Japanese Maples in Texas

Brillian Orange Japanese Maple Japanese Maple is the understory tree of choice in Texas now. They are slightly easier than dogwoods to initiate into the Texas heat and soil. I have never lost a Japanese Maple but I have lost many, many young dogwoods. Established dogwoods, do very well.

It takes roughly two years for a Japanese Maple to become established – so keep it well watered July through October in Texas.

The best way to select a Japanese Maple is to follow the checklist below and then search for the perfect tree for your specific landscape garden design.

 Criteria for Selecting a Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple in Texas Landscape Design

Japanese Maple in Texas Landscape Design.  This spring colored Japanese Maple represents a wide and open branching Japanese Maple with full sized leaves.  The relevant question for gardeners is will the Japanese Maple hold this color all summer or revert to a green in the heat and what will the color become in the autumn.

Japanese Maples blooming early in Dallas.

Japanese Maples blooming early in Dallas.  This is a medium red Japanese Maple.  It could possibly be Bloodgood and based on the branching I am leaning toward Bloodgood but it is so young that it is hard to tell.  This could be Red Emperor.

Naming Japanese Maples can be difficult and I am sure I am not always right.  According to Japanese Maples by J.D. Vertrees and Peter Gregory, Atropurpureum can be any of a number of red cultivars. “because many nurseries have used this name for any red-leaved seedling selection, it has become so diluted as to be meaningless.”

Further “the original plant of this name was probably an excellent clone originating from the old nursery of Constant Wattez….” Atropurpureum, which has also been called Blood Leaf, means a red Acer palmatum.  Decide on the characteristics you like and go looking for your perfect Japanese Maples, sorry do not rely on my naming.

It is crucial to understand which Japanese Maple may be a beautiful scarlet in the spring but will become green in the summer heat and even turn to a pale coral later in the autumn.

Decide on the Right Japanese Maple for Your Landscape Design

Height – are you using this as a tree or a shrub?

Branching – do want thick and dense like Blood Good or open and wide like the Crane?

Leaf structure – do you want lace or wide leaves?

Color – This seems simple but spring colors can change to green, do you want that?  Fall color can be brilliant.


While the crimson Japanese Maple is the most popular, I like the delicate nature of the green Japanese Maple as well. This tree deserves to be categorized with the blooming trees because it brings so much color to the garden. Sometimes I feel you can overdo the crimson shrubs. They are wonderful, though.

Landscaping design in Dallas often includes Japanese Maples to frame the entrance. Careful thought is given to blending the color of the Japanese Maple with the finish of the house.

Landscaping design in Dallas often includes Japanese Maples to frame the entrance. Careful thought is given to blending the color of the Japanese Maple with the finish of the house.  As summer progresses the vibrant spring leaves of the Japanese Maple often turn greenish.   Japanese Maples by J.D. Vertrees and Peter Gregory indicates that this was not always the case but cross breeding at some nurseries have created this color fading.

These Japanese Maples beautifully frame the window. You can see the Japanese Maple on the right has not reached the same height as the Japanese Maple on the left. She shade of the oak tree has slowed the tree's growth progress.

These Japanese Maples beautifully frame the window. You can see the Japanese Maple on the right has not reached the same height as the Japanese Maple on the left. She shade of the oak tree has slowed the tree’s growth progress. Again, careful thought was given to contrasting colors here, rather than blending colors.

When planting a Japanese Maple first decide whether you want the shrub look of the Crimson Queen or a dwarf shrub like Japanese Maple or a full tree look.

Japanese Maples Number One Under-story Tree in Dallas

Laceleaf Dwarf Japanese Maples in bronze colors. The fern urns include variegated ivy and pale geraniums.

Laceleaf Dwarf Japanese Maples in bronze colors which is probably Orangeola. The fern urns include variegated ivy and pale geraniums.  Orangeola, which is much like the Crimson Queen in leaf structure, just more orange.

This looks like Orangeola which is dwarf, lace leaf, Japanese Maple.

This looks like Orangeola which is dwarf, lace leaf, Japanese Maple that works as a shrub.

Skeeters Broom Japanese Maple Skeeters Broom Japanese Maple is a miniature green Japanese Maple with broad leaves.
v Japanese Maple Dallas Arboretum

When deciding on a tree look determine whether you want the open airy branching of the Nuresagi Japanese Maple or the denser branching of the Bloodgood Japanese Maple.  Certainly decide on the height!

Holly fern with Japanese Maplee

Holly fern with Japanese Maple that has begun to green in the heat of the Texas summer.

Dwarf Japanese Maple

I used to know the name of the plant in the middle but will have to look that up. I believe it is ‘Leopard’ something?

