Japanese maple for full sun

heidi_wa(z8 WA)August 3, 2008

I'm looking for a medium size Japanese maple that can tolerate full afternoon sun in the Pacific Northwest (northeast of Seattle, specifically). I want a shrub/tree for a prime spot in garden beds I'll be planting in front of our newly completed front porch this fall. The bed is 12 feet deep, and the pergola over the porch is about 12 feet above ground level. The house faces southwest, so it gets full sun almost all day. My rural location and 600 ft altitude make the temperatures a little lower than in the city, and the bed is the one on my property where I'll be putting plants that regularly need supplemental water.

I would like to have about 8-12 feet of height with a vase/upright shape, along with some horizontal element (otherwise I'd choose a witch hazel). I'd like green summer leaves and would prefer a reddish fall color more than yellow. I want more of an airy structure, rather than dense, because I want to see the branch structure as well as see through the tree from my kitchen window to the driveway.

Is this possible? There are so many cultivars that I can't sort through them efficiently, so I was hoping for a narrowed down list to look at.


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Hi Heidi :-)) Long time, no chat! Yes, the list of possible cultivars mattching your requirements is long and throwing out a few names does not necessarily mean those specific trees will be easy to find.

I'd love to help you shop for one :-) Send me an email and we can make plants to meet (not working at the old place any longer, but they still offer the best selection in the area, so we could meet up there). Let me know.......otherwise I'd be happy to give this some thought and get back to you.

Pam - gardengal

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 11:26AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If your site is kept mostly cool and humid in summer through watering you will probably not have a problem with the sunny exposure. Also since you want a green-leaved one you will not be likely to see the problems with fading that often occur with purple-leaved forms in hot locations.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 4:04PM
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Saoshika comes to mind. 10 feet tall, layered but upright form. The green star-shaped leaves are tipped with purple until mid summer. Yellow and orange fall color. I love mine. :-)

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 11:35PM
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I live in a zone 10 (Florida).I know I can Grow a red japanese maple here! BUT! How can I make sure my maple goes into DORMANT mode!lol. Here it begins to get hot around November and it doesnt last to long! If anyone can give me a hand with this question it will be appreciet it!Im new with maples so I need as much help as possible! thanks!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 8:15PM
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heidi_wa(z8 WA)

Regarding my question, I guess the best thing to do is troll the local nurseries this fall and next spring and see what is available. Fortunately there are several with good selection around. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 4:45PM
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The UBC Botanical Garden has a photo gallery of maples you might like to browse through, plus comments from people who actually grow them.




    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 8:52PM
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Tamukeyama comes to mind for me.. as its incredibly heat and sun tolerant here.. I have two one is about 6 ft tall now and is speading horizontally now.. your climate is so much different than mine though I am sure you have many others than would do well there.. having mine survive 100 degree full sun days surprises me daily but I do have to prune each year as many branches dont make it and leaves do burn.. this is so far the only breed that has prospered here in my area outside of Dallas.. most all others burn up and die.. I do have a crimson but it is heavily shaded and will not get to the heights I think you are looking for..

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 12:37AM
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Wow, how ironic. I just left the nursery and discussed this situation exactly. I spied a nice Japanese Butterfly Maple that I was told last week would not take full sun. I came back today and looked at the tag, and it said "full sun".

So we had a conversation about why two different employees say the opposite things. She said the tree comes from the Pacific Northwest, usually Oregon, and full sun up there is not quite the same as here. She said in Washington or Oregon, there is no problem, but here it can be in a hot dry period. The Butterfly (verigated) has green leaves and is 10 foot or so tall. Sounds like just what you need!

Me, on the other hand, am still debating whether it works for me. But I think I'm gonna g for it.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 5:50PM
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I planted a butterfly in full sun about 2 weeks ago and it is pretty happy. Putting on new growth and everything. Beautiful pink, white and green new leaves. The sun is pretty intense here in Colorado too and so far, it seems to be doing great.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 5:56PM
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I was also under the impression that Butterfly doesn't do well in full sun, but I bought one anyway since it is such an attractive tree. It handles sun just fine without any leaf burn at all. I live in Zone 9 in Northern CA and it gets quite hot here, so I am sure it could handle the northwest sun.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 10:56PM
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Could it handle the Texas sun? I would love to add more Japanese Maples to my small collection but all seem to burn to a crisp here.. my Ever Red is not doing well and is starting to look really bad.. I already had to cut a big branch off.. and all the leaves are burning now.. my others are doing ok but even the three Tamukeyama's I have are burning a bit.. my Crimson is fine but its under so much shade now I am not worried about it..

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 2:51AM
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Through my own experimenting, these are the ones that seem to work in full sun here in Colorado:
-Crimson Queen

I have each of these in full sun and the seem to love it. The problem here is winter winds, so I'll be wrapping them up. If you don't have it, a great book called Niwaki by Hobson gives some tips for this.

Anyhow, as you know it is much drier here than eastern Texas but probably somewhat similar to western Texas. I would usually think of Texas as much hotter than Fort Collins, but we just ended a streak of 24 straight days over 90 (F).

The trees needed extra water but seem fine...

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 10:00AM
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Volubile, Kurabeyama, Tamukeyama, Japonicum acontifolium (I think this is Dancing Peacock?), Wou nishiki, Crimson queen;
I planted all of these in Eastern Washington several years ago and so far so good. I sure learned to protect them from the wind more than the sun.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 2:50PM
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heidi_wa(z8 WA)

Butterfly looks like a beautiful tree. I assumed that a variegated tree was out of the question, but I'll keep an open mind. Wind isn't a problem at my location, so that sounds like it will help.

Pam, did you get my email?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 11:39AM
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I think Butterfly might look interesting up close, but from a distance it looks like a dirty mop!! For a variagate, my Kasagiama has been stunning and holds up well in the sun. The spring color is totally unique, and the reticulated leaves with black veins are far more interesting, IMHO!


    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 8:58PM
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Butterfly will tolerarate full sun, and would be green and vase shaped, right height. Beni Shishihenge is similar but adds pink verigation also. If red fall color is not a deal breaker I would suggest 'Winter Flame' (a dwarf version of Coral Bark) 10-12ft. green summer foliage, vase like open shape, tolerates full sun, and has the bonus of beautiful red bark for winter interest. Red Pygmy would also work well.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 7:57PM
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heidi_wa(z8 WA)

Thanks to everyone for their input. I went to a local nursery with perhaps the best selection in the area and came home with a Scolopendrifolium. Its lacy leaves provide good visibility through the tree (so I can see through it to the driveway), and it had the perfect form that I was looking for. And for a double bonus, it was 30% off and fit into my car so I didn't have to drive the truck!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 12:02PM
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I brought a butterfly japanese maple and have been trying to find a place in my yard. I live on the side of a mountain and we battle the wind that comes down the valley from the west and north so I am going to plant mine on the south east corner of the house. it will be protected some but it will get almost full sun in the summer. if someone knows better please let me here from you. I live in zone 7 in arkansas west side. thanks val.1234

    Bookmark   September 22, 2014 at 8:03PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Does Butterfly generally have good Fall color? Nobody mentioned that.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2014 at 9:45PM
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magpiepix 5b/6a

I added Scolopendrifolium to our maple garden this year, as well. Also in full sun. I'm curious to see how it looks as it ages. Some people really rave about it.

Good luck with yours!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2014 at 11:16PM
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