By Robert Cox, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Horticulture
Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) are a bit difficult to grow in the Denver area because of our climate, high sunlight intensity and alkaline soils that are low in organic matter. Japanese maples prefer part sun to filtered shade and acidic soils (pH < 7.0) with higher levels of organic matter. Because they leaf out early, young leaves are prone to cold damage from our inevitable frosts in April.
There are a few around Denver that look pretty good, usually in protected spots. If your site for the tree is in an older, long-established neighborhood where some garden cultivation has taken place over a long time, the soils may be less alkaline or even slightly acidic. There are hundreds of cultivated varieties, of these many are lacey or cutleaf varieties (dissectums). Size varies at maturity from 8-15 feet, leaf color is either green or purplish in the growing season, yellow to orange and red in fall.
Photos: Judy Sedbrook
© CSU/Denver County Extension Master Gardener 2010
888 E. Iliff Avenue, Denver, CO 80210
Date last revised: 01/05/2010