Category Archives: Japanese Maples

Red Dragon Lace Leaf

Last year my family and I took a trip to Washington state. Our awesome niece was getting married. There are quite a few pictures in the gallery that I took on that trip.

Anyway, I saw several Red dragon lace leafs maples there. Man they were awesome! Of course with all of the moisture there everything grows abundantly. It got me looking them up on the internet and wondering how they might do in Colorado. I found they could grow in zone hardiness 5 but Colorado can get very cold in the winters and very hot a dry in the summer.

Japanese red dragon mapleWho wouldn’t want one of these, right? So I bought one. They were 40% off at the local garden center last fall so, why not? Keep in mind though, many local garden centers will sell you just about anything. It may grow in your area for the season but it may not make it through the winter. Do your homework and ask a lot of questions.

As winter approached I worried that the tree would not make it through the snow and cold. I piled mulch around the tree just about to the first branch. Through the winter it looked pretty crusty. You know, kind of like a plant or tree does when it dies and becomes a stick.. HA! It really looked like a stick when a cold, hungry rabbit ate all the branches off on night. I thought it was a goner for sure.

I visited the maple this morning and those little red nobs that have been forming the past couple of weeks have begun to bloom. Sweet! Looks like we made it through the toughest season. This tree will only get stronger now and needs to be fertilized. Remember, don’t just buy a plant or tree because your local nursery has it there. Do your homework.

IMG_0302A Stick!

   IMG_0303 A stick with new buds!


Great news, my stick with buds has now leafed out. I am happy that it survived it’s first winter and the rabbit massacre. Although the branching has been set back to before I bought it, it will now begin it’s journey to grow and branch out.

Dragon Laceleaf

Once I was confident that I could grow certain Japanese maples, I went ahead and purchased a few more for the yard. 

 A.P. BloodgoodI found two A.P Bloodgoods at Walmart for $15.00 each. I know, Walmart? Yep, and even though the graft is high and very poorly done this is still an A.P bloodgood and it will frow out. Once the tree grows and the trunk thickens I will be able to do some grinding on the graft and make it look decent. These two will  never be bonsai but will make great landscape trees.

I also purchased one A.P. Sangokaku Coral Bark Japanese Maple. This one was not purchased from Walmart and was much more expensive however well worth it! The Sangokaku will also remain a landscape tree and will make an excellent addition.

Sangokaku Maple I have staked it to keep a leader growing vertical and to allow several branches to grow outward.


Sherwood Japanese Maple

Early 2013, about the same time I picked up the Blue Star Juniper I also picked up this Japanese maple. I was so excited I brought it home, repotted, and wired it up all in one night. When I say I wired it up, I mean,,, yeah the whole tree.

Maple 4-1-2013 If you take a close look you will see this poor tree was wired from head to toe. Hey, I didn’t know any better. HA! To funny. Anyway, if you notice how closely the wire is wrapped along the trunk. This is much to close. Also, it lacks the 45 degree angle that wire should be placed at. There are times when wiring this close and tight might be needed. Such as when moving a large branch. The extra support might be needed however, there are more techniques that can be done for this.  I learned that not only had I done to much to this tree at once but I had also wired it incorrectly. I removed the wire shortly after this picture was taken.

Now, Japanese maples need winter protection in my region. Colorado is considered a 5 for grow regions. We can reach -20 here. We also have very high ultraviolet rays. Luckily I have a green house and I allow this tree and several others such as my Paracanthia, Chinese elm and redwoods to get down to the high 30’s to low 40’s during the winter. This allows them a good dormant period however keeps them from freezing. I will touch on the other trees on another page.

During the summer the tree will need protection from the afternoon sun rays. These will scorch the leaves in my region and may heat the pot and therefore the roots to a dangerous temperature.

Now on to more lessons learned. One of the problems with trying to cram as munch info as I could into that coconut between my shoulders is that I began to pinch out each center inter node as it appeared on the branches. You will and probably should read this in your research. This is done for ramification. Also, I was pruning back to 1 to 2 leaves once my branches reached 5 leaves. Again, this is for a mush more mature tree. Again, if you look at the above picture, this tree has hardly any structure.

Moving on, regardless of all of my false practices my Japanese maple lived. Not only did it live but it made it through the winter. I began heating the greenhouse up slowly in March and although evenings in March can be frome freezin to 50 degrees keeping the greenhouse at a constant temp allowed for the tree to come out of dormancy and begin to bloom.

I have not pruned the tree at all and already it is blossoming into a wonderful tree. The only thing I am doing is wiring the young branches after the new leaves harden off. This allows me to give good shaping to the young pliable branches before they become to stiff.

Also, you will notice that I removed the tree from the small bonsai pot and placed it back into a larger nursery container. This will allow the roots, trunk and branches to thicken up.

Japanese Maple 4-2014I will continue to let this tree grow throughout the 2014 season. Stay tuned for summer pictures.