Plant of the Sea­son Ja­panese maple (Acer pal­ma­tum)

This England - - News -

Grown in Ja­pan for hun­dreds of years, the first spec­i­men came to Eng­land in 1820. Since then th­ese small trees have be­come a very pop­u­lar gar­den plant as their grace­ful shape and vibrant au­tumn foliage make them an ideal fo­cal point. To­day there are nu­mer­ous cul­ti­vars with dif­fer­ent shapes, sizes and colours of leaves.

Plant in the au­tumn in well drained and slightly acidic soil. The foliage is prone to frost and wind dam­age so it is best to pro­vide shel­ter. The red and pur­ple va­ri­eties do need sun to de­velop the colour while the var­ie­gated and green need par­tial shade to avoid scorch­ing. They work well in a bor­der be­cause their root sys­tem isn’t in­va­sive but make sure they aren’t crowded. Keep them moist but not wa­ter­logged and mulch with well-rot­ted ma­nure, en­sur­ing that the ma­nure doesn’t come into con­tact with the col­lar of the plant.

Slow grow­ing, Ja­panese maples are also ideal for con­tain­ers but should be re­pot­ted ev­ery cou­ple of years in just a slightly larger pot. The com­post should be er­i­ca­ceous or John Innes No. 2.

There are so many va­ri­eties to choose from in­clud­ing “Blood­good” (rich pur­ple with deeply cut leaves, grows to 12ft); “Emer­ald Lace” (bright green, finely dis­sected leaves that turn orange in au­tumn, grows to 12ft), “Gar­net” (feath­ery red leaves, grows to 6ft) and “Dis­sec­tum” (cas­cad­ing habit, green, lacy leaves that turn fiery red in au­tumn, ideal for con­tain­ers).

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