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14 Types of Japanese Maple Trees that Stand Out from the Crowd

maple tree

The Japanese maple is a popular addition to any yard or garden. The bright foliage of many maple varieties throws a splash of brilliant red into any green landscape. Did you know there are male and female types, and if you plant both in your garden, beautiful saplings will grow every year? Planting just one or the other often keeps the little ones at bay. The 14 varieties of Japanese maples that stand out from the crowd are listed in this article. Find one that will provide their unique size, shape, and color to enhance your garden, patio, or home.

Hardiness Regions in the USA

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The 14 Types of Japanese Maple Trees that Stand Out

1. Bloodgood Maple Tree

Bloodgood Japanese Maple
Image Credit: Marie Shark, Shutterstock
USDA Hardiness Region: 5 – 8
Sun: Full Sun – Partial Shade
Placement: Small Yards and Patios

The Bloodgood gets its species and phylum name (Acer Palmatum Atropurpurem) from its widespread and twenty-foot maxim growth height. One of the most popular of all the Japanese Maple cultivars, the deep purple-red leaves will turn a bright red in the fall. The overall size and shape of the plant are slender and small, making it perfect for small yard spaces or patio edging. The leaves turn greener in direct sunlight. This Japanese maple is one of the hardiest varieties of the many cultivars and can be in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. It can have a wide dome and spread and does not grow very tall. But this tree can be a focal point for any garden or around the yard. It is very hardy for temperate climates and USDA regions recommend it for all parts of the country, except very cold or hot zones.

Pros Say: This variety of Japanese maple can double in size in the first five years. The Bloodgood responds well to pruning.

2. Coonara Pygmy Maple Tree

USDA Hardiness Region: 6 – 9
Sun: Full Sun – Partial Shade
Placement: Containers and Small Gardens

For a tree, this dwarf variety of Coonara Pygmy Japanese maple only grows between 3 to 6 feet tall. It was cultivated from “Witches’ Brooms,” growing out of another type of Japanese maple, and became popular. It is hardy in warmer climates, and is notable for its bright green leaves that turn pink in spring. It is a deciduous tree that loves sunlight. The leaves are a big part of the draw to this dwarf Japanese maple, a notable aspect of the plant. The bright green leaves develop pale pink along the edges in the spring, and turning orange and yellow with red edging for fall. A rainbow of colors in a small package. The overall effect is a bushy-ness that most trees born of Witches’ Brooms develop.

Pros Say: Regular watering and moist soil help this variety of Japanese maple thrive.

3.  Autumn Moon Maple Tree

autumn moon maple tree
Image Credit: Chatichai yipa, Shutterstock
USDA Hardiness Region: Lower 4a – 8
Sun: Light to Moderate Shade
Placement: Small Yards and Large Containers

The blended colors of the leaves of the nine lobe Acer Shirasawanum leaves, commonly called Autumn Moon, stand out from the crowd. There are thousands of cultivars of Japanese maples, many that are particular to individuals and their tastes. The Autumn Moon really stands out as an example of careful cultivation. This deciduous tree leafs out in spring, producing a burnt orange tint to the leaf edges, with green interior color. The colors all intensify during summer, in careful sunlight, and even sometimes in colder climates, if the tree is protected. A powerful addition to the garden or planting that needs some deeper colors. This Japanese maple fits the bill as a complement to flowers and shrubs. On the patio and in large containers, as a slow-growth tree, the Autumn Moon is perfect for a year-round splash of color.

Pros Say: Keep this beautiful tree in rich moist soil, but not to wet. It must be well drained to grow.

4.  Garnet Maple Tree

Lace leaf Japanese Maple
Image Credit: Max_555, Shutterstock
USDA Hardiness Region: 5 – 8
Sun: Light to Moderate Shade
Placement: Great for Gardens

The Garnet, or Acer palmatum Dissectum , is a lacey-leaf covered dome Japanese maple of the smaller variety. This hardy grower likes to expand, and develop a thick cascading dome of leaves, making it the perfect focal point to any home planting or garden. The foliage remains red during the entire growing season, then turning green in late summer, to an outstanding red in fall. The foliage can become almost black with good tending and care.

