreme drought conditions. The first two summers are the most critical. Daily watering is required to help them root-in well.
Seed-grown (non-grafted) plants are available in one gallon pots. Most named varieties contain eight to ten grafts, and are available in three gallon pots. Grafting costs more, but ensures a strong root and an interesting top. The following list contains some of the varieties we sell. Remember, you will need a heat-resistant strain, and just because it is on the list does not guarantee it will grow well here.
- Acer Palmatum (seed grown): A small green-leafed tree that grows 20 to 25 feet. The foliage is light green, deeply lobed, and tends to have brilliant fall color in the right conditions.
- Red Leaf Japanese Maple (seed grown): An 18 foot open-growing tree with vibrant fall and spring color.
- Bloodgood: Very attractive foliage with color fading red to green in the summer heat. Scarlet fall coloring, interesting dark bark on older trees and a slender, airy form exceeding 15 feet.
- Burgundy Lace: Graceful tree with deeply lobed, finely serrated burgundy spring leaves. Grows 10 to 12 feet.
- Crimson Queen: Low-branching dwarf tree with graceful, weeping limbs. Crimson spring leaves green in the summer. Grows 10 feet.
- Emperor 1: Small (15 foot) dark red tree. Leaves sprout later.
- Black: Slow-growing tree up to 12 feet. Black-red new foliage matures to deep purple-red.
- Oshio-Beni: Grows 15 feet. Leaves are more orange.
- Coral Bark: Up to 25-foot tree with pink stems in the winter. Leaves are light green and turn brilliant colors in the fall.
- Shiana: Dwarf. Grows to 8 feet. Bright red leaves mature to maroon.
- Waterfall: Weeping form. Fine green foliage, golden in the fall.
We carry about ten other dwarf weeping varieties in limited quantities. Please visit our store for details as we don't keep an updated list. Some varieties are so new they have not been named.
While they are considered accent trees, they are still trees and I recommend MicroLife 6-2-4 for deep-root feeding purposes.
I hope you enjoy the Japanese Maples as much as we do.