Find out how to Develop Coral Bark Japanese Maples

Acer palmatum

Again after I was in highschool, there have been a good variety of jocks, i.e. sport-playing athletic individuals. And whereas the single-sport youngsters made it fairly far, it was the multi-sport of us who have been the best athletes.

Those who performed a special sport each season had probably the most adaptability, cross-conditioning, and all-around bodily awesomeness.

Equally to those athletes, crops that carry out properly in each season are probably the most exemplary.

A vertical image of a large coral bark Japanese maple tree with fall colors pictured on a blue sky background. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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One such plant is the coral bark Japanese maple, which – as well as to beautiful spring, summer time, and fall foliage – additionally appears wonderful in winter.

Even when defoliated throughout dormancy, the coral pink younger development supplies all of the splendor you may ask for within the low season.

On this information, we’ll present all the knowledge required to develop this excellent sort of Japanese maple your self.

Right here’s a preview of every part I’ll cowl:

What Are Coral Bark Japanese Maples?

“Coral bark Japanese maple” is the widespread identify for varied cultivars of A. palmatum with this characteristic.

A close up horizontal image of the green foliage of a coral bark Japanese maple tree growing in the garden pictured in bright sunshine on a soft focus background.

What makes coral barks so particular? I’m glad you requested! However right here’s a prerequisite primer:

As autumn attracts close to, the leaves of deciduous bushes equivalent to Japanese maples lose chlorophyll in a course of often called senescence, which reveals carotenoid, anthocyanin, and xanthophyll pigments inside the leaves.

This leads to the beautiful shades of pink, yellow, orange, and purple that we see within the fall foliage of deciduous bushes.

A close up horizontal image of a coral bark Japanese maple tree with fall colors growing in the garden with a park bench in the background.

The downside of this senescence is correct there within the identify: the gradual deterioration that comes with age. This culminates within the leaves beginning to drop, finally leaving a tree fully defoliated by the point winter rolls round.

And except the tree has an aesthetic development behavior or bark to take a look at, then it’ll type of simply… exist within the panorama with out contributing a lot to the surroundings.

Fortunately, coral barks have the colour and a usually upright branching development behavior to attract the attention, even throughout the dormant season.

A close up horizontal image of the bright red ornamental stems of a deciduous coral bark Japanese maple tree growing in the garden.

The rising behavior of ‘Sango Kaku’ is upright and vase-shaped, for instance, whereas different cultivars with this characteristic might have a broad or rounded behavior.

These kinds show the coral colours of the younger branches prominently for all to see – it’s the final word decorative alley-oop!

Throughout their first and second years of development, the branches are a wealthy coral pink shade, which stands out starkly within the dreary winter panorama. The colour of the trunk and older branches varies, relying on the cultivar and specific specimen.

Generally shade fades in a gradient, finally leading to a brown to grey hue, whereas in different specimens the colour stays simply as distinguished as bushes age.

Add to that the beautiful foliage – gentle inexperienced in spring, altering to a darker shade of inexperienced in summer time with shades of pink, orange, and/or yellow showing in fall – and also you’ve bought a plant with year-round visible curiosity.

That is unusual for a deciduous tree, which makes a coral bark a unbelievable decorative addition to the backyard in all seasons.

Cultivation and Historical past

Like most types of A. palmatum, coral barks are finest grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to eight, and their heritage traces again to a area encompassing China, Japan, and Korea. As a complete, Japanese maples have been cultivated in Japan for hundreds of years.

A vertical image of the foliage and stems of a coral bark Japanese maple tree.

Northern Eire’s Daisy Hill Nurseries launched the favored ‘Sankaki’ cultivar for business sale within the UK within the Nineteen Twenties. A while after, it was renamed ‘Sango-Kaku.’

It was below this moniker that it obtained the Award of Backyard Advantage in 1993 from the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society – a prestigious award from a distinguished group.

In the USA, this cultivar has turn into a beloved selection. However there are different cultivars to select from as properly, which we’ll cowl under within the Cultivars to Choose part.


It’s finest to propagate this selection by rooting cuttings or through transplanting, which we’ll cowl right here.

