Birmingham’s Best Fall Color Now

A green-leaved seedling selected for its yellow fall color

Japanese maple selection Emperor 1

Weeping form selection Viridis

Yellow fall color on weeping form named Toyama Nishiki

Japanese maples are showing off all over our area now. The fall color on these maples is simply stunning, and they are now at their peak. It is also, in my opinion, the best time to purchase them and plant them, as you can see their fall color and their growth habit. Also, many of our local garden centers have specials on plants because they do not want to carry them over the winter. You can purchase them for almost any price and size; from a small green-leaf seedling to an elegant named one whose foliage or structure is unique. Take it from me they come in all shapes and sizes. One of the most important things about selecting a Japanese maple is where you want to put it. Many of the highly variegated selections need shade (not dense), while many of the red and green selections can take full sun. I have seen the weeping red ones in full sun where the green weeping ones like high filtered shade. Other than shade they like the same culture as any maple. The better the soil the better they grow, and since they are fibrous rooted they need watering in dry periods. If you are planning to grow one in a pot, make sure it is a pot that can support the size of tree you are buying and has good drainage holes. The mature sizes are unlimited, too. I suggest if you are tree shopping and are not looking for a specific one you have seen or read about, take you phone and google the selection and read about it before you buy.

Birmingham Botanical Garden’s Japanese Gardens Entrance

There is no place in Birmingham that has more selections of Japanese maple than the Japanese Garden at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. A volunteer in this garden has recorded over sixty selections. All of these are labelled with a metal tag or a white plastic tag. Please do not remove these tags, but do use them for identification purposes. Also in the Japanese Garden are trees that were planted some 40 plus years ago, to some that were planted this year. So visit the garden and you can see all types, shapes, sizes, and fall color variations of Japanese maples. Their trees won’t disappoint you.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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