Korean maple for sale

What Is A Korean Maple – Learn How To Grow A Korean Maple Tree

You’ve heard of silver maples and Japanese maples, but what is a Korean maple? It’s a small maple tree that makes a wonderful substitute for Japanese maple in colder regions. For more Korean maple information and tips on how to grow a Korean maple, read on.

What is a Korean Maple?

Korean maple trees (Acer pseudosieboldianum) look quite a bit like the popular Japanese maples, but they are hardier. The trees thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. The tree is native to China and Korea, where it grows in forested areas. This small specialty maple matures to about 25 feet tall (7.6 m.) and wide.

Korean Maple Information

The Korean maple is a delicate tree with some exceptional features. In spring

when new leaves open, they are soft and downy. Each has some 10 lobes and is about as wide as your hand. The blossoms appear in spring as well, hanging in surprising purple clusters. They develop into the tree’s fruits, winged samaras, in summer.

A big attraction of the tree is its spectacular fall color. The dark green leaves flame into shades of orange, purple, yellow, red and crimson as the weather gets chilly in autumn.

How to Grow a Korean Maple

If you want to grow a Korean maple, find a site with moist, organically rich soil and excellent drainage. Korean maple trees will not be happy with wet feet.

You can plant these beauties in a full sun area or a spot with sun-dappled shade. Don’t pick a site that is hot and dry.

Caring for Korean Maples

Once you have your tree started, caring for Korean maples includes watering. These are quite thirsty trees and require regular irrigation. Provide Korean maple trees with water every week throughout the growing season, but offer extra water during dry periods.

You’ll also need to protect these trees from strong winds. Protection is also required in the coldest zones.

You won’t have to worry much about insect or disease problems. While the trees are susceptible to stem canker, leaf spots and anthracnose, they do not have any serious pest or disease issues.

Green leaf Japanese maples are one of the most under used plants. This is odd, because purple leaf Japanese maples are one of the most over used ornamental trees.

OK, I know they are really not THAT overplanted yet. However, if you see the pallets full of them at Home Depot every year, you probably agree they will be soon. In a few years, the number of home gardeners that DON’T have one or two somewhere in their yard will be very small. This is especially true for odd balls that read blogs about plants, landscaping, pruning, etc.

Why are the purple ones over planted?

OK, I get why they are everywhere. Japanese maples are great garden trees. Even the big ones don’t get too big. They don’t usually have pest problems. You can get ones that grow into trees or shrubs.

photo credit: doug_wertman via photopin ccEven a newly planted small Bloodgood Japanese maple adds nice fall color to the garden

Then there’s the Fall Color. Japanese maples look their best in autumn. Depending on the cultivar, their leaves can become various shades of blood red, glowing gold, or brilliant orange. They also change color very late in the season, thus extending fall color almost to winter.

But why do most people buy Japanese Maples? It’s the red to purple leaf color. A red or purple leaf plant that gives color most of the year has an obvious appeal. The problem is when you plant a bunch of these trees and then they grow. Then your purple colored leaves start to take over your garden.

Green is the most underrated color in the landscape. A landscape lacking green is not usually very appealing.

photo credit: **Mary** via photopin cc
Too much red? It might look nice on 1st glance, but live with it everyday and it might seem a bit much.

Green foliage relaxes us. It’s even been shown that the color green facilitates creative performance.

On a side note, the color red has been found to induce sexual desire in both men and women.

“Now I know why you bought those twenty red leaved barberries!”

My recommendation is to go ahead and buy a red leaf Japanese maple if you want, especially if you want to add a little excitement (hint hint, wink wink) to the backyard. But if you want to create a relaxing sanctuary, I would also consider GREEN leaf Japanese maples. Here are some of the better ones that are available.

Green leaf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)

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Looking out from under a green leaf Japanese maple

A great four season tree with an attractive form. Green leaves in the summer, with yellow to red fall color. Plant them in groups or scatter throughout the garden.

Size: 15 to 25 feet tall and wide

Zones: 5 to 9

Fall leaf color: yellow, orange and red

Choose It Because: You want a natural looking four season plant with good fall color.

Beni Kawa (Acer palmatum ‘Beni kawa’)

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Ben Kawa green leaf Japanese maple

This green leaf Japanese maple features small leaves that turn golden-yellow in fall. In winter, the plant really shines because of its red stems. The bark is usually redder in winter compared to the salmon color of its more famous cousin ‘Sango kaku’. They look great against a back drop of snow.

Size: It matures to 12-15′ tall and wide.

Zones: 5-9

Fall leaf color: golden yellow

Choose It Because: You want a four season plant with winter interest and good fall color.

Coral Bark (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’)

photo credit: mahlness via photopin cc

A good-sized tree with multi-season appeal, ‘Sango-kaku’ features green leaves that turn brilliant yellow in fall. The leaves are lime green in spring darkening in the summer. After the leaves drop, the stems show off a bright coral-red color. The more sun the tree gets in winter the better the bark color will be.

Size: 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide

Zones: 5-8

Choose It Because: You want winter interest.

Fern leaf or Dancing Peacock (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’)

Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’

I think this is one of the best green leaf Japanese maples for fall color. It offers deeply cut, almost ferny green foliage. A small to medium size tree ‘Aconitifolium’ can be slow growing and benefits from a little afternoon shade in the south. Fall color is brilliant red.

Name: Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’

Size: 10 feet tall and wide. More upright when young, eventually forms a rounded top tree.

Zones: 5-8

Choose It Because: You want a small tree with AWESOME fall color.

Vitifolium (Acer japonicum ‘Vitifolium’)

photo credit: Kathy__ via photopin cc
Close of of summer leaf photo credit: rojabro via photopin cc
Vitifolium color in fall

A larger green leaf Japanese maple with vigorous growth. This variety offers wide, deep green leaves. The leaves are as big as your hand. Rich fall color comes early and fast. Good fall color even in warmer climates. Produces hanging clusters of showy, purple/red flowers in late spring. The flowers stand out among the maples.

Size: 25 feet tall and wide

Zones: 4b-9

Choose It Because: You want a Japanese maple that tolerates cold or warm weather well and gives consistently good fall color even in the south.

Green Cascade (Acer japonicum ‘Green Cascade’)

Green cascade Japanese maple in fall color

This full moon maple has finely cut green foliage and a delicate weeping habit. If not staked, it forms a flowing mound of foliage. In fall, the leaves turn shades of red and orange.

Size: Groundcover to 10 feet or more

Zones: 5-7

Choose It Because: You need a good weeping variety.

If you would like to learn more about the many types of Japanese Maples available there are two books that I would recommend, Japanese Maples: The Complete Guide to Selection and Cultivation* and Timber Press Pocket Guide to Japanese Maples*. The first one is the encyclopedia of Japanese maples, the second is a smaller, less detailed, and cheaper.

Oh by the way, I am thinking about changing my head shot to this:

What do you think?

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