Japanese maples zone 5

Japanese Maples Online

Selecting the proper Japanese maple tree for your garden or landscape depends on 5 factors: hardiness, location (sun or shade), mature size, type (lace leaf or palmatum) and preferred leaf color.

Tip 1 Choose a variety that is rated to be cold hardy in your zone. If you are planting it in a pot or container above ground, choose a variety that is at least two cold zones hardier than your zone. To learn more about Japanese maple cold hardiness

Tip 2 Determine how large you can allow your tree to grow. With a little pruning once or twice a year, Japanese maples are very easy to maintain at a specific size. But if you prefer not to prune, you will want to choose a variety that will naturally only grow to a size that will work in the allotted space for both height and width.

Tip 3 Where will it be planted, sun or shade? Most Japanese maples prefer morning sun and afternoon shade. Planting on the east side of a fence or building provides the best environment for Japanese maples. Avoid all day full sun locations especially in southern states. Japanese maples can live in that environment, but usually leaf scorch will occur when temperatures rise above 90 degrees and the sun is shining directly on them.

Tip 4 Japanese maples generally come in 2 types:

Dissectum (aka weeping or lace leaf) or Palmatum (aka upright or standard).

Most common to the trade are the lace leaf types, and most have red or purple leaves with a few green leafed varieties. I’m not aware of any variegated lace leaf varieties.

Palmatum types are about 60% red or purple leafed, 30% green leafed and 10% other (variegated, gold, multi-colored) . Most lace leaf types are weeping varieties, although a few upright lace leafs do exist. Inaba Shidare is a good upright red lace leaf and Seiryu is a good green upright variety.

One of the most important factors when considering which type to grow is sun exposure. The lace leaf types typically cannot tolerate as much direct sun and wind as palmatum types. The leaves are much more delicate due to the thinness of the leaf and the width of the leaf lobes. Planting a lace leaf Japanese maple in full sun is not advised and another selection should be considered.

The upright red type varieties that are well known for their ability to tolerate sunnier locations are Bloodgood and Emperor 1.

Osakazuki and Omure yama are good green uprights with great fall color. Red Select and Ever Red are said to be more tolerant to direct sun and Virdis and Waterfall are good green varieties for sunnier locations. Please keep in mind that while the mentioned varieties are more tolerant of sunnier locations, they may still show signs of burning on the leaf edges.

Tip 5 What leaf color do you prefer, red, green or variegated? Green-leafed varieties can tolerate sunnier and hotter exposure than red-leafed or variegated varieties. Green-leafed varieties grow faster and larger. Variegated varieties prefer shadier locations.

Use the chart below to select a Japanese maple tree suited for your requirements.

If you would like to learn more or purchase a specific variety of Japanese maple, click the variety link to our

Japanese Maple Online store.

