Growing Japanese Maples in Hard Water Areas

Maple in southern California

General cultural requirements for Japanese Maples, in all climates, are well drained semi-acidic soil, consistent water, always moist, never soggy and protection from hot afternoon sun and drying winds. In many areas hard alkaline water presents the greatest challenge. By mid summer leaves will seem to burn on the edges. This is a symptom of mineral buildup in the soil. By planting in an acid soil mix, including gypsum at a rate of one cup for five gallons of soil, using an acidifying fertilizer once a year, and drenching with treated water periodically you can prevent the mineral build up in your soil. To remove minerals from water add one tablespoon of white vinegar per five gallons of water and allow to sit overnight. The minerals will settle to the bottom of the bucket. Drench the root area thoroughly allowing water to run through the soil. By growing in a container you can more easily care for your tree.

When choosing your maples, spring is the most important season to consider in hard water areas. Typically in hard water areas fall color is inconsistent; spring color with maples is long, and glorious. Here are a few suggestions for spring color:

  • Bonfire (Palmate)-red to pink spring, tiny leaves, upright 6-8’
  • Shindeshojo (Palmate)-bright red spring, 10-15’
  • Katsura (Palmate) - orange, yellow spring, 12-18’
  • Beni Maiko (Dwarf) - bright red spring, 4-6’
  • Sango Kaku (Palmate) - bright red bark in winter, pale green spring, 12-18’

For red through the summer:

  • Fireglow (Palmate) - red all summer, 8-10’
  • Emperor 1(Palmate) - big red tree, fast growing to 15-18’
  • Shaina(Dwarf) a dense compact small bush form, red all summer, grows to 3-5’
  • Beni Otake (Linearlobum)- upright, red bamboo like leaves, black bark, matures to 12-15’

Variegated trees:

  • Butterfly (Palmate) - pastel white spring, white and green summer, upright form 6-10’
  • Kagiri Nishiki (Palmate) - pink edge changes to cream in summer,12-15’
  • Beni shishihenge (Palmate) - hot pink variegation in spring, fast growing,15-18’
  • Oridono Nishiki (Palmate)-irregular pink spring, white and green summer, 15-18’

Weeping Dissectum:

  • Inaba Shidare (dissectum group) - purple red spring, red summer, 4-6’
  • Tamukeyama (dissectum group) - true red spring, deep red summer, 4-6’
  • Orangeola (dissectum group) - orange spring, to green summer, vigorous grower,4-6’
  • Viridis (dissectum group) - pale green spring and summer, 4-6’

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