Trees really don’t ask for a lot once they are planted and established in your garden; they just need rich soil, water, and sunlight to thrive. In return for this they provide so much more than just a touch of elegance to your outdoor space. While planning a low maintenance garden that is beautiful and functional can increase your property value by as much as 20%, planting trees is also extremely beneficial to the environment. Take into consideration where you will situate your young saplings so that you can get the most from them. Strategically placed trees can help cool your home in the summer and reduce your energy consumption by up to 30%. Come winter, those same trees can let filtered sun shine into your home which helps increase your indoor temperatures and reduce your heating costs by nearly 50%. Not only will you appreciate well-chosen trees for their beauty but their mere presence can also save you a lot of money!
Native to China, Japan, and Korea, the maple Acer palmatum has been making its rounds throughout Europe and North American since the early 1800s. Cultivars of the Japanese maple have been developed for centuries by horticulturists, who have created over a thousand different varieties by now. One of the most beautiful and popular choices is the Osakazuki. It’s smaller than many other varieties, only growing to about 25 feet, and a modest 15-foot-wide crown means that it is perfect for gardens that do not have a lot of wide open space. Osakazuki forms on a single trunk with upright branches beginning low to the ground. Each branch is packed with seven-pointed leaves that are cupped at the base; its name reflects this as Osakazuki means, “Leaf like a wine cup”. Inconspicuous small reddish-purple flowers also form early in the spring and are showy upon closer inspection. Following the flowers, paired samaras form and ripen between September and October. This particular Japanese maple is best known for its vibrant color changes through the fall season with leaves that begin in spring as a vivid green, then change to yellow, orange, and finally to a dark reddish bronze color in the fall.
Osakazuki is best grown in soil that is moist but well-drained. Soil should also be rich in organic matter and slightly acidic for optimal color performance from this tree. It is suitable for locations within USDA plant hardiness zones 5 to 9. In the northern parts of this zone the tree is best grown in full sun, while in the more southern regions it will thank you for some shade during the hottest hours of the day. The Japanese maple isn’t fond of soil that is very dry and it also does not fare well in locations that are extremely hot and lacking moderate humidity. You will want to keep this in mind when planting the tree and while it is establishing its root system. Keeping the soil moist will ensure that the tree thrives and can also help avoid scorching of the delicate leaves on new growth. If you are concerned about hot weather and extended periods without rainfall, Osakazuki can be mulched around the base to retain moisture – this will also help to keep the root system cool. This maple should be situated in a location that can provide some shelter from winter winds, snow, and ice. Its smaller size also means it can be situated among taller, more robust trees and smaller shrubs, both of which can aid in protecting the tree.
While there are no serious diseases or insect issues that affect the Osakazuki you will still want to keep an eye out for some of minor irritants like stem cankers, leaf spots, and root rot. Most of this can be avoided with early intervention and won’t cause lasting damage if spotted early on. Aphids, root weevils and mites are also attracted to the Japanese maple so keep an eye out for them, too. Soils that are too high in pH can cause chlorosis, a condition where the leaves do not produce enough chlorophyll; this reduces their green hue and leaves them a pale yellow color. It is easier to raise pH levels than lower them, so you may want to test your soil prior to planting.
While Japanese maples are traditionally grown for their attractive color and unique foliage shapes, don’t forget the positive environmental impact your trees will have. Use them as an accent or in small groupings in various locations to create a strong visual point but also plant them where they are going to benefit you the most both visually and financially. Osakazuki is the perfect mid-sized maple tree for both home and commercial properties and is sure to be a wise investment.