Baby Buttons Vine MapleAcer circinatum Baby Buttons
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Acer circinatum Baby Buttons
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Shade
The Baby Buttons Vine Maple is a delightful dwarf deciduous tree that grows into a rounded bush 2 feet tall and wide, gradually growing a little larger over time. The stems are covered in densely-clustered tiny rounded leaves, with the pointed lobes of a maple tree. Closely related to full-moon Japanese maples, but native to America, the parent tree is much larger in every way. The leaves are pink in spring and turn strong shades of yellows, oranges and red in fall. Grow it in a bed where it can be admired, in an Asian garden, in a pot, or as a marvelous bonsai tree.
The Baby Buttons Vine Maple will grow in full sun, partial shade and light, dappled full shade – it is more shade tolerant than Japanese maples. Plant it in well-drained soil that is moist and rich. Avoid excessive dryness during summer. Hardy in zone 5, it grows best in areas with summers that are not too hot and humid. Generally free of pests or diseases, it is easy to grow with a little attention. No trimming or pruning is needed.
Japanese maples have a magnetic fascination to most gardeners, they are just so charming and charismatic. They conjure up exotic images of remarkable gardens very different from Western ones, or of forest-covered hills thousands of miles away. Few people realize that America has a native tree closely related to the Japanese maples – the vine maple. Its closest relatives are the full moon maples of Japan, a special connection made in the distant past when Asia and America were joined together. Just as unique Japanese maples are collected and treasured, so there are a small number of special garden forms of the vine maple, which are very similar, and highly-regarded by collectors. Top of everyone’s list is the beautiful Baby Buttons Vine Maple, a delightful miniature tree that charms its way into your heart just as young children do. Forming a small rounded bush it is the tiny leaves, like a baby’s hands, that make it special. Tinted pink in spring and blazing red and orange in fall, it is captivating every day.
Easier to grow than many Japanese maples, and more tolerant of shade, there are so many ways you can make this beauty a part of your garden. Plant it with other small shrubs and miniature trees in your beds; grow it in every Asian-themed courtyard or garden; enjoy it in a pot on a terrace or balcony, or turn it into a beautiful bonsai tree – perhaps your introduction to that fascinating art and hobby. Heck, just find a place for it – it won’t be hard – and enjoy something unique that will become a household favorite – go on, do something special for yourself.
The Baby Buttons Vine Maple is a miniature deciduous tree that grows like a small shrub. It grows as a cluster of short, upright stems forming a rounded bush, adding a couple of inches of new growth each year. In 10 years it will be about 2 feet tall and wide, gradually growing larger the longer you have it, and becoming more beautiful and special with each passing year. The smooth, glossy young stems are green and often red on the upper side. Older stems become rougher and light gray in color. The leaves are more or less circular, but divided into between 7 and 11 slender, pointed lobes. They are the size of a fingertip, and certainly no more than one inch across, where the wild tree has leaves of 4 to 5 inches. The tips of the lobes tend to curl downwards slightly, and the leaves are densely clustered on the branches.
Young spring leaves are a delicate orange-pink, maturing to bright green, with a smooth, glossy surface. Throughout the summer they remain a cooling green, and then in fall turn to deep, rich tones of oranges and reds. When grown in shade the fall colors will be softer, with more yellows. Along with the spring leaves clusters of tiny red flowers may form, mostly on older plants. This may mature into small maple ‘keys’ that mature to reds and then light browns. These will decorate the tree for weeks after the leaves fall.
A small, special tree like this deserves a prime location in your garden. Plant it in a shrub bed near your home, where you will see it close-up. Grow it on the terraces of a retaining wall, or in a raised bed. Plant it in a damp rock garden. It is a prime candidate for growing in a container – perhaps a special pot (although it must have drainage holes). It could stand on a terrace, patio, porch or balcony. Definitely add it to an Asian or Japanese-style garden, and for something very special, turn it into a unique and startlingly beautiful bonsai tree.
The Baby Buttons Vine Maple is a little more cold-resistant than many Japanese maples, and can be easily grown in zone 5. We have reports of it growing in sheltered places in the warmer end of zone 4. It grows in all warmer zones too, preferring areas with damp summers that aren’t too hot, and mild winters.
Your Baby Buttons Vine Maple will be happy in full sun, perhaps with a little afternoon shade in summer in hot zones – plants in pots can easily be moved around to keep in the ideal spot. This plant is also more shade-tolerant than Japanese maples, and it’s a great choice for shadier beds, where it will grow with just a couple of hours of shade each day, or even in full, light, dappled shade under trees, as long as the soil isn’t dry. It grows best in damp, rich, well-drained soil and it is best not to expose it too dry soil conditions very much.
Usually pest and disease-free, watering and some liquid fertilizer for plants in pots is about all it takes to succeed with this great little tree. It doesn’t need any pruning unless you are training it as a bonsai. Don’t let it dry out in the summer much, or the leaves could shrivel and burn. Should any branches with large leaves grow – unlikely but possible – remove them immediately. Otherwise, sit back and contemplate the special beauty and charm of this unique tree.
The vine maple, Acer circinatum, is only found in a small area within 200 miles of the Pacific, from southern-most British Columbia through Oregon and Washington and just into the beginning of northern California. Its closest relatives are not our sugar or red maples, but the full-moon maples of Japan, Acer japonicum and Acer shirasawanum. With rounded leaves, those close relatives of the Japanese maple, Acer palmatum, are relatively hard to grow, so the vine maple is a great alternative. Trees sometimes produce perfect miniature branches, sprouting from normal limbs. These are called witch’s brooms, and that is the origin of the vine maple variety called Baby Buttons. It was found in the Flora Wonder Arboretum™ of Buchholz & Buchholz Nursery, a famous nursery in Gaston, Oregon, which specializes in Japanese maples and their relatives.
Among the more common trees and shrubs we grow it is great to have something rare, special and wonderful. That is how we feel about the Baby Buttons Vine Maple, and we know you will too. We only found a handful of plants, and ardent collectors scour the internet for beauties like this. So they will sell out fast – order now to be sure you get one, it will be a wonderful boost to your gardening life.