The Magic of Maples

17th October 2022

Home » The Magic of Maples

Japanese maples are the perfect choice of tree for any small, compact or courtyard garden. Their character and appeal makes them ideal for creating a focal point, brightening a shaded corner, or elegantly overhanging a pool or water feature. We have a huge range here at the nursery from small 10L up to 3m high specimens with the largest selection being available in Spring.

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. With their Eastern origins in Japan, Korea and China, these small trees are suitable for developing gardens with Oriental themes and designs, choosing other suitable planting partners for them, like ferns, hostas, bamboo, azaleas, camellias, and more.

Their natural shape and growing habit makes 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.

While some green or purple-leaved varieties will tolerate an open position in full sun, this can scorch the more delicate foliage of golden, variegated or dissected forms. A sheltered site is more suitable, and particularly one that provides shade during the hottest part of the day and protection from drying winds.

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 the Big Plant Nursery Twyford you’ll be spoilt for choice when picking one to add a little maple magic to your garden.

Top Maples for any Garden

To help you choose the best varieties with outstanding garden performance always look for ones that have received an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society. Here are some our favorites, including some with AGMs:

  • Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Sango-Kaku’
  • Acer shirasawanum ‘Jordan’

Other popular Japanese Maples to look out for:

  • Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’
  • Acer japonicum ‘Shaina’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Trompenburg’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Inaba-shidare’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Garnet’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Orange Dream’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Ryusen’

Planting partners for Japanese Maples

Try combining maples with other plants, 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. Here are a few planting partners to consider:

  • Azalea
  • Bamboo
  • Camellia
  • Cornus kousa and others
  • Ferns
  • Box balls
  • Flowering Cherries and Plums (Prunus varieties)
  • Holly (Ilex varieties)
  • Hydrangeas
  • Japanese laurel (Aucuba varieties)
  • Magnolias
  • Dwarf Pinus varieties
  • Rhododendron
  • Wisteria
  • Yew (Taxus varieties)

Top Tips for Growing Japanese Maples

Choose a sheltered site where trees are protected from late spring frosts, cold winds and scorching summer sun. Maples prefer well-drained soil containing plenty of compost to lock in moisture and ensure the ground never dries out.

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

For growing in containers choose large and stable terracotta pots with several drainage holes in their base. Line pots with a sheet of plastic before filling with compost to reduce water loss through the sides.

As trees can remain in pots for several years it’s best to plant them using a loam-based John Innes No.3 compost with extra grit added to ensure good drainage. Do remember that established trees will need repotting into larger pots every few years.

Keep the top of the compost a few inches below the pot rim to make watering from above easier, covering the surface with a mulch of pebbles or ornamental gravel.

Water regularly with collected rainwater, and stand pots in saucers of water to provide a reservoir for trees to take up each day during hot, dry periods.

Tree roots can be susceptible to frost damage in winter, so either move pots to sheltered sites or wrap with bubble polythene insulation.

For individual ideas and advice about suitable plant choices please contact or visit us at The Big Plant Nursery. If you are considering changes to the garden but are not sure where to start, we can also come to you- ask about our very popular ‘At Home’ Consultancy Service .

Tel 0118 934 1757, email We are open 7 days a week.