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  • Writer's pictureB&K Garden & Landscape Supply

15 of the Best Varieties of Japanese Maple

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Acer Palmatum 'Waterfall'

With their exquisite foliage, captivating forms and cultural significance, Japanese maple trees (acer palmatum) have long held a special place in the hearts of both seasoned gardeners and those new to the world of horticulture. In this post, we unveil a curated selection of some of the best Japanese maple varieties, each offering a unique tapestry of colours, shapes, and textures that contribute to the symphony of nature's beauty.

We believe there's a Japanese maple for EVERY garden. Whether you're seeking a statement piece for your landscape or a delicate addition to a cozy corner, these distinguished cultivars are sure to ignite your passion for arboreal wonders and inspire your next botanical adventure.

Once you feel inspired (and we know you will after reading this post!), visit our garden centre to browse our collection of 100+ varieties of Japanese maples. Our staff will be happy to take you through our Maple Tunnel and help you choose the perfect tree for your space!

1. Abby's Weeping

This weeping laceleaf full moon maple has a delicate appearance but is a hardy tree in the landscape. In the spring, 'Abby's Weeping' leafs out with large deeply divided green leaves, then turns purple, orange and red in the fall, putting on a wonderful display.

A small low growing Japanese maple with a weeping habit, 'Abby's Weeping' may reach 2-3 ft in height by 3-4 ft in width in 10 years - making it an excellent tree for small spaces. For best results, give 'Abby's Weeping' protection from the hot afternoon sun.

Abby's Weeping

2. Autumn Fire

You won’t need a fire extinguisher for this ‘Autumn Fire’ but it will warm your landscape with colour.

This low-growing pendulous tree forms into a small bell shape with intricate branching. Typically reaching around 5' tall by 6' wide, this maple has a faster growth rate than most lace leaf selections.

‘Autumn Fire’ is very heat tolerant and easily adapts to most conditions. The spring colour is a lush full shade of green but the splendour of ‘Autumn Fire’ is seen as the summer green is replaced by fiery shades of yellows, oranges and reds.

Autumn Fire

3. Bloodgood

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' is a renowned cultivar cherished for its striking foliage with burgundy red colouring that turns brilliant scarlet in fall. The interesting red-black bark provides striking interest in winter.

This slender, airy tree is well-suited for use as a small lawn tree or for patios and entryways. One of the hardiest of Japanese maples, with good sun tolerance.


4. Crimson Queen

An incredibly popular tree, ‘Crimson Queen’ is a dwarf A. palmatum cultivar.

It’s wider than it is tall, eventually growing to about eight feet tall and 12 feet wide, with elegantly weeping branches. Its shape can add some interesting dimension to your garden.

The foliage can appear to have a different hue depending on the amount of light it receives. In partial sun, the lacy leaves are maroon. In spots that receive more light, the colour is a brighter red. In the fall, the foliage becomes a dazzling crimson.

Crimson Queen

5. Emmett's Pumpkin

Acer palmatum 'Emmett's Pumpkin' is a captivating variety that truly lives up to its name. This unique cultivar boasts leaves that emerge in a brilliant pumpkin-orange hue in the spring, making it an instant attention-grabber in any garden. As the seasons progress, the foliage transforms into a warm blend of golden-yellow and vibrant orange, creating a stunning visual display. 'Emmett's Pumpkin' maintains its striking colour throughout the summer, eventually transitioning to shades of crimson and scarlet in the fall.

With its compact size (12-15 ft at its full maturity) and distinct colour spectrum, this maple is an exceptional choice for adding a touch of autumnal warmth and charm to landscapes and gardens.

Emmett's Pumpkin

6. Garnet

‘Garnet’ is pendulous dissectum Japanese maple known for its brilliant colour. This weeping red Japanese maple emerges in the spring with one of the deepest shades of maroon. The late fall colour has a vivid purple-red. ‘Garnet’ is a vigorous grower and has a great umbrella like shape. This red Japanese maple can reach 5-6 ft over time and grows slightly wider than it does tall.