JAPANESE MAPLE SELECTION CHART

HARDINESS ZONE LEAF COLOR TYPE VARIETY HEIGHT FEET SPREAD FEET
4-8 Red dissectum (Laceleaf) Inaba shidare 10 8
4-9 Red dissectum (Laceleaf) Tamukeyama 8 8
5-8 Green dissectum (Laceleaf) Waterfall 10 12
5-8 Green dissectum (Laceleaf) Virdis 10 12
5-8 Green japonicum Aconitifolium Maiku-jaku 10 5
5-8 Green japonicum Green Cascade 22 18
5-8 Green palmatum Shu Shidare 3 6
5-8 Green palmatum Green Mist 4 4
5-8 Green palmatum Murasaki Kiyohime 4 6
5-8 Green palmatum Green Hornet 5 5
5-8 Green palmatum Tiger Rose 6 4
5-8 Green palmatum Winter Flame 6 3
5-8 Green palmatum Rugose 7 4
5-8 Green palmatum Ao shime no uchi 8 4
5-8 Green palmatum Hogyoku 8 4
5-8 Green palmatum Kagiri Nishiki 8 4
5-8 Green palmatum Scolopendrifolium 8 4
5-8 Green palmatum Shigarami 8 4
5-8 Green palmatum Green Lace 12 4
5-8 Green palmatum Osakazuki 20 20
5-8 Green palmatum Sango Kaku 25 22
5-8 Green palmatum Green 25 25
5-8 Red dissectum (Laceleaf) Garnet 5 6
5-8 Red dissectum (Laceleaf) Crimson Queen 10 12
5-8 Red dissectum (Laceleaf) Red Dragon 10 12
5-8 Red palmatum Octopus 5 6
5-8 Red palmatum Skeeters Broom 5 3
5-8 Red palmatum Tsukushigata 6 4
5-8 Red palmatum Red Cloud 8 8
5-8 Red palmatum Pixie 8 4
5-8 Red palmatum Hubb’s Red Willow 8 4
5-8 Red palmatum Iijima Sunago 8 4
5-8 Red palmatum Red Emperor 10 6
5-8 Red palmatum Beni Otake 12 8
5-8 Red palmatum Burgundy Lace 12 10
5-8 Red palmatum Hefner’s Red 12 5
5-8 Red palmatum Trompenburg 15 15
5-8 Red palmatum Bloodgood 20 20
5-8 Red palmatum Oshio Bene 20 15
5-8 Red palmatum Atro-purpureum 25 25
5-8 Red palmatum atro-purpureum (Small Pots) 25 25
5-8 Red palmatum Atro-purpureum ((SEED)) 25 25
5-8 Red palmatum Atro-purpureum 25 25
5-8 Variegated palmatum First Ghost 6 3
5-8 Variegated palmatum Peaches & Cream 6 6
5-8 Variegated palmatum Amber Ghost 8 8
5-8 Variegated palmatum Grandma Ghost 8 4
5-8 Variegated palmatum Sagara Nishiki 9 6
5-8 Variegated palmatum Butterfly 15 8
5-8 Variegated palmatum Shirazz 15 12
5-8 Variegated palmatum Sister Ghost 6 4
5-8 Variegated palmatum Geisha 2 3
5-9 Green palmatum Glowing Embers 20 20
5-9 Red dissectum (Laceleaf) Ever Red 6 10
5-9 Red dissectum (Laceleaf) Lion Heart 10 6
5-9 Red palmatum Ruby Stars 3 2
5-9 Red palmatum Red Sentinel 8 12
5-9 Red palmatum Purple Ghost 12 5
5-9 Red palmatum Twisted Japanese red maple Tree 15 12
6-8 Green dissectum (Laceleaf) Seiryu 12 6
6-8 Green palmatum Omure yama 10 15
6-8 Red dissectum (Laceleaf) Red Select 6 10
6-8 Red dissectum (Laceleaf) Orangeola 8 8
6-8 Red palmatum Shishigashira 6 4
6-8 Red palmatum Shaina 6 4
6-8 Red palmatum Shishio Improved 10 4
6-8 Red palmatum Fireglow 15 15
6-8 Red palmatum Emperor I 20 15
6-8 Red palmatum Boskoop Glory 15 10
6-8 Red palmatum Moonfire 14 15
6-8 Variegated palmatum Beni Schichihenge 8 5

Enchanting Japanese Maples

‘Osakazuki’ has an upright habit and great fall color.
Photo/Illustration: Alan Mandell

With their small stature, tremendous variety, and four-season beauty, Japanese maples always offer something to see. Dark, undulating branches sometimes crested with snow create a variety of graceful silhouettes in winter. The rest of the year, the branches provide a structure on which a slipcover of leaves spreads colors and textures. Lush, new spring growth emerges, filling the bleak landscape with a variety of hues we usually expect in fall. Summer brings maturity—new growth hardens off, pinks and yellows fade while greens and reds deepen. In autumn, these trees fill the garden with a symphony of colors.

Japanese maples offer countless variations in size, shape, and texture. While nobody knows exactly how many different Japanese maple varieties exist, there are more than 700 unique cultivars in circulation. Selecting the right one from so many can be overwhelming, especially because virtually all of them are charmers. Though it was difficult to single them out, we have selected some of our favorite cultivars that are neither too obscure nor too obvious while showing a hint of the range one can find in this group of trees.

