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Japanese maples are an excellent addition to any garden

POSTED: September 4, 2014 8:03 p.m.

Ornamental Japanese maples are some of the most beautiful trees on the planet. As the name suggest, these maple trees are native to Japan and were brought into the U.S. in the 1800s. Now is a great time to choose a few varieties to plant in the fall.

Japanese maples can offer beautiful red, green and purple leaves and on some of them, the leaves will change color throughout the seasons and into fall. There are many different types and varieties of maples with their own distinctive characteristics, including size, shape and color. Japanese maples are generally smaller than the average maple tree and will thrive here in our planting zone 7B.

Some of the more popular Japanese maples are Coral Bark (Sangu Kaku), Dissectum Lace leaf and Bloodgood maples. Of course, there are many more to choose from that will grow well in our area, so call the Extension office for a more detailed list.

The Coral Bark maple tree is beautiful with an upright growth pattern. The unique characteristic of this tree is that the bark turns from a green color to a bright coral red during the winter months. This tree creates visual interest during the cold months when paired with an evergreen as a backdrop. The Coral Bark can grow up to 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide.

The Dissectum Lace Leaf is another beautiful maple variety that has deeply cut, feathery red-purple leaves that turn bright crimson in the fall. This tree has a weeping, graceful habit in appearance. The lace leaf can grow up to 8 feet tall and wide and is used as a focal tree in a garden.

Another variety is the popular Baron Bloodgood maple. This maple has deep reddish leaves that lighten to a bright red in the fall. This tree has a beautiful wide spreading upper canopy and can grow 20 feet high. The bark on the Bloodgood has decorative hues of black and red.

Most Japanese maples are used as a specimen planting or focal point. They can be used as a border shrub as well.

Japanese maples thrive in partial shade, but can grow in full sun, too. Plant them in well amended organic soil that drains well. Some trees grow more rapidly than others so check on the selected varieties growth habit. Rapid growth can be expected when a young tree is planted, but growth tends to slow down as the tree matures.

Protect Japanese maples from drought situations. Lack of water leaves the maples susceptible to disease, such as fungal cankers.

Also, too much water in wet planting sites can be a source of root rot issues. Be sure to plant maples in well drained areas.

The best defense against pest and disease is a healthy tree planted in organic well-drained soil, proper fertilization and a sunny location.

Wanda Cannon serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Contact her at 770-535-8293 or wcannon@hallcounty.org. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.



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