How Tall Do Japanese Maple Trees Grow? Exploring Their Range of Sizes

This easy-care tree, prized for its leaf colors, comes in many shapes and sizes Trending Videos

Japanese maple trees originated in East Asia and are often part of traditional Japanese landscaping and garden design. Japanese maples are often used in bonsai because they are easy to take care of and have beautiful fall leaves.

Different types and cultivars of Japanese maples range in height from 2 feet to 25 feet. These trees grow slowly to moderately, adding about 1 to 2 feet each year, depending on the best conditions for growth.

Japanese maple tree sizes can range from a miniature dwarf tree to a shrub to a small tree. The shape can be round, mounding, vase-like, cascading, or upright. It may also have a weeping form. Common types have names that describe their colors, like Bloodgood, Crimson Queen, and coral bark Japanese maple trees.

The Japanese maple tree is renowned for its striking leaves. Japanese maple leaves have five to nine palmate lobes that may come in green or red (or both). Japanese maple leaves change bright colors in the fall, like red, orange, yellow, or purple. The leaves’ textures are also different, with wide lobes, finely dissected lobes, and a lacy, wispy look. Small, ugly flowers are red or purple. They turn into a dry, winged fruit or samaras, which are half-inch long helicopter seeds named for how they spin in the wind when they fall from trees.

Plant Japanese maple in the spring or fall. Japanese maple trees are easy to grow, hardy, and don’t need much care after the first few years. Just make sure to give them extra care during those years.

Japanese maple trees are prized for their graceful shape, stunning fall colors and versatile sizes – but exactly how tall do these popular landscape trees get? Keep reading to learn the typical sizes of Japanese maple trees and how to pick the right one to fit your space.

The Natural Height of Japanese Maples

In the wild, Japanese maple trees (Acer palmatum) reach mature heights of 20 to 35 feet Occasionally they may even surpass 40 feet tall

Native Japanese maples often grow multiple trunks rather than a single central leader. Their bark starts out green, red or pinkish on new growth, then transitions to grayish bark on older limbs.

So in their natural state, Japanese maples are medium-sized trees. But through selective breeding over centuries, many more compact cultivars have been developed.

The Range of Japanese Maple Sizes

Thanks to this extensive breeding work, there’s now a tremendous variety of Japanese maple sizes to choose from. Here’s an overview of their height range:

  • Dwarf Japanese Maples: 2 to 10 feet tall at maturity
  • Small Japanese Maples: 10 to 15 feet tall
  • Medium Japanese Maples: 15 to 20 feet tall
  • Large Japanese Maples: 20 to 25 feet tall
  • Giant Japanese Maples: Over 25 feet tall (less common)

Within each size class there are weeping, upright, mounding, and other forms. Foliage also varies dramatically, from fine laceleaf types to trees with large, deeply lobed leaves.

So whether you need a delicate mini maple for a courtyard container or a bold specimen to anchor your landscape there’s a Japanese maple for you!

Picking the Right Japanese Maple Height

When selecting a Japanese maple, think about your space and how large you want the tree to ultimately become. Here are some typical uses for different sizes:

  • Dwarf Japanese Maples – Excellent for containers, borders, Asian-style courtyards, bonsai, and small urban spaces. Try ‘Shaina’ or ‘Coonara Pygmy’.

  • Small Japanese Maples – Ideal for Asian gardens, courtyards, containers, and smaller residential landscapes. Consider ‘Villa Taranto’ or ‘Red Dragon’.

  • Medium Japanese Maples – Perfect as specimens, for informal groupings, residential areas, and parks. Look for ‘Sumi nagashi’ or ‘Wolff’.

  • Large Japanese Maples – Best for parks, large properties, and commercial landscapes. Try ‘Bloodgood’ or ‘Emperor I’.

  • Giant Japanese Maples – Use as striking focal point trees where they have room to grow. ‘Osakazuki’ is a good example.

No matter which you choose, provide ample space between the maple and other plants or structures. Leave a clearance equal to at least half its expected mature width. This prevents crowded, weak growth.

Factors Affecting Japanese Maple Height

While Japanese maple sizes are somewhat predictable based on cultivar, a few factors can alter their potential height:

  • Growing Conditions – Optimal sunlight, soil, water, and climate encourage the most vigorous growth. Subpar conditions may result in a shorter tree.

  • Pruning Practices – Regular pruning removes some upward growth, keeping trees lower than their natural height. Let trees grow unpruned for maximum height.

  • Container Planting – Constraining the roots limits energy available for upward growth. Japanese maples grown permanently in pots will stay quite small.

  • Bonsai Culture – The bonsai gardening practice manipulates plants to remain miniature through pruning, root reduction, and other techniques.

Soil quality, weather, and care routines all interact to determine the ultimate size of any one tree. But generally Japanese maples will reach close to their expected potential stature if grown in ideal conditions.

