Native to Japan, Korea and China, Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum) include a rich variety of deciduous shrubs or small trees with graceful habits, elegantly cut leaves and extraordinarily colorful foliage, particularly in the fall when the leaves warm up to dazzling shades of golden-yellow, red-purple and bronze, before shedding to the ground.
A single Japanese Maple placed in a prominent place attracts attention from every part of the garden. While extraordinarily good-looking on their own, Japanese Maples however, look more charming when planted with companion plants. Well-behaved, they make perfect partners with other plants and help create strikingly beautiful combinations in the garden.
Japanese Maples are exceptionally beautiful in mixed borders or underplanted with companion plants. They can adapt to a wide range of cultural situations, are shallow rooted and not serious competitors with companion shrubs.
- Japanese Maples are easily grown in moist, organically rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soils. Great companion plants are those sharing the same cultural requirements. Among the acid-loving plants are Rhoddendrons, Azaleas, Kalmia latifola (Mountain Laurel) and dwarf conifers. Hellebores (Helleborus) are great Japanese Maple partners since they share the same growing conditions. The most popular Hellebore varieties are the Lenten Roses (Helleborus x hybridus or Helleborus orientalis) which are available in a rich array of colors including pink, purple, red, white, green, apricot and yellow. Flowering a month or so earlier are the Christmas Roses (Helleborus niger) with their pristine white to pink-tinged white blossoms.
- Low-growing spring bulbs such as Crocus, Cyclamen, Scilla (Squill), Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow), Erythronium (Dog Tooth Violet), Anemone blanda (Grecian Windflower), Iris reticulata (Dwarf Iris), Leucojum (Snowflake), Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite) and Narcissi (Daffodil) will create a flowering carpet and provide eye-catching color to your garden at a time when it is still dormant.
- Add foliage plants such as Heuchera (Coral Bells), Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' (Black Mondo Grass), Ferns with their graceful fronds, Hostas with their smooth leaves, Carex (Sedges), ornamental grasses with bright golden foliage such as Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' (Hakone Grass), to carry the display over the year.
- Complement with groundcovers such as Pachysandra terminalis (Japanese Spurge) or Tradescantia (Wandering Jew).
Find below several plant combination ideas with Japanese Maples.