Hardy Japanese-type maples in Vermont?

bucklenjAugust 23, 2005

Hi everyone:

This is my first posting having spent a lot of time enjoying the forums here and I hope you can help me out with some advice. I live just north of Burlington VT close to Lake Champlain (within a mile). Temperatures regularly hit -20F in the winter with a record low in the past century of -30F. I'm interested in planting small and Japanese-type maples and I'd like some advice on what candidates are likely to do well for me. I'm planning to plant first on the east and south-facing sides of my garage and later in other areas in the yard.

I'm not planning on planting Acer palmatum unless I can identify some especially hardy varieties (I've heard Emperor I and Robinson's Red are quite hardy and some bloodgood types do grow in Burlington and in Plattsburgh on the other side of the lake). I'm mainly thinking of planting some or all of the following: Acer pseudosieboldianum, A. ginnala, A. shirasawanum, A. japonicum, A. sieboldianum and A. griseum. I'd be very interested in hearing whether you think these plants will do well for me and which specific varieties of these species in your experience are most hardy and likely to prosper. Advice on siting, general care and soil preparation would also be gratefully received!



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riconiferman(z6 RI)

I know I have seen a few in the Burlington area, but can't remember cultivars or varieties. Perhaps you could consult with the U of VT. Another idea, if you have the time, would be to take a trip north to Montreal, and visit the Botanical Gardens there. I would bet you could find quite a few labeled trees.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 11:51PM
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Thanks, those are good suggestions. And, in fact, I recently visited the Montreal Botanical Gardens to do just what you suggest. Having poked through the Japanese Garden I found a sign saying that they dig up their Japanese maples in the winter.

However, in the Chinese Garden (which is really worth seeing) they had an Acer pseudosieboldianum and an Acer sieboldianum, but neither label indicated the variety (actually I haven't heard of any Acer pseudosieboldianum varieties as of yet). There was also an Acer japonicum "Aconitifolium" and a bloodgood Acer palmatum . All of the trees in the Chinese garden were quite large, and I could see no evidence that they were dug up and removed in winter (after a bit of crawling around on the ground under the trees). I will inquire at the University of Vermont and see what they suggest.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 10:54AM
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ron48(z6 Mass. Essex)

Neil, U Maine has a plant hardiness listing of what they are growing.

The Minn. Landscape Arboretun had a list an several Acer p. were on it. I'll try to find it.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 3:37PM
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riconiferman(z6 RI)

All right, I have a few things I managed to dig up from UVM's website.


And this:
is a picture of an Acer palmatum cultivar.

It is part of 'walk 3' on this:


Here is a link that might be useful: UVM Landscape Plant for VT publication

    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 7:53PM
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Hi Ron:

I found a U. Maine list that lists results of hardiness trials. Is that the list you meant? There's a lot of useful information on there, although sample sizes are small. Look's like Acer griseum does ok under what appear to be pretty cold and windswept conditions. The webpage says that someone is doing research on hardiness of Japanese maples and also kalmias. I'll see if I can track them down and bend their ear. Thanks for the lead.

If you can find the University of Minnesota information that would be great. If plants grow there, they'll grow in VT.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 8:06PM
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Hi RIconiferman:

Thanks for the links! I'll get down to campus and check out that walk. I've seen the book you mentioned and it's helpful, but unfortunately it doesn't really get into varieties much and also doesn't deal with some of the species I'm interested in.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 8:28PM
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mendocinomaples(NW CA)

Hi Neil,

A fellow biologist and plantsman living in Sheriden Wyoming zone 4 (elevation 5000' temp down to -17° F with blazing sun in the summer) that likes to experiment has planted the following (with success for several years):

pseudoplatanus 'Prinz Handjery'
rubrum 'Autumn Flame'
ginnala 'Flame'
negundo "Kelly's Gold" , "Flamingo", "Sensation"
rubrum "Northwood"

He is more recently planted: pennsylaticum 'Erythrocladum, Sweet Shadow Cut-Leaf saccharum, Eskimo Sunset, Acer conspicuum "Phoenix and pentaphyllum.

He has planted palmatums but has to bring them in for the winter.

Checking out the colder arboretums is a great idea. If you come up with a list let us know what you find out!


    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 10:51AM
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Hi Robert:

Thanks for the long list. I'm pleased to see your friend has had success with Acer griseum because I'm definitely going to plant a couple of those. Most references list the tree as zone 4 so it should do fine in Vermont and your friend's experience supports that. I was interested to see some of the snakebark varieties in the list. I have some good shade/semishade spots so I'll have to look into acquiring some of them.

I will compile the information as I come up with it and I'll be happy to share it with anyone who's interested. I strongly suspect that thanks to the wonders of genetic variation there are some varieties of mostly not-so-hardy species with zone 5 or 6 designations that will thrive in zone 4. The trick is to identify them.

Unfortunately, zonal designations (useful as they are) put people off planting things that might thrive for them. I suspect that some of that zonal information may also be based on little field data, especially in the case of rarer plants (of which there are many maples) and an initial assessment of hardiness may simply be copied from one source to another and repeated, rather than being based on independent evidence. This can result in widespread "agreement", which may not be justified by much in the way of field results. I guess what this means is that we as gardeners need to be a little adventurous in our planting and that we should share the information about our successes and failures as widely as possible.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 12:54PM
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ron48(z6 Mass. Essex)

Hi Neil, a acquaintance of mine just received his Masters from UVM in plant science or propagation or some thing plant related. He was a walking text book. He's in Connecticut now and I lost track of him.

