Okay, I admit I'm stretching this just a bit. You can grow a maple indoors--a bonsai maple. You can also grow maples in a container on a balcony porch.
Japanese Maples for Containers
The Acer Palmatum, commonly called Japanese maple, is native to Japan, North Korea, South Korea, eastern Mongolia and southeast Russia. It has been cultivated in Japan for centuries but the first known specimen didn't reach England until the last 1800's. There are over 1000 cultivars! How's that for choices. Even better is that "any Japanese maple can be grown in a container . . . some will outgrow their pots more quickly than others," according to Todd Boland in his article on Japanese Maples For Containers on Dave's Garden.
To inspire you:
I've successfully grown two Japanese maples in containers. One was a five-foot green bark Japanese maple. Eventually, I planted it in the ground when I had moved to a single family home. (I would be very happy if anyone could accurately identify its species name.). My second maple which I have now is an Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku,' commonly called coral bark Japanese maple (It's hardy in zones 5-8, see detailed specifications at Dave's Garden). It's about 2-1/2' high. This will be my fourth year with this darling. I had re-potted it the third year, early spring before it had "awaken" from its winter dormancy. I'll be posting pictures of my porch garden later. In the meantime to the right here is a close-up image of a coral bark maple--bright chartreuse five-palm feather leaves against a deep coral bark. It blooms lovely tiny flowers that hang like bells. This is my second coral bark maple but the first was transplanted in a ground soon after purchase from a garden center. And yes, I do love the coral bark maple, below you can see why.
Here is a wonderful Sap App application that I encourage you to try it out. It was created by and resides at the website of Davidsans Japanese Maple to help you select the best Japanese maple for your environment and terrace/balcony design. You enter features your looking for from winter hardiness to tree size to seasonal color to leaf type. With each selection, a list of Japanese maples is displayed along with its description and then an image of the leaves.
Japanese maples are deciduous, meaning they drop their leaves in the fall. Flowers tend to be insignificant. However, they offer a wide range of characteristics from which to choose and for which they are highly valued:
- Leaf colors. Two main colors can be found with wonderful variations in spring, summer and fall showings from green, chartreuse to red to blood-red. Fall colors can range from red to pink to yellow/gold to orange.
- Leaf shapes. This will vary from the basics which are palmatum (palm shaped) to Japonicum ("leaves deeply incised and bright red in autumn") to the Acer shirasawanum (nine-lobed shaped fingers). Also, there are dissected (lace-like leaf shape) to a bamboo shape to reticulated (visually pronounced network of veins).
- Size and Profile Shape. This can range from a 1' dwarf to a 12' tree, including upright, dome (or bushy) and weeping.
Here are just six examples of leaf patterns and colors of Japanese maples.
For a more complete list of dwarf japanese maples suitable for containers, check out Mendocino Maples Nursery.
Japanese Maples for Bonsai
Japanese maples are well know for their graceful and architectural presence in bonsai gardens. A discussion on this topic deserves a post all on its own. A good place to start is an article by Bonsai For Me.com on Japanese Maple Bonsai.
Personally, I don't have the courage to try a bonsai from scratch. But should I decide to try a bonsa, I would buy one already established.
Bonsai Japanese maples to inspire you:
Japanese Maple Tree Wall Deca
Finally, there is one more option for getting a Japanese maple tree into your small space: on your wall.
Do you already have a Japanese Maple in your small space?
This post was updated and relocated from my blog at annsliees.com.