Growing Zone: 5 – 8
Mature Height: 7 to 8 feet
Mature Width: 6 to 8 feet
Classification: Small tree
Sunlight: Part to full sun
Habit: Deciduous, densely branched.
Flower Color: Insignificant
Foliage: Dark Purple to Red foliage
Soil Condition: Any well drained soil
Water Require: Water well until established.
Uses: Extremely attractive when used as a focal point or a specimen planting, very slow growing
Does Not Ship To: AK, CA, HI, WA, OR, AZ
Dissected forms of Japanese maples such as Red Dragon Japanese Maple are generally grown for their attractive foliage and low-spreading shape. Perfect for use as a specimen or accent around the home or yard or patio. Red Dragon Japanese Maple is perfect for use on the periphery of the border or rock garden. Excellent as an understory plant in a sun-dappled spot that brings color to the otherwise dark shaded areas of the woodland border. Dissected foliage and cascading form can be showcased by planting this cultivar near a pond or water garden. Because of its small size, Red Dragon Japanese Maple is perfect for use in containers.
Planting Red Dragon Japanese Maple:
We suggest when planting your newly purchased Red Dragon Japanese Maple plants that you dig a hole twice as wide as the root system but not deeper. Depending on the quality of your existing soil you may need to add a locally sourced compost or topsoil to the back-fill soil. We do not recommend using straight topsoil or compost as a back-fill soil because more times than not these products will retain entirely to much moisture and will cause the root system to rot. Adding compost or topsoil will help the young feeder roots to spread through the loose, nutrient rich soil, much easier than if you used solely the existing soil which more times than not will be hard and compacted. The most common cause of plant death after transplanting is planting the new plant to deep. That is why we do not recommend planting in a hole any deeper than the soil line of the plant in the pot. A good rule is that you should still be able to see the soil the plant was grown in after back-filling the hole.
Watering your Red Dragon Japanese Maple:
After back filling and lightly compacting the 50/50 mix of existing soil and compost give the Red Dragon Japanese Maple a good deep watering. This is not to be rushed. Most of the water you put on the plant at first will run away from the plant until the soil is soaked. A general rule of thumb is to count to 5 for every one gallon of pot size. For example a one gallon pot would be watered until you count to 5 a three gallon pot would be 15 and so on. Check the plant daily for the first week or so and then every other day there after. Water using the counting method for the first few weeks.
Fertilizing a Red Dragon Japanese Maple:
Feeding your plants is probably the single most forgotten part of growing healthy long lasting plants. When first planting we recommend Bio-tone by espoma.
Maintaining a constant low level of fertility will keep your trees healthy throughout the year. Applying high levels of nitrogen (N) is not recommended. Avoid using high Nitrogen lawn fertilizer on Japanese maples. Japanese maples look best and develop thicker stems when allowed to grow at a slower speed. Applying high amounts of nitrogen will cause excessively fast growth that will weaken the plant. Weak branches can lead to damage if you are located where icing during winter is a problem. Fertilizing your Japanese maple with the proper type of fertilizer should be done either in late winter while the ground is still cold (frozen?), or after the last freeze in spring. I recommend using a slow or controlled release type fertilizer. When using a slow-release pellet-type fertilizer, it is best to bore holes about 6 inches deep into the soil about half way between the main trunk and the drip line of the branches. IMPORTANT: Scattering slow-release fertilizer on the top of the soil does not allow the fertilizer to maintain a constant moisture level inside the pellet, resulting in sporadic and possibly untimely releases. Bore several holes around the tree and divide the proper amount of fertilizer recommended by the manufacturer by the number of holes. Drop the fertilizer into the holes and fill the remainder of the holes with soil. Water around the tree and now the tree is fertilized for an entire year. As the tree grows, the amount of fertilizer will need to be increased. Tree fertilizer spikes also work well and are easy to use. Follow recommended rates based on the tree size.
