Most of us are familiar with upright red leaf Japanese maple trees. They are a common sight in front yards and can be beautiful specimens which stand out if taken care of. Commonly these are Bloodgood or Emperor I cultivars which reach to a height of about 20′. However this height and color may not be optimal for your space. If you are considering planting an upright Japanese maple, think about the background behind the tree. If your home is brick, the red leaf will not show up as well as a green or yellow leaf tree will. Also consider the mature size of the tree. Is 20′ too large? Perhaps something smaller would be better suited for your space particularly if it is against a home or planted next to a front door. Upright tree form Japaneses maples are a diverse group and are available in many heights and colors. Here are a few alternative ideas for you:
Beni Otake – 15′. A unique specimen for an upright due to the long linear leaves which resemble bamboo. Foliage emerges a red color that will hold well into the summer. Later in the season Beni Otake turns green with a bronze tint. End of the summer second growth is red while the fall color is crimson.
Butterflies – A pretty, smaller Japanese maple at 10′ – 12′. Butterflies has variegated white and green leaves which are edged in red as they emerge. The size makes it ideal for a small space garden, courtyard or large container.
Coral Bark – Coral bark Japanese maples are named for their colorful red trunk and branches. This give the tree four seasons of interest as the red will stand out during the wintertime. Leaves are chartreuse green to yellow. ‘Bihou’ is a variety which features a yellow trunk and branches.
Full Moon – The Full moon Japanese maples are another small cultivar suitable for container growing or as a entryway specimen. Leaves are bright green to yellow but emerge with red tips, creating a striking focal point wherever this tree is placed. Autumn brings brilliant orange and red colors.
Glowing Embers – 25′ – 30′. A large size green leaf named for the vibrant fall show it puts on. Foliage remains green through summer but in fall changes from red to orange, then back to red and finally orange once again. The trunk and branches are a medium green which provides winter interest in a landscape.
Orange Dream – A small variety at 8′ – 10′ which has a shrubbier form than your classic tree. Spring color is yellow and orange with red margins. As summer progresses Orange Dream becomes more green but will change to a burnt orange in autumn.
Osakazuki – 20′ tall upright with primarily pale green coloring. New foliage is an attractive olive orange. As the fall season approaches, the leaves change to a brilliant crimson red and the color will hold for several weeks.
Seiryu – An upright green with unusual finely dissected, lacy foliage, green trunk and vase shaped form. Spring color is bright green which mellows to a medium green for summer. The fall color is beautiful. First Seiryu becomes purple-red and then the leaves change to bright orange and red. The green bark color stands out during the winter.
Witch’s Broom – Shaina is a red leaf Witch’s Broom Japanese maple while Shishigashira has green leaves. The Witch’s Broom Japanese maples are dwarf trees with beautiful dense foliage. Since they only grow to around 5′, they are perfect for containers or entry ways. Witch’s Broom develops a shrub like habit and they are known for holding their color well in summer.
Trompenburg – 15′- 20′. Red spring foliage changes to an attractive deep purple mixed with greens in summer. The palmate leaves are deeply cut and highly ornamental. Fall coloring is an outstanding crimson red.