Tag Archives: weeping japanese maples

What plant is “Not as easy as it looks”?

Mature Weeping Japanese Maple

What plant is “Not as easy as it looks”?

I’m talking about some plants look absolutely beautiful, but hard to use in design.  Acer palmatum, commonly known as the Weeping Japanese Maple is one of those types of plants.  I guess this is only true if you are designing for your landscape to look better over time. 

Weeping Japanese Maples look totally different in their first 5-10 years than they do 20 years out.   This plant looks so small and cute when it is young.  Because it has such a beautiful texture and color, it is often planted next to houses, walkways and patios.  People fail to image what this plant will look like as it matures.  There is nothing more disappointing to me than to cut down a plant just as it is starting to mature.

You may be saying Thanks Brad, so how do I design with a Weeping Japanese Maple?  I love them.  Assuming you have the right culture for this plant, I would image this plant 10’-15’ wide and tall.  I know they can get taller and wider, but this should be adequate.  I would not place any permanent plantings that would infringe in that space for at least 15 years.  That will leave you with a very large space between the Weeping Japanese Maple and the surrounding plant materials.  I often fill these spaces with temporary plants (3-5 years), easy to transplant or less expensive plants.  Some of my favorite choices would include: 

Grasses like Pennisetum sp. – Dwarf Fountain Grass; Perennialslike Amsonia hubrichtii – Blue Star or Calamintha nepeta ‘White Cloud’; Shrubslike Butterfly Bush or Deutzia gracilis ‘Nikko’.  I also like to fill the space with groundcovers like Cerastium tomentosum – Snow-in-Summer, Vinca minor – Myrtle.

Maybe this is easier than I thought…