Further Reading:
Pruning Japanese Maples

Small-statured selections

‘Waterfall’ in autumn
Photo/Illustration: Michael Dirr‘Waterfall’ summer color
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Francie Schroeder

Name: ’Waterfall’
USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 8
Height: 6 to 8 feet
Spring Color: Bright green
Summer Color: Green
Fall Color: Red, gold, orange

‘Waterfall’ is a cultivar that sports green leaves all spring and summer before bursting into passionate shades of yellow and orange in fall. The crown of this 6- to 8-foot-tall tree is wide and low, resulting in a broad, slightly domed habit. It gets its name from the layers of branches that cascade softly toward the ground. Appropriately enough, ‘Waterfall’ is an excellent choice for growing next to a water feature.

Summer color of ‘Mikawa yatsubusa’
Photo/Illustration: Barbara Murray‘Mikawa yatsubusa’ fall color
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Francie Schroeder

Name: ‘Mikawa yatsubusa’
Zones: 5 to 8
Height: 3 to 4 feet
Spring Color: Yellow-green
Summer Color: Green
Fall Color: Gold, orange, purple

Reaching only 3 or 4 feet tall, the dwarf cultivar ‘Mikawa yatsubusa’ has the charm and warmth of a sturdy, diminutive hero from a fantastic tale. Its leaves are large for a dwarf, growing to about 2 to 212 inches long and wide. This foliage is layered tightly one over the other so that the top leaf reveals only the outer edge of the one below. Spending most of the year covered in light green, ‘Mikawa yatsubusa’ changes to gold, orange, and purple in autumn.

Fall color on ‘Inaba shidare’
Photo/Illustration: Francie Schroeder‘Inaba shidare’ summer color
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Francie Schroeder

Name: ‘Inaba shidare’
Zones: 5 to 8
Height: 6 to 8 feet
Spring Color: Deep red
Summer Color: Deep red, green
Fall Color: Bright red

‘Inaba shidare’ doesn’t wait for autumn to color its foliage. Drapes of delicate, deep red leaves flow across an architectural structure and down to the ground. Late summer brings out some green, but in fall that color is cast off in favor of a brilliant red. ‘Inaba shidare’ usually reaches 6 to 8 feet in height and spreads to a greater width. The growth habit is orderly and doesn’t necessitate frequent pruning.

Medium-size options

‘Aka shigitatsu sawa’ in summer
Photo/Illustration: Barbara Murray ‘Aka shigitatsu sawa’ fall color
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Francie Schroeder

Name: ‘Aka shigitatsu sawa’
Zones: 6 to 8
Height: 7 to 9 feet
Spring Color: Green, pink, red
Summer Color: Green, pink, red
Fall Color: Red

’Aka shigitatsu sawa’ is another tree with constantly changing color. In spring, this variegated cultivar has all the vibrant colors and texture of a strawberry-kiwi smoothie. These colors change steadily and dramatically during the summer: One week, there may be a lot of green; the next week features a wash of silver; the following week, yellow slips in. The foliage ultimately turns bright red in autumn. It grows slowly to about 7 to 9 feet high and gets quite broad with age.

‘Shin deshojo’ in summer
Photo/Illustration: Barbara Murray ‘Shin deshojo’ fall color
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Francie Schroeder

Name: ‘Shin deshojo’
Zones: 6 to 8
Height: 10 to 12 feet
Spring Color: Red
Summer Color: Red, green
Fall Color: Red, orange

‘Shin deshojo’ changes color with the season like a chameleon does with its background. The small, palmate leaves emerge a bright pink-red in spring. As the foliage turns green in summer, it retains traces of deep pink. Autumn finds the leaves turning back to red. This cultivar’s form naturally becomes a 10- to 12-foot-tall haystack, or the tree can be opened up to reveal its architecture through pruning.

