- Dwarf Japanese Maples
Dwarf maples grow considerably slower than the majority of Japanese maples do. Many of these varieties are found as slow-growing seedling mutations selected for their densely-set buds and sculptural branching. These varieties are very popular for bonsai as well! Slow-growing maples are the most desirable for urban landscapes or small residential gardens. Their slow rate of growth keeps them from growing to be large trees that produce many leaves or provide unwanted shade.
Green Dwarf Japanese Maples
This species is known as the Trident Maple for its small leaves with 3 short lobes as opposed to the more palmate leaves of most Japanese maples. Light orange-brown twigs have reddish colored buds that give way to glossy green leaves in mid-spring. This dwarf variety is an excellent small tree for a compact garden or in use as bonsai.
Commonly referred to as “Mikawa,” this truly unique dwarf Japanese maple is an excellent choice for small landscapes. This cultivar is one of our favorites, producing layers of small leaves that overlap each other because of close leaf spacing and short petioles. The effect is striking: a rather dense yet sculptural plant with a diverse assortment of leaf size and color. New growth seems to include the whole color spectrum between yellow and green, with older growth turning dark green. In fall, a different color palette takes over, spanning the range between yellow and scarlet.
This sculptural Japanese maple is similar to the popular ‘Mikawa yatsubusa’, but has a more compact branching habit. Tattoo seems to grow more slowly, eventually developing a somewhat rounded crown. Its slow rate of growth makes Tattoo another excellent choice to grow in containers or for bonsai. The prolific flowers not only attract honeybees and other beneficial pollinators but also give way to colorful samaras (seeds) in late summer.
Fairy Hair is such a unique and very slow-growing Japanese maple. This dwarf green cultivar has very narrow, string-like leaves, not much wider than leaf veins. In summer, the thin, fringe-like leaves change from a bright green to have a bit of an orange blush when grown in a sunny location. Fall color is a fiery crimson-red. More sturdy than its deceptively delicate look would suggest, ‘Fairy Hair’ is a selection that will be less than 3 feet tall in 10 years—a true dwarf!
Small crinkly green leaves are densely arranged along the branches. The lack of lateral branching makes the main limbs have a pillar-like appearance, resembling the arms on a saguaro cactus! Leaves are subtly highlighted with an orange color in spring, transitioning to orange and red in autumn.
Little Sango is also known as “Little Coral.” This variety is a slower-growing, denser version of the popular 'Sango kaku' or coral-bark Japanese maple. Bright red twigs and compact growth habit make this uncommon variety especially showy, even in the smaller garden! The winter display is absolutely stunning, and because of its dwarf rate of growth, the red color of the young twigs lasts into maturity better than the full size Sango kaku.
This outstanding small maple really looks like a bonsai. In spring, small peach-colored new leaves are neatly stacked close to one another. The majority of the foliage changes to a light-green color by mid-summer with only the branch tips remaining quite colorful. Mature plants develop quite a sizable trunk with stout branches arranged in a sculptural way. Fall color display is a fiery orange-red!
Although Ryuzu is a dwarf maple, it is a strong grower, quickly developing a nicely structured compact, shrubby tree. Colorful new growth has a mix of apricot tones and light-green color. The leaves and buds are quite densely-arranged, giving this slow-growing maple a congested appearance. In wintertime, the twigs are somewhat orange in color. Easy to grow so it is an excellent choice for new gardeners or for yards that are low on planting area!
Red Dwarf Japanese Maples
There is a great demand for Japanese maples that have rich red color like ‘Bloodgood’ but that do not grow too large. At Conifer Kingdom, we have selected only the best dwarf red-leaf Japanese maples to offer. Read about some of our favorites below!