Which varietal will do best in the atlanta area? Want to be sure I get the correct one for georgia.
Any smaller, local nursery probably purchases locally grown stock. Call anyone and ask where they get their stock of Japanese maples.
I worked in a nursery in downtown Atlanta and all our stock trees came from Fayetteville. All the Japanese maples did well here, we mainly had the medium size varieties as the tiny dwarfs were expensive.
I have planted Osakazuki, Hogyoku, Fireglow, Waterfall, Orangeola, Butterfly (not my favorite), Orange Dream, Tsugushigata, 2 Japonicums (fernleaf & vitifolium), and all thrive. Bloodgood is also very common in Atlanta. They are not fussy. I just keep them watered for the first 2 years and then leave them alone. There used to be a great Japanese Maple nursery on Covington Hwy., about 6 miles east of 285. He had (or has - I hope he's still in business) dozens of varieties of both palmatum and japonicum. Pike's also has a very respectable selection. Atlanta is prime territory for Japanese Maples.
I am growing about 40 different cultivars of JM's, including Acer palmatum, A. japonicum & A. shirasawanum and all do well in this area. All are located in areas of all day or afternoon shade during the summer months.
Most of mine are Acer palmatum dissectums, which are small stature or dwarf types and don't tolerate a full sun exposure very well.
I agree with davidcf, that adequate moisture is necessary during the first year or two, until the roots become well established and after that, you would be well advised to deeply water them during long periods of drought. My trees, of all types, are of prime concern during long periods without rainfall. Perennial plants can be easily replaced, but it often requires a lifetime to replace a mature tree.
The nursery referred to above, is the Maple Farm on Covington Hwy, Decatur, owned and operated by Mike Francis.
He has a wide selection of JM's, but be prepared to shell out some serious cash for a large specimen.
There are a number of hobby growers in this area, some offering as many as 150 different cultivars, at very reasonable prices. You can often find them selling at Craft shows, Community garden club sales, Master Gardener or Plant Society fund raisers, etc. Some also advertise in the GA Dept. of Agriculture Market Bulletin, Flowers for Sale section (available online or free subscription).
Here is a link that might be useful: Market Bulletin