Maples are a highly sought-after species for landscaping. They are so good with mood and are quite impressive in the fall when their leaves turn red, orange, yellow and even purple!
But while these trees are truly impressive, you can’t have them all in your garden. For starters, they grow in different areas and require different elements to reach their optimum height.
Unfortunately, we have to choose which species to keep and which to admire in magazines. This guide will show you what Japanese and red maples have in common and what to consider before adding them to your garden.
Japanese maples and red maples flower, prefer lower pH levels, and rarely require pruning. They differ in their light requirements, natural habitats, size, and soil requirements.
Hopefully your decision will be clearer and easier in the end. Let’s start dissecting the facts, shall we?
Japanese maple vs red maple: what are the similarities?
Let’s start with a simple one: both are maples. Did you see it coming? Of course you did, and it probably has a lot to do with why you are comparing these species.
Maples are trees belonging to the family sapindaceae and the genus Acer. And there are more than 100 types to choose from. How good is it?
All have wonderful displays in the fall when their leaves take on other hues. As its name suggests, the red maple takes on a red, orange or yellow hue in the fall.
And Japanese maple takes on similar colors and can even take on shades of purple! So no matter which maple you choose, you’ll always enjoy a color change in the fall.
What other similarities do these trees have?
1) She Flower
The red maple blooms in the spring and bears small red flowers. Interestingly, the red tint does not disappear after the flowers turn into fruits.
Instead, it appears on leaves in the fall. And when the leaves fall, the stems acquire a reddish tint, which makes it possible to enjoy the facade even longer.
When spring comes, you can enjoy the flowers again. It’s a year-long exposure that you can enjoy for free if you give the plant what it needs.
What about Japanese maple? This beauty also blooms in spring with small red or purple flowers. Over time, these turn into a fruit with one-inch dry wings.
You may also like: Where to Plant a Japanese Maple
2) They prefer lower pH levels.
Both maples like slightly acidic soils with a pH between 4.5 and 6.5. They can tolerate neutral soil conditions, but won’t do well in alkaline soil.
Alkaline conditions cause chlorosis, which prevents trees from photosynthesis and thus stunts their growth.
The trees prefer acidic conditions and can withstand levels as low as 3.7. But once you hit 7.3, the leaves on the tree start to fade as photosynthesis decreases.
3) rarely needs pruning
Most gardeners like to prune their trees to remove diseased parts, encourage new growth, and even shape them. With maple trees, pruning can take a back seat.
Take Japanese maple, for example. It is a slow growing plant with an average height of around 4.5 meters. Pruning is only necessary if you want to improve its appearance and harmonize it with the landscape.
For example, you can prune it to encourage the growth of other trunks so that it looks more like a bush than a tree. The same goes for red maple which is very sensitive to pruning.
Prune these trees only when necessary. Otherwise, let them grow as they would in the wild, reducing your exposure to pests and disease.
Oh, and they also have a minimum fertilizer needs. In most cases, they can feed on mulch, dead leaves, and other organic material without showing signs of nutritional deficiencies.
You may also be interested in: 6 reasons why your Acer tree is dying and how to fix it
Japanese maple vs. Red Maple – What are the differences?
Both are maples. What could be so different about them? The answer is a lot! Look at the factors to consider when buying one of these maples:
1) light requirements
The light requirements of these maples are similar but different. As? Both can tolerate partial shade, meaning exposure to morning sun for at least four hours a day.
It is different from partial sun, which can have both morning and afternoon sun.
However, red maple also grows well in full sun. So clear and direct light of the sun, without barriers.
Under this light, the tree produces enough food to support healthy growth and flowering. It does best in such light and tolerates partial shade.
And if placed in partial shade in cooler areas, growth will be stunted and the tree will be more susceptible to root rot.
But Japanese maple is very different. Rather than tolerating partial shade, it thrives there. Also, it works well in speckling/filtering. light What bright, indirect light.