‘Garnet’ is a very popular tree that adds a spark of colour and great shape to any garden.


7. Green Cascade

A. japonicum ‘Green Cascade’ is an upright full moon maple that grows in Zones 5 to 7, and reaches about 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide.

With rounded and palmate foliage, somewhat resembling a fern, the deeply lobed and heavily serrated emerald green leaves turn bright red and yellow in the fall.

In the garden, the effect is extremely impressive. It’s almost like having a massive, shade-providing fern in your garden.

Green Cascade

8. Higasayama

While Japanese maples tend to really shine in the fall when their foliage turns to a different hue, ‘Higasayama’ also puts on an elegant display in the spring. The leaves bud out with a green base enveloped in a bright pink exterior.

As the leaves open, they reveal a creamy pink display before turning deep green with creamy margins. This A. palmatum is happiest in Zones 5 to 8, with an upright, open growth habit that tops out at about 18 feet tall.


9. Hogyokou

This elegant A. palmatum is also known as the “Golden Jewel of Fall.” While ‘Hogyokou’ is beautiful all summer with its green, yellow, orange, and slightly red-tinged leaves, it’s the bright pumpkin orange colour it displays in the fall that really stands out.

This upright tree is medium-sized when mature, at about 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

This is a cultivar that does better in full sun than many others.


10. Irish Lace

‘Irish Lace’ is a beautiful, rare, weeping Japanese maple. The bright cherry-red new growth in the spring matures to a maroon, later developing in a bronze, then a green with bronze highlights for the summer. The cherry red new growth appears again in the summer during the second flush of growth starting this wonderful cycle of colors all over again. In the fall, ‘Irish Lace’ begins as a bright yellow later turning to a bold orange.

‘Irish Lace’ has a mounding and cascading habit similar to other lace leaf Japanese maples reaching 3-4' in height by 5-6' in width in 10 years. For best colour on ‘Irish Lace’, allow morning-mid day sun with protection from the hot afternoon sun.

Irish Lace

11. Osakazuki

For fall colour, it’s hard to beat ‘Osakazuki.’ This A. palmatum tree has intensely bright orange-scarlet leaves in the autumn that stay on the tree for several weeks.

In spring and summer, the leaves are bright green. Each leaf has seven lobes and serrated edges. Best suited to Zones 5 to 8, it grows up to 25 feet tall and 15 feet wide with an upright, rounded shape.

‘Osakazuki’ won the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit in 1993.


12. Sango-Kaku (Coral Bark Maple)

A. palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’ is a striking Japanese maple with bright coral bark. Its name means “coral tower.” The colour becomes more intense as the seasons become cooler.

Hardy in Zones 5 to 8, the leaves on this tree are bright green with red margins in the summer, turning brilliant yellow in the fall. Once mature, this striking tree stands with an upright habit at 20 to 25 feet tall.

‘Sango Kaku’ is ideal if you want something that not only adds colour to the yard during the growing season, but also during the dormant winter months.


13. Twombley's Red Sentinel

Acer palmatum 'Twombly's Red Sentinel' is a remarkable cultivar that stands out for its elegant, upright growth habit. Its distinctive feature lies in its vibrant foliage, which showcases a rich display of deep red tones throughout the growing season.

This compact and columnar tree offers a stunning visual focal point in any landscape, making it an excellent choice for smaller spaces or as an accent plant.

Twombley's Red Sentinel

14. Viridis

If you want a lacy, green A. palmatum Japanese maple that you can grow in a container or a small area, ‘Viridis’ is an excellent choice.

It only grows to 6' tall and wide, but can easily be pruned to stay about 4' tall and 3' wide. Its growth habit is a gracefully mounding cascade.

The foliage is deeply lobed with heavily toothed margins in a marvellous deep shade of green that transitions to orange, yellow, and red in the autumn.


15. Waterfall

This improved selection makes an extremely attractive garden or patio tree. It displays beautifully cascading branches with large, finely cut green leaves and golden fall colour.

A choice small tree for garden accents and containers in full to part sun in cool climates, dappled or afternoon shade in extremely hot areas.


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