Pros Say: This plant thrives in an acidic soil, which is rich and well drained.

5.  Red Dragon (Lace Leaf Maple)

Red Dragon maple tree
Image Credit: Nadia Yong, Shutterstock
USDA Hardiness Region: 5 – 9
Sun: Light to Moderate Shade
Placement: Great for Containers

This Japanese maple has an ever-changing leaf color, from deep purple in the spring to a brilliant red in fall. The leaves have long lobes with a strong cut between them. This dwarf maple stands out from the crowd in its sheer spectacle. Some even say that the leaves are like ferns, and with a wispy feather like form. The branches have a weeping quality that adds even more impact, accenting the brilliant reds.

Pros Say: Keep the soil moist for a couple of months after planting.

6. Wolff (Emperor One) Maple Tree

USDA Hardiness Region: 6 – 9
Sun: Sun to Mostly Shade
Placement: Small Gardens (Bonsai)

Another of the most vibrant Japanese maples is the Acer palmatum Wolff commonly called the Emperor One Japanese maple. The leaves go from a deep crimson a plum, in spring and summer to an amazingly brilliant red, with the cooler weather. This tree is an improved variety, meaning the originating tree was different in branch form and foliage spread. This is a hardy variety and stands up to frost. It looks spectacular even in the shade.

Pros Say: These hardy dwarf trees are resistant to heat and humidity

7. Sango-kaku (Coral Bark) Maple Tree

USDA Hardiness Region: 5 – 8
Sun: Light to Moderate Shade
Placement: Great for patios and small gardens

There is no other tree quite like the Acer palmatum Sango-kaku, the Coral Bark Japanese maple. The bark is a standout sensational coral to red color, and the leaves contrast in greens and pinks. The eye is drawn to its opulent colors and the way it fits neatly into smaller gardens. It is a modest maintenance breed and resists all kinds of insects. One of the hardiest of all the Japanese maples

Pros Say: The Coral Bark Japanese maple does very well in average soil, which is peaty and well-drained.

8. Viridis (Weeping) Maple Tree

USDA Hardiness Region: 5 – 9
Sun: Light to Moderate Shade
Placement: Great for containers

A real standout is the bright green weeping Viridis Japanese maple. The eye-catching small tree complements the red Japanese maples, and even has some highlights in orange and red during the fall. The branches grow in a weeping configuration giving the tree a thick dome, which flows downward toward the ground. This hardy variety would be an excellent addition to the more traditional red Japanese maples in more compact garden space, or collection. The spring blooms are red, and really make an amazing burst of color against the standout greens.

Pros Say: The Viridis is tolerant of higher humidity and grows well in warmer climates.

9. Filigree (Green or Red Lace) Maple Tree

Filigree maple tree
Image Credit: Martin Hibberd, Shutterstock
USDA Hardiness Region: 6 – 9
Sun: Light to Moderate Shade
Placement: Great for containers

Acer palmatum Filigree grow leaves in several colors, or types. Filigree Lace, Pink Filigree, Green Filigree and Red Filigree. This cultivar is known to have a long dissection between the lobes of the leaves. This gives the leaves the look of lace, or long thin fingers. It is a hardy small tree or shrub and does well in containers or in the garden. Mix the color schemes for a vibrant outstanding palate to your yard or patio.

Pros Say: The Filigree Varieties like water, but make it even moisture, regular water, not every day.

