Is there an upright Red Japanese Maple that thrives in Zone 9???

atexaninphillyJune 1, 2007

I never saw red-leaved trees growing up in Houston, Texas. When I moved to Philadelphia 2 years ago I loved the red Bloodgoods that grow so well here (Zone 6), and planted one in my front yard.

In 2 years, I will be moving back to Houston (Zone 9) and want to plant a few saplings now to bring back with me, but the summers are hot down there.

The Arbor Day Society website says acer palmatum red Japanese Maples only thrive in Zones 5-8. There is an acer rubrum "October Glory" Maple that is for Zones 4-9, but that is a big shade tree.

Does anyone know of a 15-25 foot upright red-leaf Japanese Maple that can thrive in Zone 9? Some websites say the Emporer cultivar is "more tolerant of sun" than Bloodgood.


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I'm not so sure about 'emperor I'/'red emperor' being more sun tolerant than 'bloodgood'. However, if you plant the tree where it will get several hours of afternoon shade it should survive with some leaf damage in August. I wouldn't plant a small tree in those conditions, a 5 to 10 gal tree should be used since it would be a bit more adaptable to the heat IMO.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 7:57PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

We have a 25 yr old Bloodgood that we have to prune to keep about 15 ft. high. We are in Zone 9(San Jose, CA). It loves it here, but we don't get as hot as you will in Houston.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 12:42AM
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Mountain Maples (located in California) has an excellent listing of J. maple cultivars that are most suited to hot, dry climates. Yes, JM's can be grown in climate zones higher than 8 - they are all over Southern California (zone 10), but more in the coastal areas than inland. There are some obvious considerations to keep in mind, such as correct siting as matt has indicated, as well as providing sufficient irrigation.

Personally, I'd question the rationale of maintaining any JM at half its intended height through repetitive pruning for any purpose other than bonsai. But that's just me :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Mountain Maples

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 9:06AM
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Babka NorCal 9b


The "rationale" of planting a Bloodgood came from the Sunset Western Garden Book, which said it grows to a 15 ft. height. The tree was readily available from local nurseries, we didn't have the room or the $$ to experiment with special varieties and Bloodgood was supposed to get only 15 feet tall. A larger tree would throw it out of proportion to our space. We did not at the time have your extended expertise regarding japanese maples. We do however, have 30 years first hand experience with about 9 of them growing in zone 9. So what I have learned from that experience is what I was offering here. You have a LOT more space than we do.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 1:20AM
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I live in Dallas and can offer my firsthand experience with Japanese maples in Texas for what its worth. Bloodgood take the sun as well as any red upright. (And I'd plan on something more along the lines of 20ft. at maturity not 15ft.) Afternoon shade and proper watering will be the key to success. Japanese maples do well in Texas with either dappled sun all day long or morning sun with afternoon shade. I don't know that Emperor is any more/less sun tolerant than Bloodgood but it is more heat tolerant holding its red color longer into the summer. Another one you might consider is Fireglow. Again, it is not any more sun tolerant than the others but it will hold its red color better than Bloodgood or Emperor. Fireglow is a smaller tree though, about 12ft. at maturity.

I don't agree with the comment above about going to with a larger specimen because it'll weather the summers better. My experience in Texas has been to start with younger plants so they get used to Texas climate from the beginning. Certainly give it a shot, but your plan of starting saplings in Philly and relocating them to Houston after a couple of years may not prove successful. The climate change may do them in especially if you move them during the summer. I'd keep them in pots for a year or two when you get back to Houston. That way you can better control their transition to the new climate. Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 3:54PM
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