I’m hesitant to advocate rising from seed due to any potential genetic variance that would depart you with a less-than-glorious tree that doesn’t share the identical qualities because the mother or father.

These strategies will even provide you with outcomes far more shortly than beginning crops from seed.

However for those who’d like to provide it a attempt to you’re desperate to see what sort of outcomes you get, you’ll be able to be taught all about rising Japanese maples from seed in our information.

From Cuttings

This technique is so simple as taking softwood cuttings with a sterilized blade, making use of a rooting hormone to the ends of their defoliated decrease halves, and rooting them in an applicable rising medium.

A close up horizontal image of the branches of a coral bark Japanese maple tree pictured on a soft focus background.

From there, you’ll harden them off outdoor in spring till they’re conditioned to outlive exterior. At that time they’re prepared for transplanting into their everlasting location.

For a extra in-depth breakdown of the method, you’ll discover directions within the propagation part of our information to rising Japanese maples.

From Transplants

That is undoubtedly the easier of the 2 choices. It’s a matter of buying a transplant, digging a gap that’s barely bigger than the scale of the basis system, decreasing the plant in, backfilling with the dug-out soil, after which deeply watering it in.

If you choose a big transplant to start with, chances are you’ll need to recruit some assist with planting or take into account hiring knowledgeable.

Staking younger transplants throughout the first 12 months or two after planting might help to guard them in opposition to harsh winds.

You’ll additionally need to hold the soil evenly moist for a number of years after set up till the transplant turns into established, at which level you’ll be able to scale back supplemental irrigation.

Find out how to Develop

It could be a disgrace for the potential of this stunning tree to go to waste on account of improper cultivation. With these pointers, you’ll be capable to get it proper the primary time.

Local weather and Publicity Wants

As acknowledged earlier, these bushes have to be cultivated in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to eight for optimum development.

A horizontal image of a 'Sango-Kaku' coral bark Japanse maple tree growing in the garden.

Select a location shielded from sturdy winds, and be sure you present a full solar to partial shade publicity.

Soil Wants

Superb soil for this selection should drain very well. However one of many strengths of the coral bark Japanese maple is its capability to develop in excessive textures equivalent to heavy clay, so don’t be harassed in case your soil doesn’t drain like a colander.

A vertical image of the fall foliage of a coral bark Japanese maple growing in the garden.

These bushes can even tolerate sandy soils, leaving you with loads of choices for planting.

Soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5 is finest for optimum development, though this selection isn’t too choosy and might tolerate values exterior this vary.

Irrigation and Fertilizer Wants

As soon as it’s established, a coral bark Japanese maple prefers reasonable ranges of irrigation, so water deeply each time the highest few inches of the soil dry out.

This kind can also be fairly drought tolerant, so don’t fret for those who neglect about watering from time to time as soon as bushes are established.

Japanese maples aren’t heavy feeders, so maintain off on supplemental fertilization throughout the first 12 months of development. After that first 12 months, fertilize in early spring simply previous to leaf emergence.

A close up of the packaging of Osmocote Plus Indoor and Outdoor plant food isolated on a white background.

Osmocote Plus Plant Meals

A splendid product for the job is that this all-purpose, controlled-release granular fertilizer from Osmocote, which is out there in eight-pound packages at The Dwelling Depot.

It would assist to lift soil nutrient ranges and feed your tree for as much as six months!

Be taught extra about fertilizing Japanese maples in our information.

Rising Suggestions

  • Shield bushes from sturdy winds.
  • Present well-draining soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5.
  • As soon as established, irrigate each time the highest one to 2 inches of soil really feel dry.

Pruning and Upkeep

Wounded maple bushes bleed sap fairly excessively, so it’s finest to prune an Acer in late fall or winter to maintain sap loss to a minimal. Sick, lifeless, or dying branches are an exception, and these must be pruned immediately.

Detailed Japanese maple pruning directions will be present in our information.

A close up horizontal image of the green foliage of Acer palmatum 'Sango-Kaku' growing in the garden.

Suckers might come out of the soil close to the trunk periodically, and seedlings might sprout in locations the place you don’t need them to. The previous must be lower down as low to the bottom as you’ll be able to, whereas the latter must be pulled everytime you occur to see them.