The most popular Japanese Maple is the Red Emperor.

The Red Emperor Japanese Maple.

The Red Emperor Japanese Maple is densely branched.

Emperor One Japanese Maple, deep red broad leafed Japanese Maple.

Emperor One Japanese Maple, deep red broad leafed Japanese Maple with more open branching.

Japanese Maples have multiple choices in leaf structure such as the Crimson Queen, a deeply cut leaf such as Bloodgood or a more traditional leaf structure such as Glowing Ember or Full Moon Japanese Maple.

Deeply cut leaves below are significantly different in impact from lacey leaves.

Emperor One Japanese Maple with barberry and red shrub roses. Japanese Maples a barberry shrubs are often used to compliment one another.

Bloodgood Japanese Maple with barberry and red shrub roses. Japanese Maples a barberry shrubs are often used to compliment one another.  This could be the Purple Ghost Japanese Maple?  But I think it is Bloodgood.  Once summer comes the brilliant colors fade.

Red Emperor Japanese Maple

Red Emperor Japanese Maple

Red Emperor Japanese Maple

Red Emperor Japanese Maple

Red Emperor Japanese Maple

Selecting a Japanese Maple for your Landscape Vision

Deeply cut leaves below are significantly different in impact from lacey leaves.

These are the broad leaves of a full sized Japanese Maple. This is Emperor One a popular full sized Japanese Maple.

These are the broad leaves of a full sized Japanese Maple. This is Emperor One a popular full sized Japanese Maple.

Crimson Queen and Other Lace Leaf Japanese Maples

The Crimson Queen is the most popular lace leaf Japanese Maple.

Crimson Queen Japanese Maple with French Hydrangeas.

Crimson Queen in May Japanese Maple Burgundy. The Crimson Queen is a mounding true shrub like Japanese Maple.

Crimson Queen in May Japanese Maple Burgundy

Crimson Queen in May Japanese Maple Burgundy. The Crimson Queen is a mounding true shrub like Japanese Maple.

Japanese_maple_Dallas_Texas__Lee_Ann_Torrans

A taller lace leaf burgundy Japanese Maple.  Emperor One, Shaina Japanese Maple and Enkan Japanese Maples have the lacy leaf structure of the Crimson Queen but are tree like in shape. Emperor One grows 15 to 20 feet tall. Shaina Japanese Maple grows 7 to 8 feet and Enkan Japanese Maples reaches 8 to 10 feet.

Emperor One, Shaina Japanese Maple and Enkan Japanese Maples have the lacy leaf structure of the Crimson Queen but are tree like in shape. Emperor One grows 15 to 20 feet tall. Shaina Japanese Maple grows 7 to 8 feet and Enkan Japanese Maples reaches 8 to 10 feet.

Emperor One, Shaina Japanese Maple and Enkan Japanese Maples have the lacy leaf structure of the Crimson Queen but are tree like in shape. Emperor One grows 15 to 20 feet tall. Shaina Japanese Maple grows 7 to 8 feet and Enkan Japanese Maples reaches 8 to 10 feet.

The Crimson Queen is the most popular lace leaf Japanese Maple. This one is surrounded by a hedge of nandinas, creating a stunning contrast. Both have branching that tapers downward in a splay of leaves.
This one is surrounded by a hedge of nandinas, creating a stunning contrast. Both have branching that tapers downward in a splay of leaves.

Crimson lace leaf Japanese Maple.  This is clearly a young Japanese Maple but it is beautiful with a larger Japanese Maple and the shrub, Loropetalum.

Crimson lace leaf Japanese Maple. This is clearly a young Japanese Maple but it is beautiful.

 

Two to Three Years to Establish a Japanese Maple

Moist soil is necessary for two year establishment period.  Do not rely on your sprinkler system the first two years your Japanese Maple is becoming established.
These Japanese Maples retain their brilliant color in mid-June.  They receive a bit of sun in this location. (Late June)

Nuresagi Japanese Maple

Nuresagi Japanese Maple is a deeply colored full leaf that opens in the darkest of red (NOT BURGUNDY) ultimately becoming a purplish-red and turning brilliant red in the fall.

The growth habit and form are similar to ‘Bloodgood’ but more opened branched.

The name ‘Nuresagi’ is Japanese for “wet heron” which describes the buds of this tree as it leafs out in the spring.  This is an upright tree with open branching, full leaf and 20 feet or more.

Purple Ghost Japanese Maple and Deep Purple Barberry

Emperor One Japanese Maple with purple barberry and cast iron, aspidistra, against gray walls. A common landscape design technique.

