Many people even, if they don’t recognise them by name, love the look of Acers (or Japanese Maples as they are often called). Their graceful, arching stems and vibrant autumn leaf colour make them a popular focal point in gardens and container displays.
To help you choose the right plant for you, many labels will include the phrase palmatum, this means that the leaves are a broad palm shape, while disectum means they are divided in to thinner sections, resulting in a much finer leaf.
Acers flower in spring, but they are small and often overlooked. In autumn, these develop in to bunches of ‘key’ seed pods.
Acers are available in many eye catching varieties but all prefer to be positioned away from prevailing north winds. Green, crimson and red coloured leaves thrive in a sunny position, while yellow and variegated prefer light shade, this helps stop leaf scorch. Frost hardy, potted examples may benefit from the pots being wrapped in bubble wrap when winter temperatures are low.
Ericaceous (acid) soils are best as a low pH intensifies autumn leaf colour
A twice yearly feed in spring and early summer with an ericaceous granular or liquid feed is sufficient for maintaining plant health.
Acers require very little maintenance, but individual branches can be lightly pruned from November to January when the trees are dormant. Remove any damaged, diseased or crossing stems as required.
Pots and Containers
Many varieties are slow growing and perfect for large containers. When planting or potting, use a mix of ericaceous and John Innes No 3 composts. This provides your tree with a good balance of essential minerals and drainage. As with all container planting, it’s best to ensure that the holes at the bottom of the pot remain free by placing broken pot or gravel. When filling with the compost, ensure that you fill to the existing level the tree is planted at previously.
As with all plants make sure the compost doesn’t dry out. While mulching with bark or gravels will help prevent moisture loss and frosting as well as adding a decorative finish.