A couple inches of mulch unfold close to the trunk will assist with weed suppression, moisture retention, and regulating the temperature of the soil.

Not too close to the trunk, although – this could suffocate and waterlog the roots. To keep away from this, depart a number of inches of clearance between the trunk and any adjoining mulch.

Frost harm can present up in coral bark maple bushes as browned, blackened, or shriveled foliage, which isn’t an aesthetic take a look at all. Fortunately, the foliage often regrows after broken leaves fall.

To stop frost harm within the first place, plant coverings will be draped over small, younger bushes, which are usually probably the most weak. Set yours up like a teepee with a flared base to seize rising warmth.

Leaf scorch can be a problem, particularly in youthful bushes which are harassed by a very heat surroundings or a scarcity of water.

This exhibits up as browned leaf suggestions, together with chlorosis or additional browning between leaf veins.

In addition to paying additional shut consideration to a coral bark’s water wants throughout scorching and dry intervals, mulching as described might help to stop leaf scorch by conserving soil moisture.

Cultivars to Choose

If A. palmatum bushes have been your generic fruit-flavored sweet and coral barks have been Skittles, then the next cultivars can be the particular Wild Berry, Tropical, and Bitter Skittles amongst them: hyper-specific sorts of an already fairly specific sort of sweetness.

Convoluted metaphor apart, listed here are some beautiful coral bark maple cultivars to think about:

Aka Kawa Hime

Rising seven to 9 ft tall and 5 to 6 ft large at maturity, ‘Aka Kawa Hime’ is a small coral bark that packs decorative magnificence in a compact package deal.

Hardy right down to Zone 9, this cultivar’s spring yellow-green leaves flip full-on inexperienced in summer time, then take a golden-yellow shade tinged with pink in fall.

A close up of the foliage of 'Aka Kawa Hime' growing in the garden pictured in light filtered sunshine.

‘Aka Kawa Hime’

A type akin to an upright vase form ensures that regardless of its diminutive dimension, ‘Aka Kawa Hime’ nonetheless stands proudly. Timber in one- and three-gallon containers are out there from Maple Ridge Nursery.


Proper out of the gate, you’ll discover that ‘Beni-Kawa’ has salmon-red bark, which is a nice deviation from the everyday coral pink.

Upright and vase-shaped, with a top and unfold of 5 to fifteen ft at maturity, this cultivar has foliage that emerges a red-tinged gentle inexperienced in spring, matures to a darker inexperienced in summer time, and transforms to disclose a shiny golden-yellow come autumn.

It’s fairly powerful to burn out on coral pink bark… however for those who do, ‘Beni-Kawa’ will present some selection that’s a number of shades darker.

A close up of the foliage of 'Beni Kawa' Japanese maple growing in the garden.


Maple Ridge Nursery provides ‘Beni-Kawa’ specimens in starter pots and three-gallon containers.


If you need even extra distance from coral pink hues, the scarlet bark of ‘Eddisbury’ is simply what you’re on the lookout for.

Bronzed-green spring leaves, shiny inexperienced summer time leaves, and crimson-edged golden-yellow fall foliage come commonplace on the ‘Eddisbury,’ together with a 10- to 15-foot top and six- to 10-foot unfold when absolutely grown.

A close up horizontal image of the yellow foliage of Acer palmatum 'Eddisbury' pictured in bright sunshine on a blue sky background.
Photograph through Alamy.

With an upright type that broadens out with maturity, this cultivar provides a red-barked different to the pinkness chances are you’ll want a break from.


The award-winning ‘Sango-Kaku’ reaches heights of 20 to 25 ft and spreads of 15 to twenty ft. Its spring foliage emerges in a pinkish-yellow shade, matures to gentle inexperienced in summer time, and adjustments to a lightweight yellow autumnal shade earlier than the leaves drop.

‘Sango- Kaku’ means “coral tower” in Japanese, which describes stated bark and this tree’s branching behavior completely.

This upright vase-shaped behavior and iconic coral pink bark shade – together with the foliage – additional cement this cultivar because the undisputed poster baby amongst coral bark maples.

