A Small Japanese Maple Garden
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My fascination with Japanese maples goes way back and without even consciously knowing what I was doing I started collecting them. One by one I add new ones to my landscape. Not because I really wanted a collection, I just really, really liked them so every chance I got to pick up a new one I’d do so. Then one December day my wife and I went out to look at a couple of houses, not really considering ourselves currently in the market for a house, we were really just looking at floor plans and ideas, and on the spur of the moment we bought a house. In the middle of December.
At that time the Japanese maple collection that I had was not very extensive but I definitely had more in my yard than most people do. Because we hadn’t really planed to move so quickly I only had time to dig one of my Japanese maples and bring it with me. The rest stayed with the old house.
As soon as spring arrived at the new house, I really missed the landscaping I had at the old place so Pam and I went to work, re-landscaped the house and over the first two years I added a number of Japanese maples to my new landscaping. Varieties that I’d never seen before. No doubt about it I was falling in love with these magnificent trees.
Then a couple of my Backyard Nursery customers advertised a really wide selection of Japanese maples for sale in our private group so I ordered a bunch of them. Not sure how many, I just ordered some of the varieties that I was curious about. When they arrived I planted all of them in my landscaping at the end of the front porch. It was a great place for them because I spent a great deal of time on the porch, just looking over the railing admiring my little trees, marveling at how each one differed from the others. That was the beginning of what I guess you can call an obsession and an entrepreneurial experience because I have since gotten back into the nursery business and I now have thousands of Japanese maples growing in my nursery.
The photos on this page are of my small Japanese maple garden at my house. I sometimes take the help of Northwood Outdoor Services to maintain my garden.
irene michael says
how do i get started?
Monica Mathis says
How do I get started, and what do I need to get started?
Start here: http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
Autumn Blair says
I have watched you and your Japanese Maples, I as well love this tree. I have one so far. I have not had very good luck with this tree. I either burn it or something. So, I will start following more closely and hopefully I can have a collection like yours.
Debbie Wilson says
I have 4 japanese maple trees. I would love to know how to start more trees. Also, where is the best place to plant these trees, in full sun or part shade. If anybody has some that is very cheap I would love to get a couple more for my yard.
Debbie, if you are in zone 5 or 6 they can take a lot of sun, but some shade does help. You can grow them from seed, but you have to collect the seed in the fall. Of course seedlings don’t show the same beautiful characteristics as the parent plant, but if you have seedlings you can then graft to the seedlings.
Fran Button says
Mike, I do love Japanese Maples – However, we live at a 2000′ elevation in western NY, with acid, clay soil. All my beds are raised (trucked in 6 loads of farm pasture dirt) because our land is so wet. I have learned that spruce and pine love our soil. We have over 200 trees. Also, Rose of Sharon and a beautiful very blue Hydrangea that I have planted on the east side for protection. I planted my second Japanese Maple also on the same side last summer. I lost the one that I planted on the west side due to wind. Are some of your varieties of Japanese Maple more hardy than others. I will find out this spring/summer if mine will survive. I lightly pruned it in the fall after watching your video. Fran B.
Fran, many Japanese maple varieties are pretty hardy down to about zone 5. They don’t like wet soil or heavy soil. Some protection from wind will help, but most of mine are pretty much out in the open and I’m in zone 5. I’m amazed at how well the little ones do.
Sherrie Hunter says
I would love to grow and sell these gorgeous trees but wonder how they would do in SW FL?
Sherrie, Florida is not the best place for them. Pleny of other things you can grow and sell in Florida.
Will these plants survive in North-Indian climate?
If you meant to type Indiana, the answer is yes they will. check your zone, most are safe down to zone 5.
First join Mike’s mailing list he sends out great emails about gardening! Then I went to my local depot store and got a tree of each kind. Once june comes along you can make all the cuttings you want! Good Luck Irene!
Thanks Candice for the kudos about my gardening newsletter which is here: http://freeplants.com.
I also have a small Japanese Maple garden, I started it 4 years ago, My trees now are between 4 to 6 inches high.
And I’ll bet your get more enjoyment out of those little trees than people can imagine. I sure do.
