Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Red Dragon’
Red Dragon is a lace leaf weeping Japanese maple with deep red leaves. In the spring this dwarf tree puts on a display of brilliant red leaves that are delicated cut, much like most other dissectums. As summer arrives the leaves turn a deep red to almost purple and hold that color all summer long right into the fall.
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Not as widely known as Crimson Queen, Ever Red, or Inaba Shadaire this newer variety is said to hold is deep red color better than all the others. Being in the dissectum family it has that traditional weeping habit along with those highly desireable lace leaves.
Hardy in zones 5 through 8, some sources say it will even do well in zone 9. Plant in rich soil that contains decomposed organic matter. The soil must be well drained. Japanese maples do not like to get their feet wet!
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what is that brownish stuff on the leaves in the second picture
looks like what i get on all my japanese maples- i live in new york, long island
most are potted, but even my mother tree(i do mostly air grafting) has it.
I have about 25 trees, all of them start off great in the spring, then little by little, all the leaves get like that but really bad, leaves drop etc. ive read some and heard potted plants are more prone to disease/fungi etc??
any help would be appreciated
ps some are only a couple years old since seperation from the mother plant, others are as old as 6 year old trees, they are in about 7 to 10 gallon nursery pots
Scott, usually brown spots on Japanese maple leaves is the result of watering during the heat of the day and getting the leaves wet. The water dropplets laying on the leaves act as a magnifying glass and will cause brown spots.
Brown edges are usually an indication that the leaves dried out at some point. It’s actually really common on the lace leaf maples by the end of summer to have those brown edges. Happens to mine a lot, and I don’t worry about it.
I took those photos really late in the year, so by then the leaves had already been through the war with the summer sun.
Hi Mike I get your e-mails all the time and find them very helpful and funny. I do have a question though, can Japanese Maples be grown indoors? I live in Wyoming, where our winters are extremley harsh and our winds even harsher.I’ve known others that have tried to grow them here but they never survive the winter. I really love these little delicate trees and would love to grow one indoors especially in a sunroom. I have over a hundred different types of houseplants growing in my home, including fruit trees, like dwarf citrus, fig,pinapple,mango,plus many rare and exotic jungle and dessert plants and have for years so do you think I could grow one of your lovely Maples in my home?I really love the lace leaf variety they would look so beautiful with some of my very old ferns
Debbie, Japanese maples, like most hardy plants need a dormancy period. That actually need some cold to put them into a resting period. Many Japanese maples do well down to zone 5. With a little extra protection you might have success if you are in zone 4. Not so sure about zone 3.
Debbie.. I too live in Zone 3 and would ‘Love to be able to Grow Japanese Maples’ like Mike does ! If you are looking for something fairly similar to the Red Leaves as this Maple has.. try a ‘Black Sambucus’ ! Very similar in appearance..for us ‘Colder Hardy’ Plant folks ! Good Luck
Marjorie Johnson says
I let mine go Dormant before I place in my unheated Garage I have a Red Dragon The 2 one the first was in My unheated Greenhouses That did not live though Winter in the Greenhouse It has the The regular plastic covering with a shade cloth. 2 layers of plastic with fan blowing air in between But got too cold for the Japanese Maple in winter and too Warm when Sun shiney days
Hello Mike! I’ve considered doing your little side business of back yard japanese maples. I wondered though about the deer that pass through here pretty much year round. I’ve noticed in your videos that you seem to be on the edge of the woods also, how do you minimize deer damage?
I’d really like to order your information kit and get started but have this deer issue to put to rest first.
Really enjoy the information and articles you publish, and Japanese Maples have always been a favorite of mine!
You’re right, I have deer on the property where my nursery is. Because there is so much else for them to eat in the area I didn’t try and protect any of my plants and so far do damage that I’ve seen. What you should do is get started growing easy stuff, things that are easy for you to grow, then if you have deer damge it really won’t be such a big deal. When you get some more expensive Japanese maples on board, just put an inexpensive fence around them, at least for the winter when the deer are really hungry. Don’t let this stop you from living your dream! http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
I have a red dragon Japanese maple tree that I purchased last year and planted in a container. It came back beautifully but the leaves are green! And the Red Dragon is known for holding it’s red color all season long. Do you have any idea why this would happen? I live in zone 5 (Chicago) and the tree is in a part sun/shade location. Any advice is appreciated….I bought the tree for the red color!
If the leaves are really, really green it sounds like you have suckers coming from below the graft union. Inspect the tree carefully and see if you can locate the graft union. Any new growth below the graft union would be green leaves and would need to be removed. If you have no red leaves at all it’s possible the grafted portion of the tree has died.
Paty Martin says
How often should I water my “Red Dragon Japanese Maple”?
As needed, just keep in mind they don’t like wet roots. So be careful to not over water.
I see you are an expert in growing red dragon maples. I have one in my backyard, i planted it last year. First it was spring the leaves were red, then in summer they were red and green, then in fall the leaves’ color turned into nice dark red, but then in winter they started to dry and fall. Now my tree doesn’t have a single leaf on it, is that normal, isn’t it supposed to have nice red leaves all year round? Please help me. I live in CA, where the temerature is never below 0 degrees in Celsius. Thanks
You’re describing the exact thing my red dragon Japanese maple is doing…did you ever hear from Mike? If so, do you mind sending me what he said, please?
I’m sure I replied, just check the comments.
Hi. I just bought a Red Dragon. It is about 2ft tall, so just a little one. I just planted it, so how much water should I be giving it? Thanks. I live up in Canada on Vancouver Island, just North of Seattle. Doesn’t get too cold where we are. Lots of rain in the fall/winter/spring, and a pretty nice summer.
