Help me plant a dwarf maple?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Connor Sullivan, Aug 24, 2022.

  1. Connor Sullivan

    Connor Sullivan Active Member

    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    152
    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    Hey everyone!

    I have a little spot in my front yard i'd like to plant a small dwarf maple, or something that can be managed in a small area.

    This location is about 4ft to a nearby Shishigashira in a hot afternoon spot, so the maple will need to be heat tolerant.

    My ideas are: (I'd like your personal recommendations too)

    Baldsmith
    Hana Matoi
    Dwarf Japanese White Pine?

    Thank you! IMG_1635.jpg IMG_1634.jpeg IMG_1633.jpeg
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,941
    Likes Received:
    654
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    If the 'Shishigashira' is doing well there then it is not too hot for any other Japanese maple. Except for particular ones that might be more delicate than usual. Other than that the former is going to get a lot bigger than it is now over time - anything you put only 4 ft. away from it is eventually going to end up underneath it. Finally if you are worried about the spot being hot loading it up with rocks will make it hotter than otherwise.
     
    AlainK likes this.
  3. maf

    maf Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,045
    Likes Received:
    1,663
    Location:
    Northamptonshire, England
    I think something with dense foliage that naturally stays on the smaller side would look good there, and cope with the sun. Witch's brooms in red would be a good contrast such as 'Pixie' or 'Shaina' or loads of other similar ones, or alternatively a hime such as 'Kiyohime' or 'Murasaki kiyohime'...

    The way 'Shishigashira' grows in upright fashion, it is not going to overgrow that spot to the extent that it will exclude the possibility of a good looking dwarf maple there as a companion. Especially as it looks from the angle of the sun in the photo's as if the planting spot is still going to get plenty of sunlight.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,941
    Likes Received:
    654
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    The vase shape your 'Shishigashira' already has will continue into the future. From the top of the short trunk it has now outward. And like most trees the crown structure will become broader with age. Otherwise a tree and shrub collector in Tacoma had one some years ago that he said measured 33 ft. tall. So even if the average crown spread of this example was only half that of the height it was still over 16 ft. across. In addition plenty of photos of how this variety develops with age are on the web - you can use those to see what to expect.
     
    Connor Sullivan likes this.
  5. maf

    maf Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,045
    Likes Received:
    1,663
    Location:
    Northamptonshire, England
    These two are the shape I expect from a mature 'Shishigashira'. The second one I believe to be over a century in age. They are relatively slow growing and more amenable to underplanting than most JM's due to the upright/narrow vase shape and bunching foliage. Perhaps not ideal, but certainly possible, and of course if the other maple planted is a dwarf it would not be too much of a hassle to dig it up in a couple of years if it became clear that the combination was going to be too cramped.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,941
    Likes Received:
    654
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2022
  7. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,393
    Likes Received:
    1,283
    Location:
    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    @maf - could you make your photos a bit larger? :-)
     
  8. Connor Sullivan

    Connor Sullivan Active Member

    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    152
    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    I appreciate the responses and I’ve noted your concern Ron.

    I could always prune the Shishigashira to my liking, there was a member of our forum who recently posted a Shishigashira pruning video and they have kept theirs a very manageable size.

    I also have access to a Tattoo and a Mystic Mikawa, those stay fairly small… :)
     
    maf likes this.
  9. emery

    emery Renowned Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    3,225
    Likes Received:
    2,874
    Location:
    Normandie, France
    I don't think any JM will thrive in the full sun, actually I suspect 'Hana matoi' would struggle. 'Shishigashira' is about as sun accepting of a green JM that I know, I suppose because of the small leaves and dark green color.

    Whatever maple you decide to put there, naturally 4 ft is very close indeed, and it may be that in 10 years you'll need to dig it up. But in the meantime, it will look nice and full. Most people do have the perception that JMs aren't that big, but even the mound forms can fill up a 10ft wide space (and more) given some time. So folks plant too tightly, then regret it. On the other hand, some don't want to wait 20 years to see a fuller garden, so they plant closer and move maples in and out; this can be a reasonable approach to a small-medium garden given adequate soil. I planted at about 12 ft in the old part of our Aceretum, and it has taken 20 years for some, but not all, of it to grow in and look like something.

    What I'd do in your place is look for maples that support sun really well and don't grow fast, I think 'Baldsmith' would outgrow the space in 3 years. But I like 'Pixie' or 'Mikawa yatsubusa', both of which withstand sun really well, in this spot.
     
    Connor Sullivan and maf like this.
  10. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,941
    Likes Received:
    654
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Connor is located in the Willamette Valley, where large quantities of Japanese maple cultivars have been produced commercially in open fields - note that the 'Shishigashira' he is showing here does not show any discernible burning in his picture. Note also it is growing like a weed - it is both doing well on the proposed planting site for the other maple and not going to take multiple decades to become significantly larger than it is now. With planting a dwarf tree where it will end up beneath this larger one being also a two aspect issue. Because it is not just a matter of the growing conditions problem resulting from the smaller of the two becoming overtopped and shaded, there is also the visual impression created by this pairing. The generation of a mama and baby (because both are Japanese maples) or David and Goliath combination. With packing together single individuals of what read as trees in particular having been described as "a cluttered effect", one-of-everything displays of diverse plants referred to as resulting in "horticultural indigestion".

