Create a focal point in your garden with Japanese maples, our ‘Plant of the Moment’ for April.

The perfect choice of tree for any small, compact or courtyard garden, these plants are perfect for brightening a shaded corner, or elegantly overhanging a pool or water feature.

Many acers are commonly called Japanese maples, but their parents could be derived from several different species including Acer japonicum, Acer palmatum, Acer shirasawanum or others. Among them are some extremely slow-growing forms, with trees remaining a small, manageable size without the need for regular pruning.

The natural shape and growing habit of branches make Japanese maples an ideal choice of small tree for gardens or growing in large patio pots. Their leaf shapes, sizes and colours vary immensely. Many have a broad palm shape, but these are often divided and dissected into the most delicate and intricate forms. Add to this their wide range of colours, from deep greens to yellow, gold, purple or even variegated patterns and you have immense variety to choose from.

Japanese maples put on a show right through the year, starting as soon as foliage unfurls in spring and continuing until their autumn transformation into shades of gold and bronze before they eventually fall.

With dozens of marvellous Japanese maples available from nurseries and garden centres you’ll be spoilt for choice when picking one to add a little maple magic to your garden.

Top maples for any garden

  • Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’  
  • Acer palmatum ‘Sango-Kaku’
  • Golden Shirasawanum maple  (Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’))

Top tips

1. Choose a sheltered site where trees are protected from late spring frosts, cold winds and scorching summer sun.

2. Maples prefer well-drained soil containing plenty of compost to lock in moisture and ensure the ground never dries out.

3. Spread a deep mulch of leaf-mould, compost or shredded bark over the soil around maples to retain moisture and reduce annual weed growth.

Planting partners for Japanese maples

Try combining maples with other plants and features and ornaments to create areas with Oriental charm. However, Japanese maples should not be smothered by neighbouring plants, so always give them space to flourish. A few to try are ferns, hostas, bamboo, azaleas and camellias.

Visit www.hta.org.uk/plantofthemoment for more information and to download the media pack which features: plant information for each month including top plants, tips and companion plant ideas, high and low resolution photos, plus Point-of-Sale samples from Floramedia and Hortipak.

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