The Japanese Weeping Maple – A Quick Read Before Buying!


The Japanese weeping maple is a deciduous tree that is iconic to the Japanese scenery. These weeping maples are hardy, slow-growing, and produce changing foliage based on the season. If you’re looking to give your garden an extra Asian touch, the Japanese weeping maple is an excellent choice!

The scientific name for the Japanese weeping maple is Acer palmatum var. dissectum and is more commonly referred to as the Japanese Laceleaf Maple. A distinctive feature of this deciduous tree is that it produces arching branches that look like waterfalls, hence the name ‘weeping’ maples. The Japanese weeping maple is often used as a gardening ornament by showing off its dark red colors during the autumn season.

The purpose of this article is to help you decide whether you should invest in a Japanese weeping maple. These plants are incredibly slow-growing and take years to establish firm structure and roots. It’s no surprise that a matured weeping maple can easily cost over 100 US dollars. Let’s dive into the maintenance requirements to see whether these plants are worth your hard-earned dollars.

Weather Conditions

The Japanese weeping maple needs to sit in a location where it can take in half a day of sun. They don’t like being exposed to excessive sunlight. These plants do not have thick waxy leaves to protect themselves from water loss from the leaf surface and so are susceptible to being scorched.

If you don’t have a planting spot with half a day’s sun, you can still grow the Japanese weeping maple in a pot. The plant needs to keep away from gusty winds and dry sites. Growing in a pot will provide you with the flexibility of moving the plant around the house, depending on weather conditions. Personally, I raise my weeping maple in a pot for this very reason. Using wood chips or mulch will help retain soil moisture and keep roots cool.

Below is a table of various weeping maples and their recommended hardiness growing zones:

Weeping Maple VarietyHardiness
Inaba shidare5-8
Tamukeyama5-9
Crimson Queen5-8
Waterfall5-8
Red Dragon5-8
Viridis5-8
Lion Heart5-9
Ever Red5-9
Orangeola6-8
Red Select6-8
Seiryu6-8
Source

Soil

The Japanese weeping maple does not require regular watering as long as they’re kept slightly moist. These maples are pretty adaptable to any soil, but light and fluffy soil with good drainage are ideal; these guys don’t like keeping their feet too wet. They grow well in sandy loams and don’t require a lot of fertilizer to grow well. Depending on weather temperatures, watering once or twice a week is sufficient to keep the maple hydrated.

General Maintenance

The Japanese weeping maples are very slow-growing trees that do not require frequent pruning. In fact, it’s best to keep pruning to a minimum and, if needed, should only be done in late fall to mid-winter; pruning in spring or summer often results in significant bleeding.

As you can see, the Japanese weeping maple is reasonably low maintenance, provided that you can find the right spot for a balance of sun and shade. Let’s have a look at some weeping maple varieties that are available in the market.

Japanese Maple Varieties

There are several weeping Japanese maple varieties with varying colors to choose from. These weeping maples share similar visual effects of drooping branches. Here are just a few examples:

1. Inaba Shidare Japanese Maple

The Inaba Shidare Japanese Maple prides itself on being able to produce beautiful dark red foliage. Its leaves are divided into five to seven lobes that have many cuts. The young leaves of this maple grow bright red. In midsummer, the red color transitions into a dark red wine color. Towards the fall, the leaves turn greenish-red, and they turn bright red again in the fall.

This weeping maple is considered a dwarf Japanese maple because it usually only grows up to five feet tall and spans six feet wide. As the plant matures, the maple branches out in a mushroom shape and eventually drags downward due to the weight of the leaves.

This weeping maple provides a stunning red contrast against the generic green garden. Bringing one of these Inaba Shidare Japanese Maples into your home will surely get your visitor’s attention and have them talking!

2. Red Filigree Lace Japanese Maple

The Red Filigree Lace Japanese Maple is similar to the Inaba Shidare variety in terms of color but has much thinner leaves. Almost no other japanese maple variety has such finely-cut foliage as the Red Filigree Lace Japanese Maple. This weeping maple is arguably the best variety for growers who do not have much sun at home(e.g. apartment residents), as this tree can grow in the shade all day long. It’s also one of the smallest maples, with the height and width usually growing no more than three to four feet after 10 years of cultivation.

3. Waterfall Japanese Maple

If you’re looking for something more dramatic, consider the Waterfall Japanese Maple. In the fall/autumn, the branches produce flaming orange leaves that resemble a volcanic eruption.  It transforms itself back to its natural green color for the remaining seasons before blending into its signature orange for the fall.

Photo by Ross Munro

The Waterfall Japanese Maple does well in full sun and semi-shade. Though, similar to most of the maple family members, its leaves are susceptible to scorching if exposed to excessive sunlight and dry winds.

Related Questions:

1. How big does a weeping Japanese maple get?

The weeping Japanese maple generally reaches a height of about 7 feet and a diameter of 11 feet. The weeping maple varieties are overall more petite than the other maple varieties with an upright growing structure. Weeping maples grow their branches downwards, which means their height is limited.

2. How long does it take a weeping Japanese maple to grow?

Like other maple varieties, the weeping Japanese maple is an extremely slow grower reaching up to about 7 feet in its 10 years of maturity. If you’re looking to add a weeping Japanese maple into the garden, it’s recommended that you buy one that is already established. These maple trees take several years to grow into their mature form. 

Conclusion

Before investing in a Japanese weeping maple, you need to consider whether you’ve got a suitable spot for the tree to absorb half a day’s worth of sun. You might find it more convenient to plant one in a pot if you live in a region with changing weather conditions.

Japanese weeping maples don’t require a lot of time commitment as they don’t need frequent pruning. Just plant them in well-draining soil, keep them relatively moist, and they’re happy campers! If this sounds like a tree you could maintain, it may well be worth your investment to add a beautiful miniature japanese tree to your garden. 

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AskthePlantician

Hi I'm Mike, a self-proclaimed plantician (an invented profession to describe a plant enthusiast). Based in Sydney Australia, I enjoy the great outdoors and the greenery things around the garden, in particular, indoor climbing plants.

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