Fall color of ‘Seiryu’
Photo/Illustration: Francie Schroeder ‘Seiryu’ summer color
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Francie Schroeder

Name: ‘Seiryu’
Zones: 5 to 8
Height: 10 to 14 feet
Spring Color: Green tipped in red
Summer Color: Bright green
Fall Color: Red, yellow

‘Seiryu’ is a standout among the eye-catching laceleaf Japanese maples. It retains the delicate foliage common to this group, but instead of the characteristic mounding habit, ‘Seiryu’ stands upright with a spreading canopy, reaching heights of 10 to 14 feet. The intricate form of the leaves provides interesting texture in spring and summer. But in fall, this cultivar, whose name means “blue-green dragon,” explodes into color as individual leaves develop a mix of red, green, orange, and yellow. ‘Seiryu’ grows happily in full sun or bright shade. If you want a tree that retains the upright habit and fall color of this tree but offers a heavier texture, try ‘Osakazuki’ (see the first photo in this article), whose leaves are fuller than those of ‘Seiryu’.

Summer green of ‘Koto no ito’
Photo/Illustration: Barbara Murray ‘Koto no ito’ fall color
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Francie Schroeder

Name: ‘Koto no ito’
Zones: 5 to 8
Height: 6 to 9 feet
Spring Color: Green tinged with red
Summer Color: Green
Fall Color: Yellow, orange, red

‘Koto no ito’ may resemble a cheerleader’s pom-pom when it’s young. Age and good pruning, however, reveal a more dignified specimen up to 9 feet tall, featuring a strong interior architecture that contrasts with its fine leaves and outer branches. The deeply divided foliage is long and thin like fringe. It emerges with crimson tinges before turning to solid green in summer. In fall, it turns yellow, burnt orange, and red. The leaves on each year’s new growth are much larger than the rest. ‘Koto no ito’ is a durable tree that adds a unique texture to any setting.

Taller trees

Fall color of ‘Sango kaku’
Photo/Illustration: Michael Dirr ‘Sango kaku’summer color
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Francie Schroeder

Name: ‘Sango kaku’
Zones: 6 to 8
Height: 18 to 22 feet
Spring Color: Bright green edged in red
Summer Color: Green
Fall Color: Yellow, orange

‘Sango kaku’ is always exciting to look at, courtesy of its bright red branches. This cultivar, whose name means “coral tower,” features green leaves that turn from yellow to pumpkin orange in fall. Reaching a mature height of 18 to 22 feet, ‘Sango kaku’ has a growth habit that can get a bit messy, so it should be pruned annually from a young age. Plant it where it will have excellent drainage; it is particularly vulnerable to fungi causing black stem disease and can quickly die from it.

‘Aconitifolium’ in the summer
Photo/Illustration: Melissa Lucas ‘Aconitifolium’ fall color
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Francie Schroeder

Name: ‘Aconitifolium’
Zones: 5 to 8
Height: 15 to 18 feet
Spring Color: Green
Summer Color: Green
Fall Color: Yellow, orange, red, purple

When summer droughts have left most Japanese maples tired and ready to shed their foliage, Acer japonicum cultivars, with their heavier branches and leaves, are still putting on a dramatic performance. ‘Aconitifolium’ is one of the best of the group with large, heavily lobed, green leaves that steal the show in autumn. Starting out a rich, deep yellow, they move through orange to a vibrant red and finally to purple. The combination of color and large, deeply divided leaves makes this upright tree seem larger than its 15- to 18-foot stature. Its Japanese name is ‘Mai kujaku’, which means “dancing peacock.”

‘Vitifolium’ in autumn
Photo/Illustration: Michael Dirr ‘Vitifolium’ spring color
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Francie Schroeder

Name: ‘Vitifolium’
Zones: 5 to 8
Height: 20 to 30 feet
Spring Color: Deep green
Summer Color: Deep green
Fall Color: Gold, crimson

‘Vitifolium’ is another A. japonicum cultivar that is quite vigorous and gets up to 30 feet tall. With its 5-inch-long and 6-inch-wide green leaves, it makes a majestic impression.

