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

Image by Mark Bolin

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 and spread of 15-20 feet, 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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