Best Red for Shade

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Kaitain4, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Dickson, TN
    I wanted to get the experience of the group - in your experience, which red-leaved JM cultivar holds its red color the best in shade?

    Thanks in advance for the feedback!
  2. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Western Washington, USA
    I'm so glad you asked. The subject of reds that hold their color has come up before, but most of the discussion has related to holding red in sun, but not too much regarding shade.

    Since I have a lot of shade and I love reds, I'm constantly asking the same question. As far as I can tell, no palmatum red will hold in true shade. But in combination light, Fireglow and Pixie have been good trees for me. I haven't had my large Fireglow in shade, but since the tree is large it shades itself on the side facing the garden. Last year the red held all year long. But it got lots of ambient light. And I stuck a Pixie in a pot in a pretty shady location and it turned burgandy/green. But when I gave it just a little more light (moved it 4 feet) the red started coming back and its second flush of growth was brilliant. I have another Pixie that gets only early morning filtered light plus ambient light and it held its red all year. Granted, it was a dark maroon red, but it wasn't green. I had a Beni otake in what I thought was a pretty shaded location and it held its red all year. But then I moved it to what I thought was an almost identical light situation and it greened up (still had some red, but not what I'd hoped). I think I've seen Red Pygmy discussed as a tree that might hold its red in shade. I watched one at the nursery from Spring to Fall that was next to a building and buried amongst other for sale items. I bought it because it held its red. But when I put it in lots of sun it greened. Go figure. My two Purple Ghosts both had red color all year, but the interior of the leaves were quite green. And, again, their red was a dark maroon/burgundy color.

    I look forward to seeing what others have to say.
  3. Houzi

    Houzi Active Member 10 Years

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    Kent England
    Hmm,I admit I'm no expert,just my observations from looking around my area but got a feeling you'll have to just pick the best 'Atro' you can find.Seems to me that most 'red' leafs,especially recently, have been selected for their ability to withstand cooking climates,though we must admit they are never really red.
    In my little corner of UK,it seems most garden centres/nurseries grow their trees in too much shade as they are a mass of green,even well known red leafs.I've never been tempted with 'Red Pigmy' simply because I've never seen a red leaf on one here.So I buy a plant knowing it should be red,stick it in sun and am happy with it.
    However the trees that always stand out here are labelled as 'