Plant of the Week: Japanese Maple

 About the Plant

I'm going to be honest, you will most likely never have a Japanese Maple in your backyard like the one to the left, but I think its a great example of the potential this tree has.  This tree is low-maintenance, provides great color and is ideal for small urban spaces like we have here in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  These can add a focal point amongst a garden full of other trees and plants or can act as a single speciman in a planter or bed.

 Species and Cultivars

There are many, many, many different types of Japanese Maples (Acer Palmatum) and we don't have the space to go into them all.  In New York and many areas of the United States you will see mainly the 'Bloodgood' (its the upright maple with bright red foliage in the spring that turns dark green in the fall), 'Burgundy Lace' (upright with red in the spring and fall and green during summer) and the ever popular 'Dissectum' which is the smaller of the varieties that looks like an umbrella (drive into any Long Island suburb and you will see what we are talking about).  My personal favorite it the Bloodgood but be sure to do some more research to see all the options that are out there.

 Growing Tips

Although they can withstand it quite well, if they are in direct sunlight all day the leaves tend to wither a bit.  I see many of these in quite shady locations and they seem to thrive.  We once came across one that was left in the backyard of a house that had been vacant for sometime and the plant was doing excellent on its own.  Its good to prune it so it develops the branch structure you would like it to have, and pruning will strengthen the branches that are attached to the trunk.  It doesn't love water, but it does love mulch (what doesn't).