Beni Komachi means ‘beautiful red-haired little girl’ in Japanese, and is the perfect description of this tree. What makes this Japanese maple stand out from the crowd is its unique foliage. The leaves are finally divided into several deep segments, but also crinkled and twisted, creating a charming and unique form. In spring the new leaves emerge red, but quickly turn to a rich purple. As summer progresses the leaves turn green, but the leaf margin remains purple, another unique feature not normally seen in Japanese maples of other varieties. But the show has not finished yet, because in fall the leaves turn a vibrant scarlet, one of the strongest fall displays seen in any of the many varieties of these beautiful trees.
The Beni Komachi Japanese Maple has a rounded upright habit, so over time it will grow steadily to six feet or more, and be three to four feet wide. It forms a dense, bushy miniature tree that looks splendid in an Asian-influenced garden, or among other lovers of partial-shade, like azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias. It will also grow well in a container, where it will remain smaller and be happy for many years on a patio or terrace. Because of its smaller size the branches are fine and produce a bushy plant naturally, with no trimming required.
The foliage of your Beni Komachi Japanese Maple is not only unique for its coloring, but also for its form. Like other Japanese maples this tree has finely divided leaves, like a baby’s hand, with the ‘fingers’ narrow and thin. However in this charming tree they are also curled and twisted, giving a very unique form that is seen in few other maples. The branches are slender and with the delicate foliage the tree really does have the appearance of a sweet ‘little girl’ in your garden.
Japanese maples are not fussy about soil and will grow in almost all soils, although they will do best in a soil that you have added organic material to. During the early years keep your plant well watered and do not let it become completely dry. Older plants are more drought resistant, but prefer damper conditions. Do not plant in a spot where water constantly sits – drainage is needed too. Should you see any shoots developing that do not have the characteristic leaves of this tree, then trim those shoots off to preserve the perfect qualities of your tree.
This tree is hardy to minus 20 degrees, so it will grow in most parts of the country. The ideal location for your tree depends on where you live. In the coldest areas a position in full-sun will be ideal, although it will also do well in partial shade. As we move into warmer areas some shelter, first from the afternoon sun, is best, to keep the foliage fresh all summer. In the hottest areas your tree will do best in a location that is shady all day, as the foliage is very fine and may burn in the heat of the southern sun. Prepare the soil with well-rotted organic material or garden compost and keep your tree well-watered during its early years. If you want to grow it in a container make sure it has a drainage hole and use potting soil for outdoor trees. Water thoroughly each time the soil becomes a little dry for the top few inches.
Despite its delicate appearance this tree has no significant pests or diseases and will live for many, many years, growing in beauty in each one. Mature specimens of trees like this can sell for thousands of dollars, so think of it as a long-term investment, although you will probably not be able to part with your ‘beautiful little girl’ when she has grown into a splendid young woman. As you can imagine, a tree like this is not easy to grow and our specialist growers attach selected stems from correctly identified specimens onto the roots of seedling trees. Garden centres are full of trees simply called ‘Japanese maples’ that could grow into almost anything, but none of these cheaper trees will even come close to the quality and charm of a selected, named variety, such as the Beni Komachi Japanese Maple. Because of the rarity of this variety our stocks are limited, so order now, this tree may not be available again for several seasons.