Purple Ghost? Japanese Maple with purple barberry and cast iron, aspidistra, against gray walls. A common landscape design technique.  A masterful planting of Burgundy Lace Japanese Maples, Burgundy Barberry, aspidistra, and leather leaf fern.  Crimson Pigmy is a good choice for a deep burgundy small Barberry.

Above is purple Japanese Maples are combined with purple Barberry and Cast Iron plants.  Purple Japanese Maples and Purple Barberry are a common complimentary landscape design, particularly against gray walls.

Barberry complimenting dark burgundy Japanese Maple

Barberry complimenting dark burgundy of the Purple Ghost Japanese Maple.  These are dark, dark uniformly colored leaves and to me not as vivid or attractive as the lighter colors but they provide high solid contrast and make a statement.

 Brilliant Red Japanese Maples

Brilliant red full leafed Japanese Maple.

Brilliant red full leafed Japanese Maple.

Looks like Fireglow Japanese Maple. Looks like Fireglow Japanese Maple flanking the entrance.

Brilliant red full leafed Japanese Maple.

Brilliant deep red full leafed Japanese Maple.

This upright deep red Japanese Maple could be Crimson Fire or possibly Red Barron.

This upright deep red Japanese Maple could be Crimson Fire or possibly Red Barron.

Loropetalum and Bloodgood Japanese Maples

Purple Pixie Loropetalum at one to two feet tall and four to five feet wide would work more as a ground cover.  It comes in a weeping version as well which would be great for dropping over planting beds.  I do not know of a size between the two.  Read more about Loropetalum here.

I believe this is Bloodgood. She the urn upward shape that is densely branched? But the color may be a bit more orange. Perhaps that is just the light.

I believe this is Bloodgood. The urn upward shape is densely branched. But the color may be a bit more orange. Perhaps that is just the light. It makes sense the landscaper would select Bloodgood for Pixie Loropetalum coordination.

Below Pixie Loropetalum is used with urn shaped ruby/orange colored Japanese Maples.  Compare the fuller branching more vase appearance of the Japanese Maple to the open branching – and give some thought to the look you want.  Below you see the shape of the Japanese Maples echoes the shape of the urns on each side of the entry.
Pixie Purple Loropetalum
Pixie Loropetalum (the purple shrub) is a great compliment to Japanese Maples.

Barberry Compliment to Japanese Maple

If you mix Barberry with your Japanese Maple be careful about the full size of the barberry.  Barberry shrubs do not respond well to pruning.  They do best growing to their natural shape and size and they do have the little ‘legs’ you see at the bottom if allowed to grow naturally.
Red Rocket or Orange Rocket Barberry.

Red Rocket or Orange Rocket Barberry which is a great compliment to a Japanese Maple.

The ruby colored barberry is a common complimentary shrub to the Japanese Maple.

Japanese Maple Summer Fading

 The brilliant colors of many Japanese Maples in the spring will fade in the heat of the summer. These Japanese Maples receive enough sun to remain brilliant into the summer months.

Japanese Maples Popular Flanking Front Entrances

Japanese Maples often flank the front entrance to a home.  Pay close attention to the size and color to compliment your home.

Placing Japanese Maples or Crape Myrtles across the exterior of a home is also a common landscape design element.

Placing Japanese Maples or Crape Myrtles across the exterior of a home is also a common landscape design element.

High Cotton White Crape Myrtle

High Cotton White Crape Myrtle. A common landscape design technique is to place a row of trees across the facade of a home.  Yes, these are crapes, I am just demonstrating the landscape technique.

Japanese Maples flank the entrance.

Japanese Maples flank the entrance.

Not sure, this could be Fireglow, 25 feet tall with orange / red tones and a broad leaf.

Not sure, this could be Fireglow, 25 feet tall with orange / red tones and a broad leaf but it branches like Bloodgood.

Japanese Maple Compliment to Perennial Garden

  June_Perennial_Garden_Dallas_Texas_Lee_Ann_Torrans
This Japanese Maple serves as a backdrop for an established June blooming perennial bed with Russian Sage in full bloom, artemesia, and Maiden Head ornamental grass beginning to bloom.  Read more on Texas Perennials which bloom in June here.

 

Glowing Ember Japanese Maple in the Setting Sun

 
 Glowing Ember Above.
Golden Full Moon Japanese Maple grow five to seven feet.  Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’

Glowing Embers Japanese Maple

Full Moon Japanese Maples. Place Japanese Maple in groups of three is a common landscape design feature in Dallas.

Full Moon Japanese Maples. Place Japanese Maple in groups of three is a common landscape design feature in Dallas.

Full Sun Japanese Maple in Highland Park below.  (Late June)

Palmatifolium Full Moon Japanese Maple – open branching and 20 to 30 feet.

