Japanese maples can either decorate a lawn, or look great outside the house, decking out a patio, or a pond. They can fit perfectly into the interior of a living-room or a hall. Japanese maples are very popular in landscape design. They can be used in the gardens of Chinese and Japanese styles, as well as simply dress the entrance to the house.
For historical reasons, Japanese maples have become a symbol of the art of Japanese gardens. Japanese breeders have been breeding amazingly beautiful trees, such as the Japanese maples, for centuries. As a result, they have become synonymous with elegance and perfection.
These days, one of the most famous and popular species is the Japanese Maples Acer ‘Palmatum Atropurpureum’, with dark-purple leaves that are preserved all summer. Another interesting variety of Japanese maples are maples with the heads in the form of tented roofs.
Many types of Japanese maples are grown in containers that are used for bonsai.
Advantages of Breeding by Seedlings
With seed reproduction, Japanese maples do not always keep those fantastic decorative properties of the parent plant. This is why reproduction is often performed by cutting, vaccination, and mutation on tissue cultures. There are varieties of Japanese maples, which are grown exclusively in Japan.
If a gardener wants to plant a Japanese maple of a certain type, it is better to buy a seedling, since he can visualize the tree properties and imagine it fully-grown. Be warned though, as the seedling may change its appearance while growing.
What kinds of Japanese maples can be sold? What properties do they have? And where can they grow?
The growing conditions of all Japanese maples kinds vary, depending on the shape, color, and size of the tree plus the configurations of the leaves. Some Japanese maples love the sun, while others are optimum in the shade. The root system of the Japanese maple is not large. Therefore, it can be planted close to other trees, not far from the house, along the wayside, or even near fences. Japanese maples do not like excess fertilizers. They grow in loose, moist, and acidic soils with pH of 5.5-6.5.
Popular Varieties of Japanese Maples
Japanese maples ‘Kiyohime’ reach a height of 4-6ft (1.2-1.8m) when fully-grown. They have green, divided leaves with a red border. This is a slow-growing bush, and it prefers shaded places. It can be grown in zones 6-9.
‘Aka Shigitatsu Sawa’ has pinkish, divided leaves with green veins. This tree is 8-10ft (2.4-3.0 m) in length, and it can be grown in USDA zones 6 8. It prefers either full sun or delicate shade.
‘Wilson's Pink Dwarf’ is a shrub, 8ft (2.5 m) in height and 5ft (1.5 m) in width. In autumn, the fan-shaped leaves become orange on dark red cuttings. This is a compact plant that grows well both in the sun and in partial shade. Japanese maples of this variety can withstand frosts of 5 F (-15 C).
Planting Japanese maples is done the same way as with any other decorative or fruit trees.
Diseases and Pests of Japanese Maples
Japanese maples are subject to fungal diseases. Therefore, it is necessary to know all about them.
Verticillium Wilt: the leaves on the young shoots of Japanese maple begin to wrinkle and the branches simply dry out. The disease affects young plants which haven’t ripened their wood yet, or those with fungal diseases.
If Japanese maples do not get enough moisture, they become sick with black bark mold, which leads to the plant’s death. The disease is caused by the fungus Cryptostroma.
Sometimes the leaves of the Japanese maples are affected with a powdery mildew of Uncinula.
Measures to Control the Diseases of Japanese Maples
In the spring, Japanese maples are affected by various diseases, which remain in a state of rest until leaves appear. Thus, it is necessary to cut away the dead branches of a healthy wood. The garden tools should be disinfected after each cut. In the summer, it is a must to regularly inspect the leaves and the bark of plants. If there are signs of any disease, it is necessary to use various medications to manage it. Fungal diseases are usually combated with the help of preparations that contain sulfur.
Some insect pests also attack Japanese maples, for example, aphids, Anoplophora glabripennis and others. For pest control, it is important to use Dimethoate 4EC, a systemic insecticide with garden oil (according to the instructions), which should be sprayed over the leaves on both sides.
Preventive Measures for Managing Healthy Japanese Maples
Japanese maples are less susceptible to diseases and insect pests if growing in ventilated areas. Excess nitrogen fertilizers contribute to the weakening of the Japanese maples and their infestation by aphids. The heads are periodically thinned for better ventilation of either the tree or the bush.
For ecological pest management, it’s useful to attract predatory insects into the garden; for instance, parasitic wasps, lacewings and others.
Japanese maples are so beautiful that the act of caring for their cultivation does not burden the gardeners, who successfully use them in landscape design.