Japanese Maples

Acer palmatum and cvs.
(AY-sir pal-MAY-tum)

Related species: Though Acer palmatum is the most common, several other species, such as A. japonicum, A. sieboldianum, and A. shirasawanum, are considered Japanese maples.

Hardiness: While most Japanese maples are hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8, some are recommended only to Zone 6; Acer sieboldianum can take Zone 4. Protect all Japanese maples from the afternoon sun if located in Zone 8 and from bitter winds in Zone 4 and the northern sections of Zone 5.

Conditions: Grow these trees in full sun to partial shade. They are tolerant when it comes to soil unless planted in a site with poor drainage or a high pH.

Planting: When possible, plant Japanese maples while dormant. If your tree has already begun to leaf out, wait until the danger of frost has passed before planting. In clay soil, ensure proper drainage by planting on a slope, or with the root flare about 3 inches above the soil line then mounding the earth around it.

Maintenance: Under normal conditions, established Japanese maples do not need additional watering or feeding. If you decide to add fertilizer, avoid synthetic options because maples abhor the salt they contain. Prune once every few years to improve air circulation and to enhance the form.

Pests and diseases: Japanese maples are not prone to harm from pests or diseases.

If you’re looking for a focal point to really set off your home’s curb appeal, don’t overlook Japanese maples.

Japanese maple most commonly refers to any cultivar of Acer palmatum, which is native to Japan, China, and Korea.

But cultivars of A. japonicum and A. shirasawanum are sometimes thrown into the mix as well – which are also native to Japan.

And, with over 700 cultivars, you will, without question, find one to suit your every desire.

These large deciduous shrubs/small trees come in a number of shapes and sizes.

Upright or weeping. Tall and picturesque. Short and muscular.

I promise I’m staying on topic…

Photo by Matt Suwak.

Their delicate, often purple leaves turn some sort of brilliant shade of red, orange, or yellow in the fall.

Their characteristic gray bark creates a clear silhouette in the moonlight and is beautiful against snow in the winter.

And their branching limbs offer balance to any design.

Japanese maples have the power to define your landscape.

Before you run out to get one (because you really should and because my intro is seriously convincing) here’s what you need to know.

Get it Right

Before even thinking about planting a Japanese maple in your yard, let’s see if they’re a good fit for your location.

Most cultivars are cold hardy to around 20°F, or zones 5 through 9.

Naturally, these small trees grow in the understory of woodlands, where sunlight is dappled. So, a location in partial shade is fitting.

Full sun is great too if you live in a northern zone where summer temperatures aren’t as intense.

But if it gets really hot in your area, some shade is highly recommended. Otherwise, young leaves may burn and scald.

Variegated types are most vulnerable to leaf scorch. While it likely won’t kill the tree, it’s definitely unsightly.

As a bonus, these beauties can even tolerate full shade – just know that leaf color may not be what you expect and fall brilliance may suffer as well.

Soil type can be almost anything – clay, loam, sand – but it has to be well draining. Water logged soil is a sure way to kill almost any Japanese maple.

It’s also best if soil is slightly acidic.

If planted in clay soil, make sure it’s on higher ground to avoid standing water.

Keep Your Tree Alive and Vibrant

It all starts with the hole you dig.

Make sure it’s big enough – usually twice as wide as the root ball and just deep enough that the top of the root ball is flush with or just above the soil line once watered in.

A little too high is okay. Too deep and you may have some problems.

If the roots are bound up, go ahead and make a few cuts with your pruners or a knife to free some of them up.

Backfill the hole well, adding some compost if desired. Make sure to tamp the soil to get it to settle. Also, don’t forget to check that the trunk is straight.

Staking may be a good idea if your tree is especially tall at the time of planting, or if you experience frequent winds.

Hands down, the most vulnerable time for a tree is during the first few years after it has been transplanted.And it’s no different for Japanese maples.

While established trees can withstand dry spells, newly transplanted trees cannot. So, whatever you do, do not let your tree dry out in its first few years after being transplanted.

Trees planted in full sun, especially in hotter climates, will need more water in general, even after established.

