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Sun Tolerant Japanese Maples

Although some sources list some Japanese maples as sun tolerant, we believe that in the hot, dry foothills and Sacramento Valley, they will all benefit from some shade, especially in the afternoon. If you would like to try some in sunny areas we think that they would do better if there were no grass under the tree, there was 3-4 inches of mulch under the tree (but not touching the trunk), and the area is consistantly kept SLIGHTLY moist (not wet). With correct water practices, many Japanese maples, including many not listed here, will tolerate sun. The following varieties are a few of the more widely available Japanese maples that are known to do well in the sun. Copies of our Sun Tolerant List are available in the nursery office. Lace-leaf, cascading Japanese maples are indicated below with italics.


This is the basic Japanese maple grown from seed, and is not grafted. It also provides the rootstock for all grafted varieties. Although there is some variability, most seed grown Japanese maples will take sun including those with both red and green leaves. Most turn either bright red or gold with red highlights in the fall. and can grown to a height of 20-25 feet.  


The most popular of all red upright maples and is often the tree that most people think of when they think of a Japanese maple, tall and shapely with red leaves catching the sunlight. It holds its deep red color throughout the summer turning bright red in the fall. Viewing the leaves as the sun radiates through them in the summer is a memorable experience. It reaches a height of 20 feet, or taller in the right location. Laurie likes this classic variety. We have a young tree growing on the side of our pond.


These two graceful upright trees are vigorous growers eventually reaching a height of 20 feet, or sometimes more. Really great red color, turning from rosy red in the spring, to plum red ,to bronzy orange as the summer ends, the crimson-pruple in fall. Similar trees. Boskoop Glory is one of Joe's favorite trees. 


Similar to Bloodgood, slightly more upright so we often have these in a multi-trunk version that accents this form. To 20'. Sun enhances the red leaves. Crimson in fall.


This beautiful weeping lace leaf maple that holds its deep red leaf color throughout the summer. It turns bright red in the fall. It is one of the more popular and readily available of the dissected type of Japanese maples. The mature shape is mounding, with very thick leaf coverage. Typical height is in the 5', taller if staked or trained, or with age, and can be kept lower


The tree is similar in appearance to the classic "Bloodgood," however it has has a slightly faster growth rate and leafs out about two weeks later in the spring, an advantage in areas prone to late spring frosts. The deep red leaf color lasts throughout the season. In the fall the leaves turn to a fiery crimson. A vigorous, fast growing Japanese maple. We feel that Emperor I, Red Emperor, and Emperor are various names for the same cultivar.


Also called 'Dissectum Nigrum'. This tree has silvery leaves in the spring when the leaves first unfurl, turning to a good red in spring and summer. Late summer and early fall leaves sometimes change to a bronzy red depending on location, then to a bright red in autumn. Although very old specimens are quite large, typical height on this tree is in the 4-5' range depending on individual shape, training, and staking when young. An Ever Red is growing next to bench in the koi garden.


When backlit by the sun, the leaves glow like shards of stained glass in a cathedral window. The upright tree reaches a mature height of about 12  feet. The shape of the tree is fairly upright, often with a single trunk rather than multi-branching at the base. A nursery favorite.


An excellent cascading red leafed variety whose color lasts well into the summer. It is a bit more upright than other weeping forms with long arching red arms that sweep out away from the trunk. It is especially beautiful when planted on a mount or atop a rock wall where it can cascade. Fall leaf color is brick red. Typical height might be 6' tall, but can be taller with staking or with age, or can be kept lower. A beautiful specimen cascades over the waterfall in our koi garden.


New growth is red, fading to green. New summer growth looks like glowing embers against the green and bronzy green leaves, hence the name. Gold with extensive orange and red highlights in fall depending on location. Upright to about 10' tall. Uncommon. May show leaf burn in the hottest locations. Call for availability.


This is one of the darkest (almost black-red) of the lace leaf maples. It retains this very dark color even in the heat of the summer. The stems of the new growth are dark red. It is one of the fastest growing of the dissectums. The fall foliage is a lovely crimson. Typical height is 6' or so, however can be higher with staking or age, or kept shorter. A specimen is growing near our koi pond.