    Moving back to growth and maintenance as the focus Vertrees wrote in Japanese Maples (Timber Press, Portland) that the way to have a bunch of them all together on less than acreage was in fact pruning. So I would suggest reading what he had to say about that - if you are determined to continue to present a closely planted collection effect. Because you (Connor) will have to undertake this with a certain finesse resulting from being well informed on the topic if you are going to retain a semblance of the natural habit of each variety yet at the same time restrain its growth.
     
  11. maf

    maf Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,045
    Likes Received:
    1,663
    Location:
    Northamptonshire, England
    This was what I was getting at. I appreciate @Ron B 's concerns and agree that for a forever planting or an arboretum setting it would be far too close. Most people in a home garden environment with restricted space will prune and/or move dwarf maples to keep them in bounds.
    Indeed, 'Shishigashira' can be managed easily with pruning. Some variation in growth rate might be expected depending on how vigorous a rootstock it was grafted onto, but would be easy to manage in that space and allow for another small maple nearby.
    Yes, 'Baldsmith' and the like are too fast growing. I think a red like 'Pixie', or the numerous other brooms, would look great with 'Shishigashira'. 'Mikawa yatsubusa' or similar could handle the sun but being so close to 'Shishigashira' in terms of colour and foliage bunching would result in a bit of a double denim look.
    This was posted after I started typing my reply... so may make some of what I am saying a duplication... but totally agree, Vertrees' advice on pruning is worth reading.

    One other thing I wanted to mention is that in a forest setting trees grow to fill the space between each other and can often be found growing quite close. The habit of a tree in an arboretum with some mowed grassland between it and its nearest neighbour is not necessarily equal to the habit that tree would have in nature.
    lol, I linked the url's of a couple of photo's I uploaded last year, but it seems when you do it that way (instead of re-uploading) they appear full size and not thumbnail. (Conversely, if the thumbnails are linked then they cannot be expanded in size so are useless.) The photo's are on my phone and I was on my computer, so it was easier to put the links in rather than doing a double device post and edit!

    Apologies for the long post, just lots of interesting comments and I felt like responding to most of them
     
    Connor Sullivan and Margot like this.
  12. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,941
    Likes Received:
    654
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    I've worked in multiple different nursery settings. Including independent garden centers. And my experience is that most people choose and arrange plants as though they were pieces of furniture or other static objects. Instead of living things that will increase significantly in size afterward. And that what is undertaken in response to the inevitable loss of the original scheme is destructive practices like out of context formal pruning (maintenance shearing per the Plant Amnesty membership organization, an entity which exists in the first place due to the prevalence of overplanting and the resultant bad pruning) and topping to control size. Hence my prior emphasis on the importance of learning how to prune the maples to prevent them from growing together without deforming them markedly.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2022
  13. Connor Sullivan

    Connor Sullivan Active Member

    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    152
    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    Thanks everyone for the detailed input!

    I'm going to take Ron's advice.

    Indeed, the Shishigashira is growing like a weed... this years new growth was explosive with at least 20-25 new shoots (12"-15").

    I do have a Mikawa planted in the next bed that is exactly 8ft away measuring from trunk to trunk. So there is a little bit of a "double denim look" going on... hahaha.

    The Mikawa put on 6" of new growth on only a few of its branches.

    Here is a picture showing both beds with the Mikawa in the background (April 2021)

    IMG_4487.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2022
    Otto Bjornson, maf and AlainK like this.
  14. Otto Bjornson

    Otto Bjornson Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    401
    Location:
    chilliwack BC, Canada
    as @maf mentioned, either pixie or shaina would do well in full sun. We have mature specimens of both in full sun. And personally, considering your space restrictions, I would go with Shaina.
    This one in our garden is well over 20 years old, full sun and with selective pruning still approx 2 1/2' in height ( 80 cm), and just over 3' (one metre) in width

    Also beautful fall colour constrasts with shaina and shisshigashira.

    And regarding the shishigashira, very easy to keep in a compact form with selective pruning on a regular yearly basis. I do have a new video on the shishigashira posted on my channel as well
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 4, 2022
    AlainK and Connor Sullivan like this.
  15. Connor Sullivan

    Connor Sullivan Active Member

    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    152
    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    Thanks for the response! I definitely had your garden in mind, I've seen how you keep your older maples well pruned to their spaces.

    I've decided to go with a Japanese Dwarf Pine for the space, it's small and slow growing so it should be hassle free for the most part.

    Otherwise, Shaina is a great tree for that place. I've also been eyeing the Hime Shojo off Mr. Maple, looks to be a nice compact red too.

    Acer palmatum 'Hime shojo' Dwarf Red Japanese Maple
     
    Otto Bjornson and AlainK like this.

Share This Page