Coral Bark Maple Trees: Tips On Planting Coral Bark Japanese Maples

Coral Bark Maple Trees: Tips On Planting Coral Bark Japanese Maples

By: Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Snow covers the landscape, the sky above stark, with naked trees gray and bleak. When winter is here and it seems that all the color has been drained from the earth, it can get pretty depressing for a gardener. But just when you think you can’t stand this depressing view any longer, your eyes fall upon a leafless tree whose bark seems to glow in a reddish pink color. You rub your eyes, thinking winter has finally driven you mad and now you’re hallucinating red trees. When you look again, however, the red tree still sticks out brightly from the snowy backdrop.

Read on for some coral bark tree information.

About Coral Bark Maple Trees

Coral bark maple trees (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’) are Japanese maples with four seasons of interest in the landscape. In spring, its seven-lobed, simple palmate leaves open in a bright lime green or chartreuse color. As spring turns to summer, these leaves turn a deeper green. In autumn, the foliage turns golden yellow and orange. And as the foliage drops in fall, the tree’s bark begins to turn an attractive reddish pink, which intensifies with the cold weather.

Winter bark color will be deeper the more sun the coral bark maple tree receives. However, in warmer climates they will also benefit from some dappled afternoon shade. With a mature height of 20-25 feet (6-8 m.) and spread of 15-20 feet (4.5-6 m.), they can make nice ornamental understory trees. In the winter landscape, the red-pink bark of coral bark maple trees can be a beautiful contrast to deep green or blue-green evergreens.

Planting Coral Bark Japanese Maples

When planting coral bark Japanese maples, select a site with moist, well-draining soil, light shade to guard against the intense afternoon sun, and protection from high winds that can dry the plant out too quickly. When planting any tree, dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball, but no deeper. Planting trees too deeply can lead to root girdling.

Caring for coral bark Japanese maple trees is the same as caring for any Japanese maples. After planting, be sure to water it deeply every day for the first week. During the second week, water deeply every other day. Beyond the second week, you can water it deeply once or twice a week but back off on this watering schedule if the tips of the foliage turn brown.

In spring, you can feed your coral bark maple with a well-balanced tree and shrub fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10.

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Read more about Japanese Maple


Different Types of Maple Trees with Pictures

Maple trees are the most commonly grown shade trees across North America, and they are loved for their stunning fall foliage colors. Despite being deciduous, many maple trees have attractive bark on both branches and trunks that make them a point of interest throughout every season. Maple trees are very easy-to-grow and can adapt well to a range of soil and lighting conditions.

1. Paperbark Maple

Scientific Name: Acer griseum

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8

Mature Size: Up to 30 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining

This tree is a small, deciduous maple tree, which is native to China. It has many appealing qualities that have resulted in it being awarded the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society. The trunk and branches of the tree are covered in brown bark that is constantly peeling away in spiraled ribbons to reveal bright red bark underneath. Like most maple trees, the foliage has three deep lobes. Leaves are dark green on the surface and blue-green beneath throughout fall and summer, then warm up to shades of red and orange in the fall before dropping.

This is a slow-growing tree that must be grown in moist conditions and cannot tolerate drought. It adapts well to clay or heavy soils and should be kept in a full sun or partially shaded position.

2. Full Moon Maple

Scientific Name: Acer japonicum

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-7

Mature Size: Up to 30 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, acidic, organically rich

Varieties: Acer japonicum ‘Green Cascade’, Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’, Acer japonicum ‘Vitifolium’

This is a small, deciduous tree native to Japan. It also goes by the common name of ‘Amur Maple.’ It is widely cultivated across North America and Europe as an ornamental plant, often grown as a shrub. The plant has rounded, palmate leaves, which emerge green in spring and become bright red and orange in the fall. When young, the foliage has soft downy hairs, but by summertime the leaves are smooth.

These are low-maintenance plants that need little care and pruning. They enjoy moist, well-draining, slightly acidic soil and a position of full sun or partial shade. For best leaf color, some shade is best, especially in hot climates where scorched foliage can become an issue.