A smaller version of Bloodgood. Red leaves last throughout the season. Typical height is 10-12'. Takes full sun with sufficient water. Great small tree! Call for availability.


Imagine red on one side of the stem and yellow on the other. Exquisite! The leaves are light green, turning gold in the fall with red highligts. Upright growth to 15-20 feet. Vigorous, puts on growth more quickly than many other Japanese maples. Coral bark eventually turns gray as it matures but new growth is always coral. As with all coral bark maples, the tree may show leaf burn in locations with excessive sun and heat.   


This maple is very similar to 'Bloodgood' in growth habit, color and appearance, although the new growth may be a little bit more smokey-rose. Good deep red color thoughout the summer; it holds its color well. Crimson in the fall. It forms a somewhat narrow upright tree to 20 feet.


An excellent black-red leafed variety.  It holds its color well throughout the summer. It is especially suited to hot climates. The fall color is an intense crimson. It tends to form an open structured, multi-branching small tree to about 15-18 feet tall.  A lovely Moonfire is growing in our display garden and is a nursery favorite.


Spring leaves emerge green suffused with red-orange, but the lovely broad leaves soon take on a rich green color which lasts throughout the summer. The fall colors are shades of rich red. This is a strong growing tree reaching a height of 18-26 feet in a good location. Call for availability.


Wide brick red leaves gradually turn bronze-green by the end of summer. Fall color is a deep rich gold, hence the name 'Ogon' which means 'gold'. To 23'. Takes sun with sufficient water.


Cascading laceleaf Japanese maple with bronze-red, orange tinted leaves turning crimson in fall. Takes sun with sufficient water in most locations.


This cascading tree has lacy orange-red foliage in the spring turning to a rich green in the summer. Fall colors are orange/scarlet. This weeping tree grows into a low mounding shape that is slightly taller than wide. Typical height might be 5' but can be kept lower, or staked higher, or with age. This tree has been newly added to our sun tolerant list at the suggestion of many customers and staff, so we still suggest careful placement and care in the hottest locations.


This is a small, compact rounded tree, typically 12' or so but can reach 18' in the right location. The leaves are rosy red in spring turning to a plum red in the summer.  The fall color is an intense red like a sunset. It is a good small tree for limited space or container.


This Japanese maple has been available for over 100 years. It is best known for its intense fall crimson color. It appears to glow. Some claim that 'Osakazuki' has the most intense coloration of all of the maples. In addition, for a palmatum it has very large leaves. Spring and summer color the leaf color is good rich green. Usually a small tree in this climate, but can reach upwards of 20' in the right location.


Leaves emerge bright scarlet-red, turning to deep red throughout the summer. Holds this color well, then turns an intense scarlet in the fall. Low mounding shape to 4', but taller if staked or with age, or can be kept shorter. Naturally lower  and smaller than similar lace leaf maples.


Smaller upright red leafed tree. Typical height is around 15' with a nice shape. Red leaves turn crimson in fall. Takes sun with sufficient water. One of Laurie's favorites.


Small version of Bloodgood, with an eventual height of 9' or less. Upright and compact. Red leaves throughout the season turn crimson in fall. Great small tree! 


Younger bark is brilliant coral-red in fall and winter; mature bark eventually turns the famliar gray of other trees. The coral coloration of the bark intensifies in the fall and winter. Leaves are green, turning to yellow in the fall making a perfect backdrop to the brilliant coral twigs and branches. Can grow to about 25 feet tall, usually less. Takes some sun but may show leaf burn on the tips in locations with excessive sun and heat if inadequately watered. Vigorous grower. Very popular Japanese maple. We have a young 'Sango Kaku' planted near our office.


