How big does a Japanese maple get?

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When selecting a Japanese maple, it’s essential to consider the available space and the desired effect in your garden. Whether you opt for a compact dwarf variety or a majestic larger cultivar, these trees are renowned for their exquisite beauty and ability to enhance any landscape. But how big can they get once fully grown?

Well, Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) vary widely in size, with different varieties exhibiting different growth habits. They can range from very small, compact dwarf shrubs measuring as little as 1.5 feet to large, multi-stemmed trees of over 25 feet. Here’s a general overview of the size range for Japanese maples:

  1. Dwarf and Miniature Varieties: These delightful Japanese maples are the smallest in size, typically reaching heights of only a few feet at maturity. They are perfect for small gardens, container planting, bonsai enthusiasts, and rock gardens. These compact beauties add a touch of elegance and color without overwhelming the space.
  2. Small to Medium-Sized Varieties: This category includes a wide range of Japanese maples that grow between 6 to 15 feet in height at maturity. These varieties are incredibly versatile and well-suited for landscaping, particularly in smaller spaces. They can be used as focal points, specimen trees, or even planted in groups to create a stunning display. With their graceful form and vibrant foliage, they bring a sense of tranquility and beauty to any garden.
  3. Medium to Large Varieties: Japanese maples in this size range can reach heights of 15 to 25 feet at maturity. These varieties are often chosen as focal points in larger landscapes or as shade trees. With their larger size, they create a more substantial presence and can provide shade and shelter to the surrounding area. Their striking foliage and branching structure make them a captivating addition to any garden design.
  4. Very Large Varieties: While less common, there are a few Japanese maple cultivars that can grow even taller, occasionally exceeding 25 feet in height. These larger varieties are less frequently seen but can make a dramatic statement in spacious gardens or park-like settings. Due to their mature size, they require ample space to allow their grandeur to shine.

Here is a table summarizing the information about various Japanese maple varieties and their sizes at maturity:

VarietyHeight at Maturity
Bloodgood30 feet
Crimson Queen6 feet
Tamuke yama (Tamukeyama)12 feet
Fireglow15 feet
Burgundy Lace18 feet
Crimson Leaf Aratama6 feet
Ariake Nomura12 feet
Atrolineare12 feet
Azuma Murasaki18 feet
Beni Kagami24 feet
Beni Komachi9 feet
Beni tsukasa15 feet
Beni ubi gohon6 feet
Chitose yama10 feet
Hessei15-18 feet
Matsukaze12-14 feet
Moonfire20 feet
Shaina9 feet
Shin deshojo12 feet
Beni maiko10 feet
Hanami Nishiki25 feet
Arakawa25 feet
Beni hoshi24 feet
Chishio Improved6-10 feet
Coonara Pygmy4.5 feet
Corallinum<9 feet
Jiro share6 feet
Jiro shidare10 feet
KamagataFew feet tall
Kiyo hime6 feet
Koto maru5-6 feet
Kurabu yama12-15 feet
Mama12-15 feet
Okushimo20-25 feet
Orange Dream10-14 feet
Osakazuki20-25 feet
Oto hime8-10 feet
RyuzuUnknown
Saotome12 feet
Shino buga oka12-16 feet
Shishigashira15 feet
Tana18-20 feet
Tsuma beni10 feet
Yuri himeDwarf

Please note that the actual sizes may vary depending on growing conditions, care, and location. It’s always a good idea to research and consult with local experts before planting specific varieties.

Growth rates and ultimate sizes can be influenced by factors such as growing conditions, soil quality, climate, and pruning practices. Additionally, some varieties have weeping or cascading growth habits, which can affect their overall size and shape.

When selecting a Japanese maple for your garden, consider the available space, the desired aesthetic, and the specific growth characteristics of the variety you’re interested in. If you’re unsure about the mature size of a particular variety, it’s always a good idea to consult with a local nursery or horticultural expert for guidance.

How much space do you need around a Japanese maple?

The amount of space required around a Japanese maple depends on its ultimate size and the desired aesthetic effect. It’s crucial to give these magnificent trees enough room to grow and thrive, allowing their graceful branches and vibrant foliage to shine. Let’s explore some general guidelines:

  1. Dwarf and Miniature Varieties: These petite beauties typically require a smaller amount of space. For dwarf and miniature Japanese maples, providing a radius of about 3 to 5 feet around the tree is usually sufficient. This space allows the tree to develop its natural form and ensures that it won’t be crowded by other plants or structures.
  2. Small to Medium-Sized Varieties: Japanese maples in the small to medium size range benefit from a bit more breathing room. Allowing a radius of 6 to 10 feet around the tree ensures that its branches can gracefully spread out and showcase their elegant form. This space also provides ample room for the tree to receive adequate sunlight and air circulation.
  3. Medium to Large Varieties: As Japanese maples in this size range can grow taller and wider, they require a more generous amount of space. Providing a radius of 10 to 15 feet or more around the tree allows it to reach its full potential without being cramped. This space also ensures that the tree doesn’t overshadow or compete with nearby plants or structures.
  4. Very Large Varieties: For the rare and majestic very large Japanese maple cultivars, even more space is needed. These towering trees require a radius of 15 to 20 feet or more to accommodate their size and grandeur. It’s important to consider their mature height and spread when planning their placement in the landscape.

How long does it take for a Japanese maple to grow to full size?

Japanese maples are generally slow-growing trees and can take several years to reach their full size. Most species grow at a slow to moderate rate of 1 to 2 feet per year. They tend to grow fastest when they are young and slow down as they reach maturity.

If you want an established look right from the start, you can choose to plant an older, larger maple rather than a young one that may take years to mature. Alternatively, you can select a cultivar that is known for being a faster-than-average grower

How do you keep a Japanese maple small?

Pruning is an essential technique to control the size and shape of a Japanese maple tree. When pruning, focus on removing specific branches rather than indiscriminately cutting back the entire tree. Selectively prune branches that are growing too vigorously or in undesirable directions.

When pruning, consider the central leader, which is the main vertical stem of the tree. Removing the central leader can help keep the tree smaller. However, it’s important to maintain a central leader as the uppermost point of an established plant to create a focal point.

Thinning out the branches of the Japanese maple tree also creates an open and airy appearance. This can help reduce the overall size of the tree. However, avoid removing more than one-fifth of the crown, more than a quarter of the foliage on any given branch, or branches that are more than half the diameter of the parent stem

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