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Doug McDougal's Top 5 Japanese Maples

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Acer shirasawanum 'Jordan'

A spectacular addition to any garden, Acer shirasawanum ‘Jordan’ is a stunning yellow cultivar that is sure to brighten up any space. Developed by Fratelli Gilardelli of Gilardelli Nursery in Italy, ‘Jordan’ boasts a richer color and greater vigor than many of its golden-hued predecessors. With its bright yellow shades, outlined by a red border during early spring, this cultivar is a sight to behold. Its autumn colors range from deep maroon to orange, providing a beautiful contrast to other plants in the garden. Although listed as an Acer shirasawanum, ‘Jordan’ may actually be an Acer shirasawanum x palmatum hybrid, as evidenced by its exceptional heat tolerance and vitality. Reaching a height of 10-12 feet in just 15 years, we recommend planting ‘Jordan’ in a location that receives shade during the late afternoon to ensure the best coloration. Whether used as a focal point or to contrast deeper shades of maroon and orange, this Japanese maple is sure to make a statement in any garden.


Acer oliverianum 'Hot Blonde'

The brothers discovered 'Hot Blonde' as a fortuitous hybrid between Acer oliverianum and a golden Japanese maple. This resulted in a stunning upright Japanese maple with a golden yellow hue and orange border in springtime. As the season progresses, the tree becomes more and more yellow. It is a robust and vigorous grower, reaching heights of up to 12-14 feet in just 10 years. 'Hot Blonde' displays an intense fiery red during the fall season, lasting from October to December, even in hot cold frames. This tree is an ideal centerpiece or accent for any landscape. It is one of the most heat-tolerant Japanese maples produced and is perfect for southern gardens, particularly those with southwest exposure. 'Hot Blonde' is part of our Heatseekers Series™ of Heat Tolerant Japanese maples for the South, thriving in Zones 6 through 9. Propagation is done by grafting onto Acer palmatum.


Acer palmatum 'Waterfall'

Waterfall is a magnificent weeping green laceleaf Japanese maple that displays a spectacular show in the fall. Its pendulous and cascading look gives it its name, and the slightly larger-than-average green dissectum leaves add to its charm. This tree is incredibly heat tolerant and can thrive in both sun and shade conditions. It can grow up to 5 ft in height by 6 ft in width in 10 years, making it perfect as a large potted patio tree or a specimen plant in any landscape. In spring, the tree displays a bright neon green color, while in fall, the colors range from yellow to gold. Although we initially believed 'Waterfall' and 'Viridis' to be different cultivars, after years of observation, we now consider them to be the same cultivar in the nursery trade today. This cultivar is ideal for Zones 5 through 9.


Acer japonicum 'Yama Kage'

The late Jim Schmidt's 'Yama Kage' is a full moon Japanese maple selection that boasts exceptional red fall color and large leaves. The name 'Yama Kage' translates to "Mountain Shadows," which is also the name of the subdivision where Schmidt used to live. This maple can grow up to 10-12 ft in height over 15 years, making it an excellent choice for adding a big impact to the landscape during fall. 'Yama Kage' thrives in Zones 5 through 9, making it a versatile and popular cultivar.


Acer japonicum 'Indian Summer'

The 'Indian Summer' cultivar of Japanese maple is a stunning variety that boasts large green leaves that can grow as wide as dinner plates. In the summer, new growth appears with a pink-red hue, which provides a beautiful contrast to the dark green foliage. When autumn arrives, the 'Indian Summer' maple turns into a breathtaking display of bright yellows, oranges, and reds. It can reach a height of 8-10 ft over a decade and a half. This cultivar is best suited to grow in Zones 5 through 9.

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