Shirley Bossbach says
I am in zone 7 and we have a lot of beautiful Japanese Maples here. My mother grew them in Alabama and I got mine from her. I’ve passed them out to lots of people. Mine is out in the open, I did not know they needed shade. I have only had trouble one really dry summer and had some places die that I had to trim out but it filled in really nicely.
Shrirley, you make an excellent point. Japanese maples don’t always need shade, but sometimes it helps. But with that said, I grow mine in the field, in full sun, even when they are small. And of course some stem die back is normal and will probably happen whether they are shaded or not. All the shade really does is helps the leaves hold up better in the hot summer sun.
I’ve got a Crimson Queen in my landscape, in full sun, and by the end of the summer the edges of the lacey leaves are slightly browned. But it doesn’t harm the tree and it’s a very small price to pay to have this tree located in my landscape where I can enjoy it everyday.
Mike, which japanese maples grow good in north Alabama?. I see people growning them just trying to find which variety.
James, in Alabama your biggest concern is to much or sun that is too intense. So plant them where they get some sun and some shade. I need to reseach which varieties do the best in the warmer zones.
Your Japanese Maple garden is beautiful! I would love to grow some. Will these all be dwarf trees, or will you eventually have to move them to other locations as they get bigger?
Cheryl, they’ll get bigger but they are really slow growing. As they get larger I move them out and put smaller ones back in. It’s something that I really enjoy doing.
When do you move them out to put smaller ones in- now in dormancy or early spring just before they start to break buds”
Carrolle, it’s important that you only transplant when they are dormant. I usually move mine in the early spring when it’s still cool and the buds have yet to open. Once they leaf out they should be left alone until early winter.
I have two very old bloodgood red maples in my landscape. In the back part of the yard where the biggest one is, i have sprouted close to 75 red maples naturally. Ok so i didnt do it, i discovered them. Either way i am looking to sell them or trade. I have other plants as well. I started two dirt beds and one smaller heated sand bed. I dont think most of my cuttings will root…lack of knowledge. But i am still persistant. Mike….Thank You for helping me save my house from forclosure.
You’re right, the seedlings will grow on their own, but with a little help you could collect seeds in the fall, stratify the seeds (instructions on this site) and get really, really good at germinating them. People jump at the chance to buy them, even seedlings. Most of my customers sell the seedlings for $4.97 each in a container just a tad smaller than a number #1. Even the seeds can be sold.
keir gazelle says
I had a beautiful Japanese maple in my front yard in Maryland where I used to live..but I now live in Louisiana and I think the sun and some drought conditions in the heat of summer would be death to the maple.
Is there any tree that has the color of the maple but would survive here?
Keir, Purple Sandcherry and Crimson King maple are options, but really not close to a Japanese maple.
Donna Fay says
I would love to grow them but it doesn’t get cold enough here in the Central Valley and my yard is about the size of the flower bed you have the trees in.
jeff freeman says
mike,I really love the japenese maples too.I also would like to start a large collection of them. I would love to know the best deal I could get on a large quantity of jap. maples if you could tell me. thanks,jeff.
I live near Boulder Colorado. Do you believe any Japanese Maples would do well here? I see them around, but most don’t look like they are in good shape. Perhaps in a container?
Craig, check you hardiness zone: Zone map for the United States:
Zone map for Canada:
But I think you are probably in an ideal zone. I like to see them planted in the ground rather than a container as long as they are in well drained soil. Containers are drier during the winter which isn’t a good thing and they freeze harder, freeze and thaw more often. All not good things for plants.
So how would they far in a zone 7….. South New mexico…..Here there is altitude and water consumption issues ….not to mention a lot of sun.
Arnie, zone 7 should be almost ideal. If you plant them so they get some afternoon shade or even morning shade that would help with the intense sun. For small plants it’s easy to create artificial shade until they are established. They really don’t require nor do they like a lot of water, but during the summer it really helps to water them at least once a week.
Ty Hobson says
I will go to the site you provided about the free plants but would you please send me more unless that site has it all. Find out in a sec.