3. Norway Maple

Scientific Name: Acer platanoides

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Mature Size: Up to 100 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Most soil types

Varieties: Acer platanoides’ Crimson King’

This is a large species of maple that can grow up to 100 feet tall, though more commonly does not exceed 50 feet. It is native to a broad area across Europe and some of Asia and was introduced to North America in the 1700s. This tree has a slender, elegant trunk with a broad, rounded canopy. The bark provides some interest during winter when the foliage falls from the tree, with a silver-gray bark that is grooved. Foliage is dense, and each leaf is large, measuring up to seven inches across, with five lobes. The leaves emerge dark green and develop to yellows, oranges, and browns in the fall.

This is popularly grown as a shade tree due to its large and dense crown. This tree has a spreading nature, and as such, has become invasive in some states in the US, including New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. It is tolerant of a wide range of soils, as well as drought and heat.

4. Red Maple

Scientific Name: Acer rubrum

USDA Hardiness Zone:

Mature Size: Up to 120 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Most soil types

Varieties: Acer rubrum’ October Glory’, Acer rubrum ‘Sun Valley’, Acer rubrum’ Autumn Spire’

This tree is native to North America, and it is one of the most widely grown deciduous trees across central and eastern Canada and the United States. It is quite fast-growing, forming a pyramid shape when young and maturing into an oval crown. In spring, on bare branches, red flowers emerge that develop into red fruits. Leaves also emerge red shortly afterward, maturing to deep green during summer. The foliage develops further to shades of red and yellow in the fall before dropping to the ground.

This tree grows well in a wide range of soils and also adapts well to wet or boggy soils, which is why it is also commonly known as the ‘swamp maple.’ This tree will grow well in a wide range of climates, through USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9 however, fall color will be brighter in cooler climates.

5. Sugar Maple

Scientific Name: Acer saccharum

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Mature Size: Up to 110 feet tall

Light: Full sun to full shade

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining, acidic, fertile

Varieties: Acer saccharum ‘Apollo’, Acer saccharum ‘Fall Fiesta’, Acer saccharum ‘September Flare’

This is a large deciduous tree that is native to eastern North America, from Nova Scotia in Canada down to Tennessee in the United States. It is popularly known as being the source of maple syrup, as well as the sugar maple lead being the national symbol of Canada. The tree has a dense, rounded canopy, with wide-spreading branches that make for excellent shade. Flowers arrive before the foliage in spring, in sprays of small yellow-green blooms. The leaves are dark green during summer, warming up to shades of orange, yellow, and red in fall.

This tree performs best in full sun to partially shaded positions, but it is also tolerant of full shade. It grows well in slightly acidic soils that are well-draining and kept moist.

6. Freeman Maple

Scientific Name: Acer x freemanii

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Mature Size: Up to 80 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average moisture conditions

Soil: Well-draining, acidic, organically rich

Varieties: Acer x freemanii ‘Armstrong’, Acer x freemanii ‘Sienna Glen’, Acer x freemanii ‘Firefall’, Acer x freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’

This tree is a naturally occurring hybrid that is a result of crossing Acer saccharinum (silver maple) and Acer rubrum (red maple). These hybrids are found in the wild in areas in North America where both parent species exist. It is a large deciduous tree with a fast-growing habit. It produces a broad, rounded canopy of dense foliage. The leaves are deeply lobed, in shades of dark green during summer and bright oranges and reds in the fall.

This is an easy-to-grow tree that fares well in a wide variety of soils and conditions. It is drought tolerant though performs best in moist soils. Best leaf color will be produced in a partially shaded exposure, but it can also be grown in full sun, though take care to avoid leaf scorch in hot climates.

7. Three Flowered Maple

Scientific Name: Acer triflorum

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-7

Mature Size: Up to 60 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

This is a small to medium deciduous tree that is native to China and Korea. It can reach heights of up to 60 feet, though more commonly tops out at around 40 feet. The trunk and branches of this tree are particularly notable, with yellow-brown bark that exfoliates in woody strips to reveal a pale copper-colored bark beneath. Flowers of this tree arrive in spring, formed in clusters of three, hence the common name of the tree. The foliage of the tree is trifoliate, with a dark green surface and pale green-gray undersides during summer. By fall, the leaves have developed to rich shades of red and orange.