Important Note: we only recommend using liquid type fertilizer like Miracle-Gro® on Japanese maples during the first summer, and only to help establish the tree. Once you see good growth you can stop liquid feeding. Do not liquid feed in late fall or early spring. Liquid fertilizers encourage Japanese maples to grow instantly, and this is not recommended as early freezes in fall and late freezes in spring will cause damage or kill your tree. We recommend Espoma Tree-tone as a balanced organic fertilizer.
Mulching your Red Dragon Japanese Maple:
We highly recommend that you mulch your Red Dragon Japanese Maple with either a ground hardwood mulch or a ground cypress mulch depending on your local availability. Any type of mulch will do but cypress or hardwood mulch will be of a higher quality and provide better nutrition overall as they breakdown. Mulching helps to keep weeds away which will compete with your new investment for water and nutrients. A 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch is sufficient but remember to take care not to cover any part of the stem of the plant with mulch. Its better to leave a one inch gap of space between the mulch and the stem or trunk of the plant.
Pruning your Red Dragon Japanese Maple:
Japanese maples such as Red Dragon Japanese Maple are not especially particular as to when they are pruned; however, spring is generally not a good time as new growth and sap are beginning to develop. Winter and summer are commonly accepted as good times to prune. The winter is probably the best time as it is easy to see the branches and growing structure of the tree. Summer, on the other hand, allows for a more accurate gauge of which branches need to be thinned. It is important to be careful of the temperature when pruning in the summer, however. Removing thicker areas of foliage can reveal previously shaded areas and invite scalding by the sun.
Pruning the upright Japanese maple involves four main steps. The first is to prune off lower limbs that crowd other low-growing shrubs or possibly impede a walkway. Next, prune off dead wood — that is, any dead twigs or brittle branches that no longer grow foliage. The third step is to separate the tree into layers. Remove branches that intrude into the layers above and below them. The final step is to evenly thin the branches. Remove some small lateral branches and keep others for an overall thinned out look. The ideal appearance is to have fewer branches that fill all the empty spaces.
Lace leaf Japanese maples such as Red Dragon Japanese Maple are slightly more complicated than their upright cousins. Gardeners often fall into two camps with these trees. The first camp refuses to prune the trees at all, resulting in a great ball of foliage. Gardeners belonging to the second group tend to prune too much and end up with very little. The truth falls somewhere in between. It is important to preserve this tree’s natural harmony and facilitate a shell-like growth.
Start with pruning dead wood and cutting back any dragging or low branches. Avoid pruning thicker branches that are more than half the diameter of the trunk. Remove branches that do not conform to the aesthetic appearance of the tree. Branches that do not curve or divide can be pruned. As with the upright trees, separate the layers and remove branches that do not naturally follow the pattern. Thin the lace leaf trees similarly to the upright trees. The final step is to create a veiled top layer; a curtain that shields the rest of the foliage but has a uniform look is ideal.
It is best to prune Red Dragon Japanese Maple in the late spring or early summer when temperatures are below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
History and introduction of Red Dragon Japanese Maple:
Acer palmatum has been cultivated in Japan for centuries and in temperate areas around the world since the 1800s. The first specimen of the tree reached England in 1820. When Swedish doctor-botanist Carl Peter Thunberg traveled in Japan late in the eighteenth century, he secreted out drawings of a small tree that would eventually become synonymous with the high art of oriental gardens. He gave it the species name palmatum after the hand-like shape of its leaves, similar to the centuries-old Japanese names kaede and momiji, references to the ‘hands’ of frogs and babies, respectively.
For centuries Japanese horticulturalists have developed cultivars from maples found in Japan and nearby Korea and China. They are a popular choice for bonsai enthusiasts and have long been a subject in art.
Numerous cultivars are currently available commercially and are a popular item at garden centers and other retail stores in Europe and North America. Red-leafed cultivars are the most popular, followed by cascading green shrubs with deeply dissected leaves.
Preparations from the branches and leaves are used as a treatment in traditional Chinese medicine.