Ty, this page has all the info about getting started. http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
Alice Galvante says
I have 250 Green Japanese Maple. My Goal is to use them for grafting this year. Is Northern California a good place for this kind of project.
Alice, right off the top of my head I’m not sure what zone that would be, but I would think northern California would be perfect for Japanese Maples. I know you have my videos, but here’s a refresher on grafting Japanese maples. http://www.freeplants.com/grafting_fruit_trees_and_ornamental_plants.htm
Matt in Scotts Valley,CA says
Is there any way that the nurseries from your list won’t buy my rooted cuttings, or plants?
Whether or not you can sell small plants or rooted cuttings depends upon what you are growing. Through the Ecourse I spend a great deal of time explaining which items are in the most demand, but of course it comes down to supply and demand. There are no guarantees in any business that somebody will buy something. However, if you are on my mailing list you will meet a lot of people that are selling a lot of plants.
Betty Emery says
How do I get started with this offer?
luca florian says
i love the japonese maples, but i don’t know if you can sent me plant here in Roumania, it’s an excelent price
You can see my nursery on maitre du jardins page on facebook
wayne a says
hi mike ,i’am in newfoundland ,ca,,,i wanna start a small backyard nursery and grow jap maples to sell ; i want your help !
i guess i need your Ecourse and i need a to find a wholesale company where i can buy FRESH SEED
how do i get started ?
Wayne, this is where and how you get started: http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm. Everything is included at only $37.00, wholesale sources and all.
How about NW Arizona (Kingman, AZ area)?
We are in the high desert, two to three days of snow, lots of windy days and summer heat to around 105 (at the extreme) nights are cool.
I have a Japanese red maple I bought as a 2-3 foot baby that has survived since April of 2011 to today (has little buds).
Tonia, the advantage that you have is no really hard freezes. If you plant your trees where they get about 50% shade during the day and keep them watered in the dog days of summer you should be fine. I’ve got a wholesale source in Georgia that has an incredible selection, but I’m not exactly sure where in the state he is.
Would like to add some of these small japanese maples to our backyard. It is a large open space, which abuts a large marsh,
we live on Cape Cod. Do not want them to grow too tall, it would block our beautiful view. So, do they stay small in stature?
Valerie, that depends on the variety you choose. The dissectum varieties like crimson Queen, Ever Red, Inaba Shadaire, Waterfall are all low growers, seldom reaching a height of 48″. See the photos on this site, just click on Japanese maple varieties to the right. Other upright varieties can reach 20 or 25 feet, but only if left unpruned. I have a Butterfly, which is an upright grower, in my landscape and it’s only about 40″ tall after 7 years in the landscape. I keep it trimmed because I don’t want it tall. That way I get to enjoy the beautiful foliage.
Holly Dardine says
I would love to grow for you but i live in zone 4 in Wisconsin i dont think that would work
Holly, most are safely rated down to zone 5. But I’m curious if you have older, mature Japanese maples growing in your city? In the parks or public buidlings?
I live in North GA. How large are the maples and would they have to be protected in winter? Are they marked as to what kind each one is?
Kathy, I’m in zone 5 Ohio and I don’t protect my Japanese maples for the winter. In Georgia your biggest concern would be providing them with some shade for the first year or two. When you buy Japanese maples they should always be clearly marked as to the variety. Right now I am not selling any plants myself. I show others how to buy them wholesale and resell them.
Mike, I only have one Japanese Maple right now – a mature one that we moved. BUT, I love them and would like more information on how to get started! I have plenty of room – just point me in teh right direction!!!
Kristy, if you have a mature tree now it probably produces seeds. There’s a good market for Japanese maples seeds as well as seedlings. Onto seedlings you can graft a variety of different kinds. Details about getting started are here: http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
Mike, I am addicted to the Japanese Maple. I have several different types. My zone is 9 down here in Las Vegas. I have to keep them all in the shade however they all are doing well. Do you have any specific kinds that do well in zone 9?
Jason, thanks for sharing your experience with growing them in zone 9. Right off the top of my head I can’t name any that would be ideal for zone 9, but that’s a great question and I hope to remember to ask it next week when I’m at an industry trade show. I need to follow up on your question, that’s for asking it.