I was in Burlington for a week when it was -20.

I tried to find that Minn. Landscape Arboretum list, no luck yet.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 3:08PM
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Hi Ron:

Thanks for looking for the list. If you can find it that would be great, but don't go to a lot of trouble. Yes, Burlington can be rather cold especially in January. We're fortunate though that we don't seem to have a huge amount of wind, at least in comparison to the plains and we, at least in the last 100 years, haven't dropped below -30F. I think because we don't get below -30 and have good snow cover that for perennials we're zone 5. Of course, snow cover is of less value for trees and -30F is pretty darn cold.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 8:23AM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

Hi Neil,

Attached is some interesting reading for you. It lists small maples for MN, but doesn't go into much detail on true Japanese maples, saying they aren't hardy. I know for a fact that some people in MN around the twin cities do growth them (zone 4a), so perhaps you might want to post your question on the Minnesota garden forum.

Regarding acer pseudosieboldianum, I currently have one and love the tree. Perhaps some day there will be different cultivars of it with varying leaf shapes and colors.

Best of luck,


Here is a link that might be useful: Small Maples for MN

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 3:19PM
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Hi Glen:

Thanks very much for the link. I'm definitely going to get some of the trees on that list and I'm glad to hear you are so happy with your Acer pseudsieboldianum as that is one I will also be getting.

I recently found the Greer Gardens website and they list a large number of Japanese type maples (not palmatums) as zone 4 hardy and that conclusion is consistent with information I've picked up in dribs and drabs elsewhere. I'm thinking at this pont that I will probably ultimately buy about a dozen or so maples running through a range of size and hardiness ratings from Acer griseum, Acer ginnala, Acer triflorum, Acer shirasawanum, Acer japonicum "aconitifolium" to a couple of small dissected/mounding Acer palmatums, which will be least hardy, but can be most easily artificially protected and will also benefit from the heavy snow cover that we get. I have a good friend in Winnipeg and from what he tells me about winters there, winter in Vermont sounds like a picnic.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2005 at 10:00AM
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newgars(z5a WI)

Monrovia Nursery has introduced a hardy red-leaved Japanese Maple called 'Emperor 1' Supposedly the parent tree is from upstate New York. Has been performing well here in Northeast Wisconsin.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 2:28PM
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Tree_Frog(z5 MO)

Re: Acer triflorum. This maple is always the first to break dormancy at my place, frequently 2 or more weeks before any other Acer. If your site is subject to late frosts, this one will probably suffer, although it's a fairly tough and hardy plant.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 6:11PM
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Hi guys,
I've been saving information about hardier trees and here's some more for your consideration:

Acer pseudosieboldianum False Sieboldianum Japanese maple from China and Korea. Leaves as big as Acer japonicum but on shorter stems. Super amazing fall color. Zone 4
A. carpinifolium, A. tegmentosum, A. truncatum, A. tschonoskii ssp. Koreanum, and Acer 'White Tigress'
Resin from GW recommends: I think A. carpinifolium is attractive, particularly in spring when the leaves are fresh and drooping.
Acer nikoense is superb, with its lovely softly furry leaves.
Acer pensylvanicm 'Erythrocladum'
acer mandshuricum
Acer cuadatum ssp. Ukurunduense: Native to China and will be a tree, possilbly multi-trunked to about7-10m. Bark on young stems is red, especially in winter. Aged bark will be grey and fissured. Flowers are yellow and held upright. Leaves are a yellow to light green. Fall color orange and yellows. Possilby hardy to Zone 4
Acer cissifolium
'Girard's Hybrid' paperbark maple
Acer palmatum ÂRobinsons RedÂ


    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 9:35PM
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esamart(z5 (Finland 2))

I live in Finland and variety of selection is limited. A. triflorum on my garden has been hardy to -30C. During those temperatures the snow is about 0,5 meters, almost two feet. Some branches above the snow dies however.

All my A palmatums and A japonicum Aconitifoliums loose most of the branches which stay above the snow.

In Mustila Arboretum there are A. triflorums, japonicums and sieboldianums which have reported to survive at -40C which equals -40F. Those are no certain varietys but collected seed specimens which Helsinki University searched from cold areas in China and Japan in the 80s.

I would like to get maples which have palmate leaves and very hardy. I think they would richen my garden and maybe in te future might produce more variety if gross pollunation occurs.

Some garden books says that in North America grows wild Acer circinatum "wine maple". I have one in my garden and it has palmate leaves but is a garden variety. Hardiness seems to same as palmatum.

Are there any gardeners which have "just plain hardy rootstock" happily growing in their garden? Don't they still win many others with their leaf shape, aurumn colour and gowing habit?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 12:39PM
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laurampls(4 MN)


I live in Minneapolis and my Emperor I japanese maple has made it through two tough winters with very little snow cover, temps in the teens and twenties and then plummeting down to -15. No dieback to speak of, and it has grown nicely. It is pretty close to the house, and I think because I'm in the city itself I'm pretty close to zone 5. It is a wonderful little tree -- leaves should be fully out next week.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 9:00PM
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newgars(z5a WI)

Report on Asian Maples in Green Bay, WI after a winter in which -13°F was the official low: 'White Tigress', triflorum, manchuricum, koreanum, 'Girard's Hybrid' paperbark, shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon' and 'Aureum' palmatum 'Robinson's Red', truncatum all came through with flying colors.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 7:46AM
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