If you want to fill your garden with striking colours and textures, look no further than acers and Japanese maples. With a palette that includes striking blood red leaves, delicate pink variegation, and acid greens, this diverse group has something for every garden. We asked our favourite bloggers, Instagrammers and YouTubers which varieties they love to grow, as well as their practical tips for planting and caring for these striking trees. Here’s their advice.
Browse our full range of autumn colour trees for inspiration.
Acers make excellent container trees in small urban gardens
“Acer “Orange Dream” is looking better than it ever has before and loves being in a pot,” says Instagrammer Julie Quinn from @londoncottagegarden. This fabulous small tree is a real asset in her London garden. It doesn’t need a large pot to thrive either, she adds. Check out the eye-catching October foliage on the same tree just three years later.
Dark coloured acers look striking against light backgrounds
Experienced horticulturist Chris shares a fantastic photo of acer ‘Bloodgood’ over at his Instagram page @christophhowell. He says that this variety has one of the deepest colour leaves available: “an intense purple, appearing almost black when placed against a light background and the red midrib to the leaf sets it off beautifully.” Having left Brimingham Botanical Gardens, Chris has just started a new job at John Massey’s garden at Ashwood – follow him on Insta for lots of inspirational photos.
Acers make striking focal points when used as specimen trees
Garden-lover Sash York from @sashinthegarden says that acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ is her top choice. This fiery variety is not one to hide in a crowd and makes an incredible focal point in her meadow when its super strong, fiery autumn colour emerges. If you’re stuck for choice, Sash advises visiting an arboretum. Then you can see all the acers in their autumn glory, pick one that catches your eye, and order from a reputable seller. Follow her on Instagram for glorious photos of her very special garden.
Water your acers with collected rainwater
Scroll through Sue’s photos at @russelinthebushes to see the amazing spectrum of colours that her pot-grown acer rotates through! From electric green new leaves that light up the space in spring through to a gorgeous variegated leaf that finally turns to a deep burgundy in autumn, her images capture the whole cycle. She recommends watering container-grown acers with collected rainwater, and these bright leaf colours are evidence that she might be onto something!
Acers don’t require pruning
YouTuber Adam’s East Midlands garden is the perfect spot to grow Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’, which he loves for its fantastic golden foliage. Don’t bother pruning your acer because they just don’t need it, says Adam at his excellent YouTube channel Adam’s Gardening Guides. At most, all you need to do is remove any diseased or dead branches using sharp clean secateurs. He recommends regular watering to encourage rich, healthy leaf growth.
Enjoy delicate flowers on mature acer palmatum trees
Acer trees produce flowers too! Dawn from @dawns_gardening planted her Acer palmatum about 25 years ago and says that it has produced these delicate little red blooms for the last four years. A beautiful contrast to the fresh green spring foliage, she’s even seen some evidence of self-seeding. Dawn says that the attractive winged seed pods take flight in the wind and give you more plants. Visit her full post for more information.
Use ericaceous compost for container-grown acers
Over at @paul_at_keeperscottage, Paul uses ericaceous compost to keep his potted acer trees happy. They don’t like to be in pots that are too big, he says, “so whatever the size of the container you get them in, you only need to go for one pot size larger.” He recommends moving your trees into new pots every two to three years and adding a little bit of special acer feed to give them a welcome boost. See his collection of fantastic acers in their autumnal splendour over at his Instagram page.
Stimulate a small acer into growth by moving to a larger pot
Do you want your acer to grow quicker? Plant it into a bigger pot, says tropical plant enthusiast Chris Ridley AKA the Tropical Plant Guy. This stimulates faster growth as your acer tree spreads to fit the pot it finds itself in. In the same vein, if you want to slow down your acer’s growth, choose a pot with a more snug fit. Follow Chris’s step-by-step process to pot on your acer tree successfully.
Order acers from reputable suppliers to avoid disease
Horticulturist Simon has five rules for success with acers. Number one is to get your new trees from a reputable supplier. This way you don’t only get a great product, you avoid receiving any unwanted soil-borne diseases like pesky verticillium wilt that can ruin the foliage, he explains at his YouTube channel Walking Talking Gardeners. Watch his helpful video to learn his other four rules.
Terracotta pots perfectly complement the colours of acers
Over at the Thompson & Morgan blog, Karen Pratt transforms her neglected garden using an acer ‘Starfish’. Acting as the main focal point in a newly-designed area, her deeply lobed, unusual acer looks perfect in a Beth Chatto inspired terracotta pot. Shelter your acer from wind to avoid any trouble with scorching, she advises. See her journey from ‘concrete mess’ to colourful success in her fun blog post.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our roundup of the best acer information from the web. Why not share your own acer trees online and tag us using the #YourTMGarden so we can be equally inspired by you! Keep up with everything we do on X and by following us on Instagram.
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