Can you tell me what varieties of Japanese maple are doing well for you? I’m hoping to plant one here in Vegas myself.
Joyce Christie-Taylor says
I’m in Connecticut, and think I’d like to give this a try, not only because of the beauty of this tree, but also to create a beautiful “privacy screen” between my yard and my neighborbors’ yards. I planted one about 10 years ago, and it has grown beautifully…
connie parker says
mike will japenese maple make it in zone 8/9.thanks connie
Connie, in zone 8 with at least some shade during the day they’d probably be okay. Anything over zone 8 is really pushing the limit for them.
wazir hussain says
its good idea.
hai/i would love to have one but i do not know whether INDIAN(INDIA)climate is suitable or not.so please let me knoe so that i can also have one in my collection.thanks………….jaya
Jaya, In Indidan Japanese maples should do just fine.
Hi Mike, I absolutely love the Japanese maple trees and would realy like to have them in my garden. I stay in Johannesburg South Africa, will they grow here? Any advise?
Marenka, in the U.S. we have a zone map established by the U.S.D.A. Japanese maples do well in zones 5 through 7, possibly 8. As an example zone 5 is a cold zone, as cold as single digits or even 0 degrees Farenheiht during the winter. Sometimes we can have temps in the single digits for two or three weeks at a time. During the summer it gets up to the high 80’s, sometimes in the 90’s. Japanese maples do pretty good in this zone. Zone 6 is warmer and they are safer there. Anything above zone 7 is starting to get too warm for them. States like Georgia, Alabama and Florida are going to be zone 8i or warmer. It’s really too hot for them there. So hopefully that will give you some points of reference.
I live in Georgia and have great success growing Japanese Maples, they are a very popular ornamental tree here.
As long as they are planted in semi shade and not to deep in our clay like soil they seem to prosper.
I have one at my own residence that is over 12′ tall now, it is 19 years old and has survived my 4 kids!!! and my prune happy father-in-law.
Matt, thanks for sharing this information. It helps others in similar climates decide on whether or not they can grow Japanese maples. That tree is probably produce a good number of seeds. You should be harvesting those seeds in late September, early October. If your tree has good red color that makes the seeds even more desireable. People would love to buy those seeds or they’d even buy seedlings from you.
Kim Mangum says
doesnt look like Abilene Texas is the place to grow these little guys but I was looking on line and the shantung maple does well here can I find them for a reasonable price to start doing the same thing with shantung instead of the little Japanese maples?
Love all your shanagans! I have many of my own!
Kim, any plant that is popular can be grown and sold. Our Backyard Growers sell everything you can think of. http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
Ana Schafer says
We live in Baltimore and have seen numerous Japanese Maples. How much space would I need and how many plants do we purchase at one time? Also, how long should they grow before selling them? Do we sell them via online?
You can sell they online, off line and sell them at any szie you want. If you buy them wholesale you can take them right out of the box and sell them if you want. See the videos on this page: http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
Paul Janda says
I live in the San Diego area with hot summers and subject to frost in the winter can Japanese Maples be grown in this area
Paul, seems to me San Diego should be ideal. Japanese maples can not only handle frost, but here in the north they are subjected to super hard freezes down into single digits and they do fine.
Kim Mangum says
So I guess I need to buy the back yard growing system and then I will find the suppliers of shantung maples for less than what I would pay local?
Robin Mastervick says
Hi Mike, I’m very interested in growing Japanese Maples, one thing right now it’s winter here in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada & right now I don’t have the proper facilities to grow them except for maybe some room in our sunroom, would this area be adequate??? please let me know Mike, thanks!!!
