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How to Grow Acer palmatum Atropurpureum Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Purple Japanese Maple

Acer palmatum atropurpureum, or Japanese Maple, is a small deciduous tree of the Aceraceae family.

It has vibrant reddish-purple palmate leaves that turn a striking crimson red in the autumn / fall.

Acer palmatum Atropurpureum

Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum' with Pittosporum 'Silver Queen' in the background photograph by Leonora (Ellie) Enking, CC.


This tree is able to hold onto its red and purple hues quite well throughout the summer.

These brilliant colours are the main reason that many people decide to grow this tree, even though it can be picky about its location in the garden.

It makes a lovely accent piece in a small area, or as a contrast against other tree foliage.

Another ideal location to place this tree is under a canopy of taller trees, as it prefers afternoon shade and filtered light. Or perhaps plant it near Hydrangeas or azaleas because it also prefers slightly acidic soil conditions.

For successful growth, Japanese Maple needs just the right amount of light; too little light in some varieties causes leaves to turn greenish, whereas too much light can damage the leaves through scorching.

Acer palmatum Atropurpureum

Purple Japanese Maple 'Bloodgood' by Dun.can, CC.

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Japanese Maple

Tips for a happy Acer palmatum atropurpureum (Japanese Maple).

USDA Zone: 5 — 8

Moderate growth: reaches about 8 to 30 feet (2.5 to 9 m) in height and width.

Requires slightly acidic soil that is well-drained.

Partial to full sun - it prefers full morning sun and shade or filtered sun in the afternoon.

Purple Japanese Maple Bonsai
Purple Japanese Maple Bonsai tree photograph by Ryan Somma; CC.

Avoid harsh weather, such as drying winds and afternoon sun (especially in hot areas and summer).

Use mulch to keep the soil moist and the roots cool.

Establish a deep extensive root system by watering deeply and regularly during its first few seasons.

Prune during the winter, and apply a slow-release fertilizer early in the spring.

Acer palmatum Atropurpureum Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific Name: Acer palmatum Atropurpureum.
  • Common Name: Purple japanese maple.
  • Growing Zone: USDA: 5 to 8, Europe H6 (Hardy ouside of the severest climates).
  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Deciduous Tree.

Plant Details

  • Plant Height: Usually about 6 to 8 feet tall (2 to 2.5 m) tall, but can reach about 20 to 25 feet (7 to 8 m).
  • Plant Spread : Usually has a similar spread to its height, can reach 25 feet (8 m).
  • Time of Bloom: Spring.
  • Flower Details: Purplish-red. Inconspicuous.
  • Leaf Foliage: Purple, Burgendy. Seven lobes. Turns crimson red in the Fall.
  • Fruit: Purple. Winged.
  • Growth Form: Bushy Habit.

Ideal Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: Partial Shade to full sunlight.
  • Rate of Growth: Grows slowly. Can take up to 50 years to reach full height.
  • Suitable Soil Types: Acidic through to neutral. Soil type not overly important: Clay, Loamy, Sandy, chalk.
  • Soil Moisture: Moist. Well drained Dry soils can lead to leaf scorch.

Caring Conditions

  • Care: Water moderately (rain-water) during prolonged dry spells, and when establishing young trees.
  • Level of Maintenance: Low.
  • Propagation: Grafting or soft-wood cuttings. Saplings can be planted at any time of year into a 1:1 soil:compost mix. Seeds may not stay true.
  • How to Prune: Requires little to no pruning. In some cases hard pruning can be disruptive. As this plant bleeds only prune during dormancy (Winter) - only lightly prune decayed, diseased, and crossed branches.
  • Pests: Aphids and horse chestnut scale are sometimes a problem
  • Diseases: Usually disease free but Verticillium wilt and Stem canker may be an issue.

Further Information

  • Can Attract: Small mammals feed off the bark.
  • Tolerant of: Fairly tolerant of bark feeding Rabbits.
  • Best Garden Use: Year round colour. Specimen, Woodland garden. Cottage Gardens. Can be grown on a container, and well look nice when grown close to a water feature such as a pond or river.
  • Further Reading and References: Here and Here
  • Family: Sapindaceae.

Purple Japanese Maple Sapling
Young Purple Japanese Maple tree sapling photograph by Mark Bolin; CC.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Acer palmatum atropurpureum . You may also enjoy the following growing guides: Acer negundo and Acer griseum.



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