Deana Maisey says
We live in Chesapeake, VA and have had what we only know as a Weeping Japanese Maple (Lacy Leaf) for about 8 or 9 years. It’s beautiful and is doing great…except for one thing. It appears that in the last couple of years or so, it is growing regular maple leaves instead of lacy leaves. I didn’t know that was even possible. Any ideas or thoughts?
I purchased a dragon Japanese lace leaf maple last September. It was planted by the nursery from where it was purchased. It was beautiful.
I survived the winter. It started to bud and then we had a frost in mid May. The buds look dried and it does not look like it is making any attempt to rebud or releaf. It was a 10 year old tree – it has been at the nursery for a few years. I noticed the bark did split and I was advised to spray a sealer on it and tape it which I did. I was also told to give it fertilizer by the nursery. I did that as well just sprinkling it on the ground (not making a chute for the fertilizer to fall in). I have been watering it and still nothing. There still is life in the tree but I just don’t know how to bring it back.
My Red Dragon 2 weeks ago turned fall color and then the leaves shriveled up (june). I live in zone 5, just south of lake michigan. Its been plated for 3 years now, we had a really bad winter, but the leaves came out beautifully this spring. No bugs, or fungi, nothing has changed on my part, planted on north side in part shade. Just went to my father-in-laws and he had the same thing happen to his, but he got his money back because his was only a year old (he lives 7 hrs east in Ohio).
Lynne Stevenson says
I live in Calgary AB and just bought one. We are a zone 4. How long does it have to be dormant for?
It should be dormant all winter. You don’t want it waking up too early and leafing out. If you get a freeze after that it can be really traumatic for the tree. I do my best to keep all of my plants dormant until the end of April.
I have two of these gorgeous trees and wonder why they aren’t growing much? They look beautiful every year…I’ve had them for 5 years and they don’t look much different than they did when they were planted.
Could not fertilizing them be the cause?
They need very little fertilizer. I suspect they might be planted a tad too deep or are just in poor soil. They hate wet feet and the need soil that can breath. Consider raising them a few inches before they leaf out this spring.
With that said, they don’t grow a lot, maybe 6 to 8 inches per year.
Kristy Edwards says
I have one that is mostly green but is starting to turn red on the edges of the leaves. Is there something I can do to help it get the beautiful red all over?
If your Red Dragon is getting lots of sun it should be nice and red. If it’s not red, it might not be Red Dragon.
Kristy Edwards says
It was already here when we bought our house. I wish I could attach a picture. It’s up close to the front of the house so it only get sun in the afternoon and evening.
david whitehouse says
Do these trees drop their leaves in the winter? Do the leaves change color ?
Yes, they lose their leaves in winter. Leaves will turn brilliant red just before dropping.
Grace Verchek says
I have a lace leaf maple tree. It turned a beautiful red this fall and it’s now early January and it hasn’t lost its leaves. Is that a problem? It looks healthy to me but I’m not an expert.
No, I don’t think it’s a problem. Has more to do with the fall weather. This is really common this year.
I agree it isn’t a problem.
I’m in zone 6a. I have a small, but increasing Japanese garden area. My experience has been that depending on variety and the weather in any given year the leaves might not drop. I have a five foot tall “Garnet” who’s leaves turn brown in winter and simply don’t drop off the branches. Right now it’s the beginning of May and it still has most of last year’s leaves.. I’ve had it for four years and it’s quite a robust tree. I have four other dissectums in the same area of the yard and they all drop their leaves in late October right after the “Bloodgood” does..
Julie Ann says
Hi there 🙂
Do you have any information on bonsai protocol for this tree? I purchase a gorgeous 24″ red dragon lace leaf today and I’d love to bonsai it.
Sorry, I really can’t speak much about bonsi.
I purchased my red dragon about a month & a half ago, it’s about 2 feet tall. It didn’t have any leaves at the time but now it has leaves all over. They looked exactly how leaves are suppose to look on a red dragon maple. But, about a week ago I noticed the leaves were wilting, not completely dried out but just drooping down instead of how they regularly look. Do you think this is a result of over watering or lack of sun? We’ve had rain for over a week straight & barely any sunny days. I saw that you told someone they don’t like wet feet. Do you know if the tree will bounce back or has the excessive rain possibly drowned it or something?
Sounds like it’s too wet or possibly planted too deep. I’d get it out of the ground and and re-plant it higher if need be. See this; https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2011/04/how-to-plant-a-ball-and-burlap-tree/
Bruce Taylor says
My landscaper planted a Acer palmatum dissectum (Red Cut leaf Japanese maple in my landscaping this summer and I just purchased a Red Dragon Japanese maple this fall to plant in my landscaping I was hoping to have two different types of Japanese maples but they look the same to me. Can you explain the difference in the the above trees?
Red Dragon is a great Japanese maple but probably very similar to one you have. If you want something different get a green one, Waterfall or Virdis. Or Lion’s Head.
Thank you for your insight. I just planted a red dragon 5 weeks ago in all day sun zone 7. A few leaves have turned a yellowish brown and fallen off while others are starting to get the slightest hint of green. The majority of the leaves look nice and red still though. I give it a deep watering every 2-3 days. Any thoughts on the issue? If it needs to be raised a little is it bad to do that this time of year (mid-June)?
If you just planted it 5 weeks ago you could safely raise it if needed. If your soil drains poorly it might be getting too much water. Really difficult to say without knowing more. Raising it so it is slightly higher than grade then mulched could be a good thing.