This is a graceful tree with many appealing qualities that explains it being the recipient of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. This tree grows easily in well-draining soils that are consistently moist. It will not tolerate drought.

8. Laceleaf Japanese Maple

Scientific Name: Acer palmatum sp.

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Mature Size: Up to 15 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, acidic, organically rich

Varieties: Acer palmatum ‘Orangeola’, Acer palmatum ‘Red Dragon’, Acer palmatum ‘Ornatum’, Acer palmatum ‘Garnet’

These maples are native to Japan but are commonly cultivated across Europe and North America, most popularly as brightly colored shrubs. Unlike most maples, which have green foliage through spring and summer, and red or orange foliage in the fall, these maples can hold their red color from spring right through to fall. Their leaves can have seven or nine lobes, with each lobe having very fine serrations. The foliage of this plant has a delicate, sometimes cascading look, but in fact, the leaves of the Laceleaf Japanese Maple are tougher than most other types of maple. These leaves stand up well to heat, with much less chance of being scorched.

These types of maples grow well in well-draining soil that is kept moist. Full sun or partial shade is best.

9. Japanese Maple

Scientific Name: Acer palmatum sp.

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Mature Size: Up to 30 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

Varieties: Acer palmatum ‘Yasemin’, Acer palmatum ‘Emperor I’, Acer palmatum ‘Geisha Gone Wild’, Acer palmatum’ Orange Dream’

This is a popular deciduous small tree or large shrub that is native to China, Japan, Korea, and Russia. It is widely cultivated outside of its native region as a low-maintenance ornamental plant. It produces attractive foliage that can have five, seven, or nine-pointed lobes, in various shades of green through summer that develops into variations of yellow, orange, and red in the fall. The bark of the tree is also a point of interest, which becomes more ragged and rougher with each year that it ages. This plant thrives in moist soil that is well-draining. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade, though better foliage color will be achieved in partial shade.

10. Coral Bark Maple

Scientific Name: Acer palmatum sp.

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8

Mature Size: Up to 12 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

Varieties: Acer palmatum’ Eddisbury’, Acer palmatum ‘Beni-kawa’, Acer palmatum ‘Aka Kawa Hime’, Acer palmatum’ Winter Flame’

Coral bark maples are another variation of Japanese maples, with brightly colored branches as their distinguishing feature. These plants can be grown as small trees or medium to large-sized shrubs. It is a slow-growing tree with a rounded canopy. Flowers are red and arrive in spring they are small and attractive but not especially showy. The foliage is interesting, arriving in various shades of green, including lime green. By fall, the leaves warm up to shades of orange, red, and yellow before dropping to the ground. Once bare, the stunning coral colored branches of the tree can be appreciated in all their glory.

This is a visually impressive tree that maintains its interest throughout all four seasons. It grows well in full sun to partial shade and soil that is consistently moist. Foliage can become scorched as a result of dry soil or overexposure.

11. Shirasawa’s Maple

Scientific Name: Acer shirasawanum

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-7

Mature Size: Up to 50 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, acidic, organically rich

Varieties: Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’, Acer shirasawanum ‘Moonrise’, Acer shirasawanum ‘Jordan’, Acer shirasawanum ‘Kawaii’

This medium-sized deciduous tree is native to Japan and is named after the Japanese botanist Homi Shirasawa. The shoots of leaves that arrive in spring are bright scarlet red in color and then transform to contrasting shades of green. The plant has a vibrant two-tone color when new foliage is set against the green foliage. By fall, the leaves develop to shades of orange and red.

This is a popular plant for growing in containers or on patios, as it typically grows to around ten feet in height. It is low-maintenance, requiring little if any pruning. It grows easily in moist, well-draining soils and can thrive in both full sun or partial shade, though partial shade will produce better leaf color and reduce the risk of leaf scorch.