Consider the morning and evening sun.  As the sun shines through the Japanese Maple the colors are accentuated.  This is a technique professional landscapers employ.

  The western sun shining through Ember Glow Japanese Maple. Professional landscape designers often place broad leafed Japanese Maples to catch the evening sun. It's truly lovely.

The western sun shining through Ember Glow Japanese Maple. Professional landscape designers often place broad leafed Japanese Maples to catch the evening sun. It’s truly lovely.

 

Palmatifolium Full Moon Japanese Maple – open branching and 20 to 30 feet.

Three Green Japanese Maples in a row.  A common planting convention in Dallas.

Three green Japanese Maple Bent Tree area.  This is a common landscape techinque in Dallas and you see it often, three soldier like, upward branching Japanese Maples standing side by side.
Three green Japanese Maples
Three Green Japanese Maples Preston Hollow:
  Dallas_Best_Landscaping_Design_Lee_Ann_Torrans_Dallas_Gardening-2
 Three green Japanese Maples Highland Park upward branching standing side by side.

Three green Japanese Maple upward branching standing side by side.

Three green Japanese Maple upward branching standing side by side.

Three Japanese Maples.

Three Japanese Maples.

 

Overview of Japanese Maple Varieties

Full Sun Japanese Maple:  Glowing Embers is brilliant in its fall color, and adaptability to a wide variety of landscape conditions.  It grows 20 to 30 feet and thrives in full sun and tolerates drought better than most trees in it class. A single branch may display four distinctly different colors at the same time.

Full Moon Japanese Maples – open branching and orange spring coloring

Beautiful orange colors of the Full Moon Japanese Maple above.  The Full Moon has the open branching structure and the full leaf.  It grows 20 feet tall or more in good conditions.

Burgundy Lace grows to 15 feet and has deeply cut leaves.

Crimson Queen is much like Burgundy Lace in its coloring and leaf structure but it grows to only four feet and is shrub like.

Twolby’s Red Sentinel Japanese Maple is an upright, densely leafed and branched Japanese Maple.

Emperor One has a deeply cut leaf and a deep purple color – though it is NOT the black burgundy.

Orange Colored Japanese Maples: Palmatifolium Full Moon Japanese Maple – open branching and 20 to 30 feet.

The Red Emperor is less burgundy in color and more red.  It grows 15 to 20 feet and has the deep cut leaves.

Nuresagi Japanese Maple – is a more opened branch Japanese Maple than Blood Good.  Nuresagi Japanese Maple, a full sun Japanese Maple Orange Glow

Blood Good Japanese Maple – has deep cut leave but not the lacey leaves.  It grows 15 to 20 feet high and is slightly less deeply colored than the Crimson Queen.  It falls between a red and burgundy in color.  It is heavily branched and not airy in appearance.  It turns orange in the fall.

OSAKAZUKI – The Reddest Japanese Maple that Exists

A full leafed dwarf red Japanese Maple above.The absolute best Japanese Maple for the most brilliant red fall color possible is ‘Osakazuki’.  The leaves are dark green from spring to early autumn.
 When I came upon this Japanese Maple in the fall my heart stopped.  I have NOT colorized this photo.
True Red Japanese Maple
Full Leaf Japanese Maple RED in Autumn
 Acer japonicum ‘Vitifolium’.  This is  larger Japanese Maple.  The leaves are deeply cut (but not lacey) and the tree grows to 20 or 30 feet.

 

 Green Waterfall Japanese Maple Below

The green Japanese Maple is beautiful with hostas, hydrangeas, cast iron plants and ferns.  I think the green lace leaf, dwarf and standard Japanese Maples are overlooked for the purple shades too often.
  Japanese Maples in Texas
  Green_Dwarf_Laceleaf_Japanese_Maple_Texas_Lee_Ann_Torrans
Green Dwarf Japanese Maple
 Perfect green dwarf Japanese Maple.  Possibly the most important consideration in selecting a dwarf Japanese Maple is how you want to use it.  If you are using it as a shrub or a shrub collection of Japanese Maples you may consider purchasing trees that are rounded at top and wider than tall.  This creates the shrub image and varying colors creates a Japanese garden look.
  Full Leaf Mounding Dwarf Japanese Maple

 

  Flirt Purple Nandina Lee Ann Torrans Dallas Gardening and Landscape
 Flirt, a purple Nandina would also be an excellent choice for the Burgundy Japanese Maple.  Japanese Maple planted with Burgundy Barberry.

Japanese Maples in Dallas Texas Landscape Design

Japanese Maples in Dallas Texas Landscape Design