A close up square image of the red stems and green foliage of a 'Sango-Kaku' coral bark maple.


To accumulate one for your self, sells specimens in two- to four-foot sizes.

Winter Flame

At a top of eight to 10 ft with a diffusion of six to eight ft, ‘Winter Flame’ is only a bit larger than ‘Aka Kawa Hime.’

As the one entry on this checklist to have a broad and rounded rising behavior as an alternative of an upright one, ‘Winter Flame’ is ideal for once you need a coral bark maple with a bit extra girth in proportion to its top.

Spring, summer time, and fall foliage stand out in successive shade adjustments from lime-green to plain inexperienced, and at last in shades of yellow to orange to pink earlier than the arrival of winter.

A close up of the green foliage of 'Winter Flame' coral bark Japanese maple growing in the garden.

‘Winter Flame’

Snag a ‘Winter Flame’ so as to add to your backyard from Maple Ridge Nursery.

Managing Pests and Illness

It’s necessary to make use of sterilized instruments, disease-free soil, and in any other case sanitary gardening practices to stop an infection and infestations from occurring.

Plus, caring on your crops correctly ensures that they’ll be wholesome sufficient to battle off any pests or ailments that occur to strike.

There are not any notable herbivores to fret about, fortunately! In reality, coral barks are particularly proof against rabbit harm.

A close up horizontal image of an Acer palmatum tree growing in the garden pictured in bright sunshine.

Aphids, invasive shothole borers, leafrollers, leafhoppers, and mapleworms are all creepy-crawlies that warrant protecting a watch out for. Our information to Japanese maple pests covers these and extra.

Relating to illness, keep on excessive alert for anthracnose and bacterial blight, in addition to frost harm and leaf scorch.

You possibly can be taught extra about Japanese maple ailments in our information. (coming quickly!)

Greatest Makes use of

A coral bark Japanese maple is simply too handsome to function something lower than an alluring specimen, so place it in a spot the place it is going to be a primary focus within the panorama.

A vertical image of a large coral bark Japanese maple tree growing in the garden.

These bushes present year-round visible curiosity, so select a location the place yours will be considered and loved all through every season of the 12 months.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Sort: Deciduous tree Flower/Foliage Colour: Crimson, purple/inexperienced, yellow, orange, pink (coral to pink bark on new development)
Native to: China, Japan, Korea Tolerance: Clay soils, deer, drought, rabbits, sandy soils
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 5-8 Upkeep: Average
Season: Spring (fall foliage, winter bark) Soil Sort: Fertile, sandy, silt loam
Publicity: Full solar to partial shade Soil pH: 5.5-6.5
Planting Depth: Depth of root system (transplants) Soil Drainage: Properly-draining
Spacing 5-10 ft Makes use of: Specimen, year-round curiosity
Top: 20-25 ft Order: Sapindales
Unfold: 15-20 ft Household: Sapindaceae
Progress Price: Gradual Genus: Acer
Water Wants: Average Species: Palmatum
Frequent Pests and Illness: Aphids, invasive shothole borers, leafrollers, leafhoppers, mapleworms; anthracnose, bacterial blight Cultivars: Aka Kawa Hime, Beni-Kawa, Eddisbury, Sango-Kaku, Winter Flame

A Horticultural Breakthrough

Whether or not it was the results of breeding or somebody occurred upon them in a stroke of genetic luck, coral bark Japanese maples broke new floor within the gardening world, providing year-round attraction.

To not undersell the foliage, after all – the huge vary of leaf colours on a ‘Sango Kaku’ or one of many different beautiful varieties which are out there is tough to beat.

A close up horizontal image of the pink bark and green foliage of a coral bark Japanese maple growing in the garden.

I’ve spent a fair proportion of time finding out Acer palmatum, and that is the good sort of Japanese maple that I’ve come throughout, palms down.

I say this with out hyperbole: including a coral bark to your panorama is perhaps among the best gardening selections you’ll ever make.

Any questions on, insights on, or experiences with rising this plant ought to go within the feedback part under!

If this information has whet your urge for food for extra Japanese maple know-how, satiate it with these guides subsequent:

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