The natural form of the Japanese maple is rounded and broad, and that can be a problem when we only have a limited space available, but we need some height, without a lot of width. Trimming will spoil the natural form of such a beautiful tree, but there is an answer to be found among the many forms of this desirable tree. It is Skeeter’s Broom Japanese Maple, which grows into an upright, multi-stemmed plant densely clothed in leaves to the ground, no more than 3 or 4 feet wide but up to 10 feet tall. Its form is only the beginning, because this gorgeous tree has some of the richest red leaves we have ever seen. If you love Japanese maples – and who doesn’t? – you will adore this tree.
Growing Skeeter’s Broom Japanese Maples
Skeeter’s Broom Japanese Maple is a vigorous and reliable form, which develops several main branches growing very upright. These are densely covered in foliage, making a solid tree right to the ground. It grows rapidly into a small tree between 4 and 10 feet tall, with a width between 2 and 4 feet. The leaves have five long lobes, cut right to the base of the leaf, in the form called ‘palmate’, like the fingers of a hand. Each lobe is edges in small serrations, and the colors are glorious. In spring the new leaves are bright, vibrant red. As the season advances, they turn a rich purple-red, lasting all summer without becoming greenish, as many inferior varieties do. Then in fall the tree becomes a column of blazing crimson, standing out across the garden like a burning torch. The winter twigs are also deep red, adding color to that fourth season as well.
Skeeter’s Broom Japanese Maple makes a perfect accent specimen in a shrub bed, and it can be grown right at the front, where its foliage will be fully appreciated. It looks wonderful on a smaller lawn, alone or planted in groups. Use it in containers and planters in warmer zones, where it is easy to maintain a good water supply to the roots. This colorful plant is a great way to brighten boring green beds, and its fall color will look perfect on the edges of a wooded area.
Some Japanese maples are delicate and slow-growing, but Skeeter’s Broom Japanese Maple is not one of those. It is remarkably vigorous, growing 6 to 12 inches a year, and more winter hardy than many other forms. It is completely hardy throughout all of zone 5, and also in sheltered spots in zone 4. In colder areas it should not be planted in a hot, south-facing sunny spot, as this may trigger early bud-break, increasing the risk of damage from late spring frosts. It is also more heat and dryness resistant than many other varieties, although no Japanese maple is truly drought resistant, and watering during summer periods is always best. Even if the foliage does scorch and burn in late summer, this does not affect the ability of the tree to re-grow then next year. The best location has morning sun to develop the richest colors, and afternoons shade to protect from scorching. The soil should be moist but well-drained, and enriched with plenty of organic material, such as compost, rotted leaves, or well-rotted manure. Mulch over the root-zone, keeping free of the trunk, with organic material in spring or fall. This will keep the roots moist and cool. This tree normally never suffers from pests or diseases, and once you have it planted in a suitable location, with good soil and adequate moisture, it will thrive and grow with virtually no attention at all. Note that in zones 8 and 9 some fading of the summer leaf color occurs in all varieties of Japanese maples.
History and Origins of Skeeter’s Broom Japanese Maples Trees
The Japanese maple, Acer palmatum, grows naturally not only in Japan, but also in parts of China and in Korea. It is found in woodlands and on hills, and it is an important tree for fall color across all the islands of Japan. It has been admired and grown in gardens for centuries there, and many unique forms have been collected. America has also contributed some well-known forms, and perhaps the most widely grown of all is ‘Bloodgood’, a large tree growing over 20 feet tall, that was developed at the Bloodgood Nurseries, Long Island, New York in the first half of the 20th century. It is famous for its reliable color and resistance to cold. The variety called ‘Skeeter’s Broom’ was found at the Raraflora Nursery, Pennsylvania. by the owner Edward Rodd, known as ‘Skeeter’. It was an unusual clump of branches growing on a tree of ‘Bloodgood’ – something called a witch’s broom – and the name naturally followed. Just as tough and reliable as its parent, but with stronger foliage color and a distinct dwarf form, this tree is among the very best upright varieties available. Our stock is limited, so order now for this unique tree, which we highly recommend.