A few inches of mulch will help to retain moisture, not to mention suppress weeds and regulate soil temperature.

Be sure not to mulch too close around the base of the trunk, which will smother it. Lay mulch very lightly closest to the trunk, and thicker as you move away from the trunk.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

Japanese maples are typically early to leaf out in the spring, which is great for aesthetics. However, late spring frosts could kill off the fresh growth.

Trees planted in full sun are particularly susceptible to late spring frosts, as these areas will warm faster and encourage branches to leaf out earlier.

One way to delay leafing out is to add a thicker layer of mulch around the base of the tree, between 3 to 4 inches.

Again, avoid clumping mulch up against the trunk. It won’t be happy.

Prune all dead, dying, or diseased branches as you see them. Pruning for shape and structure is best done sometime in late fall through mid winter.

Be sure to practice proper pruning techniques. Otherwise, you’ll probably do more harm than good.

Fertilization may not ever be necessary. But if you notice your tree looking less than healthy, consider a soil test. We share more information about the steps you need to take at home to have your soil analyzed here.

In lieu of a soil test, the best option is to maintain a low level of fertility.

Since specimens are generally slow growing, too much fertilizer – especially nitrogen – can be particularly harmful.

A fertilizer formulated specifically for Japanese maples is ideal.

Also, since they are prone to frost damage, it’s important to wait until after the last frost to fertilize.

Finding the Best Cultivar

With so many to choose from, you may feel a little overwhelmed when choosing which cultivar of Japanese maple to plant.

Here’s how to narrow your selection down:

Know Your Zone

Cold hardiness is cultivar specific, so know your growing zone.

This will be the first step to narrowing down your selection.

Also, if you plan to grow your Japanese maple in a container, choose a variety that’s hardy to two zones north of your area. Or, be prepared to provide winter protection.

How Much Space do You Have?

Japanese maples vary wildly in size and growth habit.

So, don’t make the mistake of buying a tree and picking the location afterwards.

Know exactly where you want it, and know that it’s a good location per the recommendations above beforehand.

An area with a diameter of at least 5 feet is a good starting point.

Knowing how much space you have to grow your plant will determine which varieties are a possible fit.

If you’re okay with pruning a little heavier every year, you can likely maintain your tree at a certain size. But if low maintenance is your golden ticket, pick a cultivar with a natural growth habit suitable for the space you have.

The majority of cultivars are considered slow growing, putting on less than one foot of new growth every year.

Dwarf varieties typically max out between 6 and 8 feet, while taller ones can reach over 40 feet.

Which Type Do You Prefer?

In general, there are two main forms of Japanese maples:

They’re either a more compact, large shrub with lacy leaves that tend to branch lower and even become weeping- or they’re more upright, with a vase-like structure and tree form.

From there, you can usually find varieties with different leaf colors, usually purple, red, or green during the summer, and some amazing shade of red, orange, or yellow during the fall.

Different leaf colors and types have different implications for sunlight exposure, so keep this in mind when making your final decision.

Be sure that your specific cultivar matches your site’s conditions, not just conditions that are suitable to most Japanese maples.

You Won’t Be Disappointed

As long as you take your time with the decision, you won’t regret including a Japanese maple in your landscape.

Most importantly, make sure the cultivar you choose is a good one, not only for your zone, but your specific location in your landscape.

Also, be sure to baby your plant in its first few years in its new location. Mostly, you just need to worry about watering adequately.

There’s nothing more disappointing than investing time and money in a beautiful tree just to watch it slowly – or quickly – perish.

Choose the right location and keep it well watered and you should be a happy new Japanese maple grower.

Do you have experience growing Japanese maples? Tell us everything you know! Just leave us a message in the comments.

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About Amber Shidler

Amber Shidler lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and holds a dual bachelor’s degree in botany and geography. For four years she worked as a horticulturist, but is now a stay-at-home mom. With experience in landscape design, installation, and maintenance she has set her sights on turning her tenth-of-an-acre lot into a productive oasis. Amber is passionate about all things gardening, especially growing and enjoying organic food.

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