Typical Height by Japanese Maple Variety

To give you a better idea of the range of sizes, here are examples of some popular Japanese maple varieties with their typical mature heights:

Dwarf Japanese Maples

  • ‘Coonara Pygmy’ – Up to 8 feet tall
  • ‘Kagiri Nishiki’ – Up to 8 feet tall
  • ‘Red Dragon’ – Up to 5 feet tall
  • ‘Velvet Viking’ – Up to 4 feet tall

Small Japanese Maples

  • ‘Villa Taranto’ – Up to 8 feet tall
  • ‘Crimson Queen’ – 8 to 10 feet tall
  • ‘Autumn Moon’ – Up to 10 feet tall

Medium Japanese Maples

  • ‘Sumi nagashi’ – Up to 15 feet tall
  • ‘Wolff’ – Up to 15 feet tall
  • ‘Shishigashira’ – Up to 15 feet tall

Large Japanese Maples

  • ‘Bloodgood’ – Up to 20 feet tall
  • ‘Emperor I’ – Up to 15 feet tall
  • ‘Coral Bark’ – Up to 25 feet tall

Giant Japanese Maples

  • ‘Osakazuki’ – Up to 25 feet tall

As you can see, there’s tremendous variety among Japanese maple heights. With so many sizes, forms, and leaf shapes available, you’re sure to find one that suits your landscape vision.

Pruning to Control Japanese Maple Height

Occasional pruning is useful for maintaining the desired shape and size of a Japanese maple. Here are some tips:

  • Let young trees establish undisturbed for at least 5 years before pruning.
  • To reduce height, cut back upper branches to just above a lower branch.
  • Never remove more than 20% of the tree’s branches in one season.
  • Prune in late winter before spring growth begins.
  • Avoid removing low interior branches that protect the bark from sunburn.
  • Always use clean, sharp bypass pruners to make clean cuts.

With judicious pruning, you can contain the size of large varieties. But it’s best to select a cultivar suited to your space so pruning stays minimal.

Prepare the Right Growing Conditions

While Japanese maples adapt to various sites, they’ll reach their full potential stature in ideal growing conditions. Here’s how to set young trees up for success:

  • Plant in lightly shaded sites or where they’ll get morning sun and afternoon shade.
  • Select a spot with shelter from strong winds.
  • Prepare the soil by mixing in organic matter like compost.
  • Water thoroughly after planting and as needed the first few years.
  • Apply an organic mulch layer around the base to conserve moisture.
  • Fertilize lightly once each year during spring.

Meeting these basic care needs will give your Japanese maple the best chance of growing to its expected mature size and keeping its dazzling good looks.

Add Stunning Japanese Maples to Your Landscape

With their artistic shapes, stunning foliage, and versatile sizes, it’s easy to see why Japanese maples are treasured landscape trees. Take your time to pick just the right cultivar for your specific needs. Then plant it in a suitable spot, water it consistently, and give it a bit of early care. Before you know it, you’ll have a beautiful maple gracing your outdoor space!

Twig Kill

Twigs dying is usually a sign of insufficient water. Water the tree slowly but deeply to restore its vigor and repeat it regularly to prevent a recurrence.

How to Plant

Once youve found the perfect spot, dig a hole three times the width of the root ball. Set the root ball in the center of the hole, slightly above the soil line. Backfill whats left of the hole with the same soil. Water it thoroughly.

How tall will my Japanese maple grow?


How long does it take for a Japanese maple to grow to full height?

Japanese maples can grow to 8m (26ft) in fifty years, depending on growing conditions, but most are small, slow-growing trees rarely more than 1-2m (3¼ft-6½ft) in height – ideal for the smaller garden or a container. After thinking about what height and shape you would like, think about the leaf colour.

Do Japanese maples grow fast?

Most Japanese maples grow at a slow to moderate rate of 1 to 2 feet per year. They typically grow fastest when they are young and slow down as they reach maturity. Planting them in a spot where they are happy and caring for them well helps maximize their growth rate.

Do Japanese maples like sun or shade?

Ideally, they should be placed in a spot with dappled shade. Japanese maple foliage is prone to leaf scorch in hot and dry locations in full sun. Scorched leaves develop brown margins and often drop from the tree by mid to late summer.

How tall will a dwarf Japanese maple get?

Dwarf Japanese maples are slow-growing, compact trees that grow to about 3 to 8 feet in height, depending on the cultivar. They tend to have small leaves, short internodes and profuse branching.

How big do Emperor Japanese maple trees get?

Emperor Japanese Maple trees grow in an attractive upright form with a wide crown that doesn’t require pruning. Their leaves look like pointed, small-scale versions of traditional maple trees and look like an outstretched hand. Emperor Japanese Maples are compact trees, growing to 12-15 feet tall with a 12-15 foot spread.

How big do Japanese maple trees get?

Let’s explore their dimensions: 1.**Height**: The size of Japanese maple trees varies significantly based on the specific **variety and cultivar**.Here’s a range: – **Minimum Height**: Some dwarf varieties

Are Japanese maple trees hardy?

In gardens Japanese Maples are hardy form zone 5 to zone 8, with some being hardy into zone 9. Some varieties will thrive in zone 4 as well. In areas that are too cold the branches may suffer from damage in winter and die, although often the main stems will re-sprout.

How fast do Japanese maple trees grow?

These trees have a slow-to-medium growth rate, growing about 1 to 2 feet annually, depending on optimal growing conditions. Japanese maple tree sizes can range from a miniature dwarf tree to a shrub to a small tree. The shape can be round, mounding, vase-like, cascading, or upright.

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