10. Waterfall Maple Tree

USDA Hardiness Region: 5 – 9
Sun: Light to Moderate Shade
Placement: Great for containers

Acer palmatum Dissectum Waterfall, grows all year long, right through winter. The fall spectacular of yellow, bronze, orange and red, turn the leaves into a cascading flow of color. The rounded dome and drooping leaves give the appearance of a waterfall, and the amazing displays of fall go right through winter. Can be a fine addition in courtyards or along pathways. The draping growth of the branches can partially cover an ornamental rock or feature, giving unique look to the landscape.

Pro Tip: In warmer climates make sure to provide some shade, in the cooler climates there can be more direct sunlight.

11. Butterfly Maple Tree

Butterfly maple tree
Image Credit: Nahhana, Shutterstock
USDA Hardiness Region: 6 – 9
Sun: Light to Moderate Shade
Placement: Great for Gardens

The variegated leaves of the Acer palmatum Butterfly make a nice cream and pink accent during the growing season. This slim and stately tree fits nicely into those small gardens and patios. The foliage is on the rare side, being variegated and feathery. The Butterfly stands out for providing serene excitement all at once. The small size and slim trunk make it a real winner for urban balcony gardens, and containers for patios and decks. Excellent plant for marking an entrance to a garden, or as the first impression growth for your patio.

Pro Tip: Loves to be watered, so don’t hold back, when watering your other plants don’t be afraid to water the Butterfly.

12. Red Select Maple Tree

red select maple tree
Image Credit: Eli Berr, Shutterstock
USDA Hardiness Region: 5 – 9
Sun: Light to Moderate Shade
Placement: Great for small plantings

The Acer palmatum Dissectum Red Select is a weeping form small tree, great for outdoor spaces, like yards and gardens. The shape and spread of the Red Select give it the traditional Japanese maple look and feel, with red flourishes all year round. This is not the Inaba Shidare variety, which so many think is synonymous with the term Japanese maple. The Red Select is the tree most used as an ornamental and can be shaped and grown into a tiers and levels so many want to use as a highlight to their gardens.

Pro Tip: Be sure to inquire as to the Red Select specifically as many times Inaba Shidare is mistakenly chosen, because the varieties are so closely aligned.

13. Geisha Gone Wild Maple Tree

USDA Hardiness Region: 6 – 9
Sun: Shade
Placement: Great for containers

A real spectacle in the realm of Japanese maples, Acer palmatum Geisha Gone Wild, is derived from the stunning geisha cultivars. The striking red foliage can become a hot pink in spring and green with speckled white in summer. The standout in any crowd is the wild look to the canopy. As the foliage ages into fall the canopy turns a bright orange and captures the eye. The best placement for this dwarf is the pots or small garden, as this is a slow growing cultivar. Hardiest in the USDA 5 – 8 growing regions. Collectors flock to this very special Japanese maple and it stands out as the ultimate crowd pleaser.

Pro Tip: Water less often but try to keep the soil moist and peaty. Sturdy enough to form a bonsai if desired.

14. Inaba Shidare Maple Tree

Inaba shidare maple tree
Image Credit: Bandersnatch, Shutterstock
USDA Hardiness Region: 5 – 9
Sun: Light to Moderate Shade
Placement: Great for Gardens

The Acer palmatum var. dissectum Inaba Shidare is the truest of crowd pleasers. There is an incredible amount of interest all year long, and it is often thought of as the quintessential Japanese maple. The dissected leaves have that distinctive feathery look and feel, that is some type of spectacular red for three seasons, and even some green interest in winter. The weeping style of branch growth makes this a visual sensation, and the crimson to scarlet reds accentuate the habit. The placements vary but be sure to place near features and water accents, as this fine specimen is what people always associate with Japan, and meditation and serenity.

Pro Tip: Good drainage is necessary when growing in an acid soil base.

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Final Thoughts: Japanese Maple Trees

We hope this list of Japanese maples helps you decide which type would go well in your gardening area or in your yard. No matter your choice, the Japanese maple will be a visually pleasing addition to any home. Before buying a Japanese maple sapling, ensure that the environment is suitable for that type.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay


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