Photons from such exposure are sufficient to support photosynthesis. When placed in full sun, the Japanese maple suffers from sunburn, which damages the leaves and makes it difficult to grow.
Therefore, when growing trees, you need to consider how much light you can provide them.
You may also be interested in: Why Is My Japanese Maple Turning Brown and How Do I Fix It?
2) Their natural habitats
A plant’s habitat plays a vital role in its adaptation to its climate. So where do these maples come from and where can they be grown?
- Japanese maples come from Japan, Korea, China and parts of Russia and Mongolia. These trees can grow in hardiness zones 5 through 9. However, zone 5 is only ideal for the red varieties. When growing Japanese green leaf maples, aim for warmer, drier regions, as these are more similar to their habitats. Additionally, these trees do not fare well when exposed to strong winds. Plant them in the shade or install barriers to prevent damage from drafts.
- Red maples are native to the Eastern American hardwood forest. They do well in USDA zones 3 through 9. These trees are more adaptable than Japanese maples, hence their varied USDA zones. You can grow them in hot, dry climates, and they would do just as well in cooler regions.
Therefore, red maples are better suited to cooler climates and can withstand winters where frosts are not too severe.
They can also grow in warmer regions where Japanese maple would otherwise struggle to establish. If you live in an area with extreme conditions, choosing red maple is the best option.
3) their sizes
Are these trees the same size? Not even close. Red maple is the most avid grower, reaching 70 feet (21 meters) tall with a diameter of up to 50 feet (15 meters).
Wow! This makes it excellent as a shade tree under which you can grow vegetables, have picnics, or even contrast your landscaping.
It has a relatively low crown and if you plant it outdoors you should only place it in a location where height is not an issue.
Otherwise, the growth of the tree may get out of control. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t grow it indoors. You can successfully grow her in a pot if you continue to prune her to reduce the height to 60cm so that you can control root growth.
The Japanese maple is the much smaller variety with a mature height of 25 feet (7.5 meters) and a spread of nearly 8 feet.
Its small size makes it a perfect addition to any garden where space is an issue. Plus, it’s a slow-growing species that won’t take over your garden all at once. On average, most species do not even grow beyond 4.5 meters.
Plus, you can always prune it to control how far it goes. It also grows fairly well indoors if you can supplement natural light with effective artificial light.
Those with a small garden can consider Japanese maple, while those who want an eye-catching tree can always opt for red maple.
You may also be interested in: 6 Benefits of Having a Japanese Maple
4) Your floor needs
Japanese maples prefer moist, well-drained soil and do not do well in soggy soil. If they are in waterlogged soil, they are more prone to root rot and may die.
The best option is to use loamy soil, as it has a medium texture and moderate water-holding capacity. Does this mean that the plant can go a long time without water?
Not quite: Your Japanese maple prefers regular watering to keep the soil moist so it can absorb enough for photosynthesis.
It should not be left in dry ground for long, so top up rainwater with additional water if necessary.
Is this the case for red maple? East Actually quite different. This tree can tolerate the opposite floor textures and can even grow in sandy and clay soils.
As such, it can do well in both wet and dry soils. But it draws the line in saline soils and waterlogged soils. Be sure to water the soil enough to prevent it from drying out completely.
If you prefer to plant a tree without changing the soil, red maple is a good choice. Anyone growing Japanese maple should amend the soil to provide similar drainage and retention to keep excess water at bay.
Who thought that trees of the same family could be worlds apart? But they are. Although these trees are maples, their differences outweigh their similarities.
Therefore, it would be difficult to plant both types in your garden. It’s best to choose the tree that best suits your landscaping and go with it.
Before you go, here are some other related articles that I encourage you to read below to solve more of your gardening problems:
What are common red maple problems?
Why is your red maple turning green?
Why is your red maple turning brown?
What are common problems with Bloodgood Japanese Maple?
Why is your Japanese maple turning green?