Japanese maples are usually grown as specimen trees, and while the Katsura Japanese Maple certainly makes a lovely multi-stem specimen tree, its distinctive bushy habit opens up the possibility of using it as large shrub, which is not something most forms of this diverse tree are suitable for. Its gorgeous spring and fall foliage make it especially attractive for a large part of the year, and this versatile tree can become a valuable part of your garden in a very distinctive way.
The Katsura Japanese Maple grows at a moderate pace, adding up to 12 inches a year when young, into a bushy, vase-shaped tree. It will reach 10 to 15 feet in height and be 10 to 12 feet wide, so it can be used as a substantial presence in your garden, without being overwhelming. In time it may grow taller, possibly reaching 20 feet tall and wide under ideal conditions. The leaves are small and neat, just an inch or so in length. They have 5 lobes, spreading out like fingers on a hand, and divided about halfway into the leaf. That more substantial leaf makes this tree more durable during drier weather than the delicate, lace-leaf varieties are. In spring the new leaves emerge a gorgeous pale, bright yellow, edged with shades of coral and orange – a charming and bright look indeed. As summer approaches they turn chartreuse green, with some coral tones remaining around the leaf margins. Then in fall brilliant color returns, as the leaves turn fabulous shades of pastel oranges and yellows, glowing and bright. These lighter and brighter tones are very different from the more common reds and purples, giving this tree a very distinctive look, and putting it into the ‘golden-foliage’ class of garden plants. It is invaluable as a colored shrub, bringing color far longer than flowers ever can.
In winter too the Katsura Japanese Maple is gorgeous, because the young stems are an outstanding shade of deep purple, glowing in the winter sun, and embellished by the clusters of small red maple keys that hang on the bare branches from fall to mid-winter. These develop from clusters of red flowers that are briefly visible among the expanding leaves in spring. This tree really does have something beautiful to offer at all seasons, and it is one of the best all-round Japanese maples available, and highly recommended. It has received an Award of Garden Merit in Britain from the Royal Horticultural Society – a badge of approval you can rely on.
Many people think that Japanese maples only belong in Asian-style gardens, but this is one variety that definitely is at home in any garden, from the more formal to the casual woodland look. It will fit perfectly among the foundation planting around your home, contrasting beautifully with evergreens, and filling spaces between windows and in the angle of walls. As a background shrub in a garden bed it is unequalled for color and interest, and planted along the margins of a wooded area, or along a woodland path, it would be inviting, beautiful, and right at home. The Katsura Japanese Maple is also one of the few Japanese maple varieties we would recommend for screening and hedges, as its dense growth gives good privacy, and it trims well, if done in late fall and early winter only. Of course, you can certainly also use it in your Japanese courtyard, and even in a container, and its small leaves make it an easy bonsai subject.
The Katsura Japanese Maple is hardy in warmer parts of zone 5, and in all warmer zones, and its broader leaves make it more heat resistant than many others. It grows well and colors best in full sun in cooler zones, and with some light shade, especially in the summer afternoons, in warmer ones. Rich, moist, well-drained soil suits it best, and pests and diseases are normally never a problem. Keep your tree well-watered during hot and dry weather, especially when young. We don’t normally suggest pruning Japanese maples, but this is one that is dense and bushy enough to use as a screen, and it can certainly be pruned annually. Do not trim during spring and summer, as these trees can bleed sap at that time. Late fall and winter are the best times, after the leaves have fallen. Not only will an annual trimming encourage a dense and bushy habit, the many young shoots created will really emphasize their purple color when dormant, making a great winter effect.
The Katsura Japanese Maple is a traditional variety, originally brought from Japan, of the Japanese maple, Acer palmatum. This native tree has been cultivated in its many forms for centuries in Japan, and it also grows wild in the forests of Korea and parts of China. The name ‘Katsura’ in Japanese means ‘wig’, perhaps a reference to the dense and rounded nature of the tree. At the Tree Center we specialize in unique Japanese maples, and we love these classic forms, selected in Japan for their refined and elegant beauty. The spring foliage of this variety is highly praised by everyone, and really needs to be seen to be believed. Whatever kind of garden you have, this tree can find a home, so order now. We only have a limited supply, and our stock will soon be gone.