Japanese maple companions - full sun

jill_wingettJune 14, 2013

I love my new Japanese maple, but it's only 3 1/2 feet tall. It will be a long time until it provides shade for anything planted with it! I'm looking for ideas on complimentary plants for full sun. I'd like to do something evergreen, I think. Also, the adjacent bed is all red, white and yellow roses with dwarf blue delphiniums, if that helps : ) the bed itself is about 14 x 6 with the tree in the center. Thanks in advance!!

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Where are you and what kind of maple? Hard to provide any meaningful suggestions without these details :-)

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 4:21PM
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It's a red dragon maple, ultimately 10-12 ft tall. I'm in Zone 5, Indianapolis. Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 8:07AM
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Unless staked, 'Red Dragon' will never get that tall. It is a weeping dissectum - depending on graft location and any vertical staking, the growth habit will be horizontal and cascading, not upward. 5-6' is much more typical.

Generally the mature habit of this tree is in a umbrella or mushroom-shaped form, often with branches that cascade fully to the ground. The only thing I'd consider planting directly under the canopy is some sort of groundcover, preferrably one that will tolerate eventual shade, as that will be the growing conditions faster than you think.

And Japanese maples really dislike any disturbance in their root zone - it can be harmful to the tree as well - so some sort of permanent planting, like a ground cover, is very suitable.

Adjacent to it, you can do anything you want. Dwarf conifers make great companions for JM's and any with a blue-gray tone to the foliage will look geat in contrast to the red leaves. So maybe a Blue Star juniper or a dwarf Colorado blue spruce......?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 5:10PM
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Thanks for your response. The tree is currently staked & I will be VERY disappointed if it only gets 5-6 feet tall! My landscaper, the nursery & the tree tag all said 10-12 feet. Right now it's growing straight up with 3 small branches forming at the top that are pretty much perpendicular to the trunk. If it spreads out from that point & continues to get taller it might be ok. I may have to think about relocating it.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 6:47PM
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Weeping dissectums are considered "dwarf" maples and unless staked to grow vertically, they do not. In the opinion of many JM growers, unnaturally staked weeping dissectums look.......ummm.....unnatural :-) They are not intended to be upright trees.

From Vertrees and Gregory, considered the authoritative JM resource, 'Red Dragon's "growth habit is like a more dwarf form of 'Crimson Queen', a compact, well-branched cascading mound, reaching 2.5 m (8 feet) in height. Prefers ful sun and tolerates frosts but needs protection from cold winds and summer drought. Makes an excellent small garden, rock garden, container or bonsai plant".

I would also add that maximum height is highly dependent on the graft location. Low graft trees without staking may never exceed 4'.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 7:07PM
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