Robin, I grow all of my Japanese maples outside, in cold. Right now mine are covered with snow. Not sure what zone you are in, but I’m in northern, Ohio zone 5. Which is actually pretty close to Canada. We’re less than 4 hours from Niagara Falls, and I believe across the lake to Canada is only about 20 miles. The way that I do it is I buy them wholesale when they are small and just grow them on from there. I let somebody else do the grafting and growing from seed. Details here: http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
Marjorie Johnson says
Mike I live in South Central NE Zone 5 I have 2 Japanese Maples I grew from seed planted in my yard and doing fine, Then I have about 8 more I bough at about year or 2 Graft I have out side growing and 7 More in pots in my Garage waiting to be moved in the Yard this next Summer. In My Unheated Greenhouse I planted about 6 differant seeds I bought off the internet.Hoping they will Germinate When I place them outside when weather gets warmer in the spring,YES I LOVE Japanese Maples. I have differant colors and verigated. But I have one that is dwarf that will stay in the pot but put outside in Summer. Grafting sounds interest-ing. I have abeautiful Rose I grew from rooting a rose gave to,It nis beautiful. Just love all plants.
I love your enthusiasum about Japanese maples. Keep in mind, sometimes an unheated garage is not the best place to store plants during the winter. In a pot, in the garage, the roots will freeze and thaw a lot more in the garage than they will in the ground. In nurseries we put plants in hoop houses covered with WHITE plastic to keep them from going through that freeze/thaw cycle. Under white plastic they still freeze hard as rock, but they don’t freeze and thaw as often. The white plastic reflects the rays from the sun and actually keeps it cold in the hoop house. But the humdity is a lot higher and that’s also really important for winter storage.
Enjoy your collection!
Marjorie Johnson says
I did the unheated Greenhouse when I first started with the Japanese Maples I lost about HalF of them,So until they are ready to Plant outside I keep in the Garage. It is a attached Garage Usually stays about 40 degrees. Sometimes cooler if it gets about Zero outside. It is on the Eastside of House In town. Protected. I have a door south east corner of Garage where they stay for winter I check and Make sure they stay Moist and not dry out. Thanks for your Suggestions.
I live in the Rocky Mountains of southwestern Montana. Our winters are sometimes fairly mild, like this year so far, but sometimes the temps can be 20 degrees below zero at night for a few nights in a row (with day time temps not much warmer). The worst part of winter here is that it lasts a month longer than about anywhere else (even in other parts of Montana), so we have a short growing season. On the zonal charts we are actually on the line between zones 4 & 5, so not really sure which zone we are in.
I really want to have a backyard nursery. I like your info and want to buy your program but need to know if it will apply to these cold highlands.
We do have an abundance of raspberry plants that came over to our property from a neighbors yard (who has since moved on and his patch is no longer there) and last spring my grandson potted tons of them up and sold every one. People were asking what else we had, they wanted more. One woman even asked for a dandelion plant. This experience has inspired us to do more so I’m in the process of researching what we can do here in our unique but sometimes harsh environment. That’s how I found your site and I want to buy your program if it is applicable to our climate. I am subscribed to your newsletter and have gotten some good info from that.
Most specifically I’m wondering if I will find plants from the wholesale nurseries that can be sold and grown in this climate? Thank You,
Lorna, we have many, many backyard growers in zone 5 and some in zone 4. zone 4 is more challenging, but there are a lot of plants that you can grow and sell. The only thing that is challenging about your zone is plant selection. But here in zone 5 there are a lot of things that I can’t grow. So you just grow what you can and there are still plenty of options.
I am in zone 8 in Texas Ihave a Japanese maple about 12ft I would like to know about prunning it back so it is fuller and not tall.I don’t know if this is a good idea or not.
Sure go ahead and prune it. You won’t hurt it and it will fill out if you prune it. I prune all of mine, all the time.
Charlene Warren says
Do they grow in North Central FL near Gainesville and Ocala?
JAN PAGE says
I think that Mike and others working with the Japanese Maples should try to get a few new ones to live up in Northern Minnesota zone 3. I would love to have Japanese Maples but they just aren’t hardy enough!!!
Jan, I agree and I think the best you can hope for right now is to stay tuned. On this site we will report what we find. Are you sure your trees failed because of winter damage. That’s often not the case. Sometimes it has to do with other conditions. Like soil that is too wet.
I live in Durban, South Africa.
Is there a distributor in this area or how do I get my hands on two maple trees?
Hi.. Will these plants survive in INDIA.. Its not INDIANA.. india where the climate will be 32c