This is the only upright growing dissectum among the Japanese maples. It is covered with small, light green, lacy leaves lightly tipped with reddish tints as it first unfolds in the spring. Summer color is a nice, bright green that takes sun well. Fall colors are spectacular and range from solid reds to vivid gold with strong red highlights, depending upon location. It is an excellent addition to the landscape and very different from the usual cascading form expected of dissectum maples.  Mature height is 12-18 feet. A mature specimen is growing in the nursery. The name means "blue-green dragon" and a lovely combination is this "blue green dragon" combined with the lower growing, red leafed "Red Dragon". A nursery favorite.


This dwarf tree has bright red foliage in spring and early summer, changing to bronzy green in late summer with new red growth emerging which provides a lovely contrast. Fall color is a bright crimson. Height is about 6', although it may reach 10' with excellent conditions. The shape is that of a thickly branching, globe shaped shrub or small tree. A mature specimen is growing in our nursery. 


Many of the coralinium-type trees take significant amounts of sun and may be considered for sunny locations. Not widely tested but these trees do take sun, with the right conditions they will take full sun. The spring leaves on these trees emerge neon pink turning to coral pink, soft apricot, and salmon before turning green in the summer. Fall color is bright red. Shin Deshojo is about 10' tall, while Shin Chishio matures to about 16' tall. A mature specimen of Shin Chishio is growing behind our waterfall. A favorite with many of our staff.


Shirazz is vivid pink in the spring with green and cream variegation. Beni Shi En is a rosy pink in the spring with variegation, with the pink deepening to a brick red then fading. Fall color for Shirazz is red, for Beni Shi En is gold. Beni Shi En is typically 18' or so, while Shirazz is shorter. Both take full sun well and have better color in sun. A nursery favorite, these two trees are closely related.


This unusual cultivar has wide leaves with a dark purple-red color, turning vibrant crimson in late fall. The tree is vigorous when young eventually reaching a height of up to 15' with a wide, full upright form. We have a large mature specimen in our nursery.


Field trials indicate that this cultivar may be the strongest and fastest growing of all dissected maples. This old selection, first introduced in 1710 in Japan.  The new growth is crimson red turning to dark purple as the leaves age. It is a superior clone for hotter climates. The bark of the young branches is deep maroon overcast with a whitish tone. Fall leaf color is bright scarlet. The leaf coverage is thick, but not so heavy as to obscure the essense of lovely branch structure in the interior. Usual height is often about 5', but can be trained taller with staking, or with age, or kept shorter.

TOBIOSHO Green leaves in spring and summer turning vivid scarlet and crimson in fall. Outstanding fall color. Mature height is 12-18' and wide. Takes sun but may burn in locations with excessive heat and sun.  


The leaves have a distinctive shape with leaf margins that roll downward. The color is a rich, deep red-purple in spring and summer gradually turning a bronzy green by late summer, then flushing a crimson in the fall. The tree is very upright with horizontal layers of branches and reaches a height of 12-18' or more with a width of 12-15'. It is a rapid grower. We have a mature specimen in out display garden. Takes a lot of sun but may show light leaf burn with excessive sun and heat. 


This maple has larger green leaves than most dissectums. It has a beautiful cascading character with long branches nearly touching the ground. Fall leaf color is vivid gold with crimson highlights where the sun kisses it. Combine with Sango Kaku for a nice combination of leaf shapes and winter interest. Usual height is 5', taller if staked, or with age, or can be kept shorter. Takes sun but may show leaf burn in locations with excessive sun and heat.


Spring foliage is bright yellow-green with rosy-red margins, turning to a nice green in the summer. In the autumn the leaf color is bright crimson. This tree is a small tree at maturity and grows to about 13 feet, with a similar spread. The tree may be left wide and full or can easily be trained into a slightly more open specimen. Two mature specimens are growing in our display garden.Takes sun but may show leaf burn in locations with excessive sun and heat. Call for availability. 

YEZO NISHIKI Red in spring and summer turning to crimson and scarlet in fall. Upright growth to as much as 23' tall, although usually a small to medium sized tree. Rapid growth in the early years. Good red color in some sun, in shade it turns bronzy green to green. We have a specimen tree in our koi gardenCall for availability.

OTHER TREES: Many other Japanese maples will take full sun. The trees listed are only a few of the many sun tolerant Japanese maples.