12. Big Leaf Maple

Scientific Name: Acer macrophyllum

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Mature Size: Up to 150 feet tall

Light: Full sun to full shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, rich

Varieties: Acer macrophyllum ‘Santiam Snows’, Acer macrophyllum ‘Mocha Rose’

This is a large deciduous tree native to the western portion of North America. It is also known as the ‘Oregon Maple.’ As you may expect from the common name, this tree produces the biggest leaves of any maple tree, with individual foliage spanning up to 12 inches across. They have five deep lobes and are green during summer before turning to golden yellow in the fall. This tree can reach heights of up to 150 feet, though more commonly, it does not exceed 60 feet. This tree thrives in moist, rich soils, and accordingly is found growing in the wild along the banks of streams and rivers where the soil is naturally rich with high water content.

This type of maple tree is the only type of maple that is commercially important in the western United States, commonly being harvested for use as lumber. It is popularly used as a wood veneer, as well as in furniture making. This tree can grow in full sun right through to full shade but performs best in partial shade.

13. Silver Maple

Scientific Name: Acer saccharinum

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Mature Size: Up to 100 feet tall

Light: Full sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining

This is a large, fast-growing deciduous tree that is native to North America. It can be found growing natively across southeastern Canada as well as central and eastern United States. This tree is one of the most commonly grown trees in the US. It also goes by the common names of ‘water maple,’ ‘creek maple,’ ‘soft maple,’ and ‘large maple.’ It should not be confused with the sugar maple, which has a very similar Latin name. The foliage of this tree is green on the surface, and silver with downy hairs underneath, explaining the name of ‘silver maple.’ These leaves can appear to sparkle in the sunlight, looking magical in the garden. The fall color of this tree’s foliage is less impressive than other maples, with leaves that turn to a pale yellow in October.

This tree has high water needs and can be found growing in wetlands and along waterways, hence the common name of ‘water maple.’ It should be grown in well-draining soil with consistent moisture. It also has higher light needs compared to other maples and grows best in full sun.


Coral Bark Tree Information - Caring For Coral Bark Japanese Maple Trees - garden

Japanese Maple Coral Bark Tree is an excellent Japanese Maple Tree specimen tree for spectacular year around interest.

The Coral Bark Maple's emerging leaves are light to medium green edged in red while in summer turning to a yellow gold then to light red tones in autumn. The young stems of the Acer palmatum Sango kaku display brilliant coral color in fall and winter.

The coral bark japanese maple tree will grow to a height of 20 to 25 feet with a 15 to 20 foot spread making its growth very symmetrical.

Grow your Coral Bark Maple tree in a container to brighten up areas such as a deck, patio or porch, Zen Garden or Japanese Garden settings.


Acer palmatum

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 spring or fall when the leaves warm up to dazzling shades of golden-yellow, red-purple and bronze, before shedding to the ground. As they fall, they expose the bright, coral red bark on young twigs and branches of some Japanese Maple cultivars, adding a much needed splash of color in the winter landscape.

Belonging to the 'Coral Bark group', these Japanese Maples are all outstanding four-season trees that are treasured by all gardeners as they grace the landscape. A must for those who appreciate winter bark interest!

Here is a list of Acers that will help you create beautiful winter scenes and let you enjoy the winter season in a beautiful new way.

Great Japanese Maples with Coral Bark

Acer palmatum 'Aka Kawa Hime' (Coral Bark Maple)

Similar but much smaller than the highly popular 'Sango kaku', Acer palmatum 'Aka Kawa Hime' is also a very desirable Japanese Maple. This deciduous shrub or small tree features a delicate foliage of 5 lobed leaves which emerge fresh yellow-green in spring, mature to mid green in summer and warm up to attractive shades of gold, yellow and red in fall before they shed to the ground. As they fall, they expose the bright, coral-red bark on young twigs and branches, adding a much needed splash of color in the winter landscape. Slow-growing, this maple tree features an upright vase-shaped habit and makes an outstanding four-season tree. It is a perfect choice for small gardens and containers. 'Aka Kawa Hime' means 'Small Red Bark'.


Watch the video: Coral Bark Japanese Maples