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Japanese Maples in zone 4

Posted by orion7595 4b (My Page) on
Sat, May 23, 09 at 13:15

I live in La Crosse, WI---zone 4B, but often enough 4a. I hear that a few varieties of Japanese maples are hardy in Minneapolis, which is definitely in zone 4. When I hear questions about Japanese maple hardiness in zone 5 or 6 I wonder under what conditions or just what varieties have been tried. Last winter was bitterly cold here. It bottomed out at -26 degrees. Most of the Japanese maples in our river valley city survived with no-die back. These were 'Bloodgood' and 'Emperor 1'. A few did die completely. Over the past 25 years I have experimented with Japanese maples in this area. I have lost more than a few, but another that has survived for six years here (and some gnawing by rabbits) is a mounding laceleaf variety, I think it is 'Red Dragon'. At a former residence a huge JM leafs out year on end. It is at least 12 years old, in a protected area quite near the foundation of a house with a heated basement, and has survived temperatures of -30F. It looks like a atropurpurum variety, but I have little more information as it was purchased at a Walmert in Manchester, Iowa. Again, as has been noted in other blogs, certain varieties of JM are much hardiest than what is imagined. When it gets cold here in late November or December, it stays cold until March. We usually have snow cover, but not always. For months on end we do not get warmer than the 30s.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Japanese Maples in zone 4

  • Posted by ltruett Zone, 9 Houston (My Page) on
    Sun, May 24, 09 at 10:28

I lived in Rio (outside of Madison,WI) for a few years and before I left this past year planted a lot of JM seedlings and Shantung seedlings around the farm. FIL was there recently and not surprisingly the JM apppeared not to have made it but a bunch of the Shantungs were starting to leaf out. I'll get a better report later this summer when he goes back.

RE: Japanese Maples in zone 4

Your summary describes what I see in Minneapolis. It is real hit or miss on what lives. From my experiences it seems a combination of choosing the right varieties and planting location. We bottomed out at about -25 this past winter in my yard Emperor I (winter #2) had about 50% dieback on it. Others I have seen this spring are fine, but have been in the ground longer.

RE: Japanese Maples in zone 4

In these climates, if you can "micro-climate" some of these trees they seem to be quite hardy and do very well. This will all depend on the wind situation in your particular house or property. Japanese Maples can survice very low temperatures but if the windchill is significant, they are in trouble.
In Maine, I have 16 different japanese maples in a ESE direction with the house blocking the N and NW winds in winter. Many of these trees are 8 years old now and thriving. They are all too large to attempt to protect.
Included are Viridis, Katsura, Crimson Queen, Butterfly, Purperea, Waterfall, Red Dragon, Tromenberg, Ever Red, Fullmoon, Japonica and many others.
Red Dragon actually is past the block of the house and gets the NW wind and seems to be as hardy a palmatum as I have ever seen.

Good luck with yours.

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