Japanese Maple Tree

I know our local UPS man sold out the maple trees two week-ends in a row, So I thought I would do a little research on our trees and share with everyone. I have planted my trees in pots and am going to try my hand at Bonsais.
Acer palmatum ‘Inaba Shidare’
One of the best lace leaf cultivars for hotter climates, it’s name means “like the cascading leaves of the rice plant” and has been grown since at least the mid 1800s in Japan. The leaves in early spring are very dark purple and I have heard them described as almost black. As summer approaches they become more red, then turning bronze before being one of the last maples in our gardens to finally give in to the Georgia heat and turn green. Fall color is usually bright fiery red. Some people consider the cultivars ‘Inaba shidare’ and ‘Red Select’ to be the same but they are not, these cultivars are very different. ‘Inaba Shidare’ grows much more vigorously, tolerates more sun in hotter climates and is not nearly as pendulous as ‘Red Select’. The color changes during the seasons do not match either. A lot of plants available in the trade labeled ‘Inaba shidare’ do not seem to be either variety.
Common Name: Japanese maple
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Sapindaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 6 to 10 feet
Spread: 8 to 15 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Color: Red
Bloom Description: Red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flowers: Flowers not Showy
Leaves: Colorful, Good Fall Color
Tolerates: Black Walnuts, Rabbits
Uses: Street Tree

Easily grown in moist, organically rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Grows well in sandy loams. May be grown in full sun in the northern parts of its growing range, but prefers some part afternoon shade in the southern parts (including St. Louis) of its growing range. New foliage may scorch in full sun locations in hot summers areas, particularly if soils are not kept consistently moist. Mulch helps retain soil moisture and keep roots cool. Avoid hot and dry sites. Site in locations protected from strong winds. Pruning is best kept to a minimum, but if needed should be done in late fall to mid winter. Spring or summer pruning often results in significant bleeding.
Noteworthy Characteristics

‘Inaba-shidare’ is a dissected Japanese maple that typically grows in an upright, rounded but cascading form to 4-6′ tall over the first ten years, eventually maturing to 10′ tall and to 12′ or more wide. It is noted for its lace-like foliage that emerges deep purple in spring, matures to purple-red by summer and finally turns bright red in fall. Palmate, 7-lobed, purple-red leaves (to 6″ long) are deeply cut and dissected. Small reddish flowers in spring are somewhat attractive on close inspection, but are not showy from a distance.

No serious insect or disease problems. Potential disease problems include stem canker, leaf spots, fusarium, verticillium wilt, botrytis, anthracnose and root rots. Potential insect pests include aphids, scale, borers and root weevils. Mites may be troublesome. Foliage tends to leaf out early in spring and is subject to damage from late spring frosts. Chlorosis may occur in high pH soils.
Garden Uses

Japanese maples are generally grown for their attractive foliage and shape. Specimen/accent or group around the home or yard or patio or periphery of the border or rock garden. Good sun-dappled under-story tree. Somewhat cascading form can be showcased by planting his cultivar near a pond or water garden. Can be effective in containers.


  1. Toni Chandler:


    The McCormick Garden Club is offering Bobbex a deer repellent that has proven to be very effective. Apply directly on leaf, stem and flower surfaces. Safe for people, pets, plants, wildlife and acquatic life. Provides some additional protection from effects of late spring and early fall frosts by reducing cell damage. It is available in a 32 oz Ready To Use spray for $18.00; NEW – Gal. Pre Mixed Ready to Use for $40.00; 32 oz. Qt. Concentrate for $30.00; and a 1/2 Gal Concentrate for $50.00. Protect your investment and spray those shrubs and flowers. “Plants Thrive & Survive” with … BOBBEX Tm. Contact Toni Chandler, 391-5684 or email at chandlergolf@wctel.net.

    Toni Chandler
    McCormick Garden Club

  2. mike:

    Mrs. Theresa,
    I don’t know much at all about bonsai; But, some people confuse container growing the dwarf variety Japanese maples with the actual bonsai itself.
    I do think that growing your dwarf dissectum maples in containers offers a few advantages, like being able to move them freely throughout the season, until you have decided on the “perfect spot”; Or, to be able to move them around to avoid heat stress in late summer.
    But, the downside to container grown maples is that you have to pay much more attention to their watering needs more often than you would if they were planted in your landscape/garden. Obviously, maples in an above ground container tend to heat up and dry out quicker, and may need watering more often. Those planted in the garden can thrive without having to be watered nearly as often.
    As for pruning them; I usually let our maples here show their own natural growing habit. But, sometimes one may have a streaming branch a little too long, that requires some pruning; And, light pruning between the nodes can be done year round. But, any heavy pruning should probably wait until late November, or December.
    Happy Gardening !

  3. mike:

    One of the huge advantages that Acer palmatum “Orangeola” gives over the other red dissectum (lace leaf) Japanese maple varieties, is that it has a much harder weeping, cascading habit; more so than Inaba Shidare, Crimson Queen, or Tamukeyama.
    It is true that Orangeola doesn’t get as dark red; even if grown in full sun. And, by late summer it does require some late afternoon shading to avoid leaf tip burn; But, it’s very pendulous branching makes it a great garden accent tree.
    Other red dissectums that offer much deeper red to even purple-red colorations are Red Filigree (often called Ruby Lace) and Red Dragon; However, both of these 2 cultivars are very slow growing compared to the other red dissectums.

    • Hi Mike, do you know if “Orangeola” will make a good Bonsai tree as I have potted two of them. They are bigger pots then usual for a Bonsai. I just want to be able to keep them on the deck with my other flowering plants. Also, you sound so knowledgeable, is there a special way to prune them and when do we do this?

  4. bridget britton:

    You mentioned Inaba Shidare as being a very good cultivar for tolerating our high heat in this ag zone 7b/8a; but, Acer Palmatum “Tamukeyama” is also a very nice Japanese maple cultivar and probably even more tolerate than Inaba Shidare for our high heat and humidity by July and August.
    The photo of your maple in your landscape is stunning, but, I think that the variety that is shown in your photo is probably Acer Palmatum “Orangeola”. It is a much more agressive growing variety of the red dissectums, but, it doesn’t get nearly as dark red as the Inaba Shidare or Tamukeyama, and; Orangeola does very much require late afternoon shade to avoid leaf scorch.
    What a beautiful view overlooking the lake !!


    • Theresa Bryan:

      Hi there, Theresa Bryan here. Thank you so much for your information. We purchased the trees from Steve, our UPS man. I was not sure what variety we purchased so thank you for your observation and knowledge. Did Steve get the trees from you and if so, will we be able to purchase the ones that get firery red? This is my favorite tree and have never had one before. Also, if you send me your information I would be glad to add it to our service directory. If you need to reach me I am at 864-443-2220 and again thanks for you comments. .PS. Feel free to write on the blog anytime about all the wonderful trees and plants we can grow in South Carolina.

  5. Steve:

    These are two web sites we use for information.www.dunelanenursery and http://www.lanpalmnursery both in North Augusta. I hope this helps

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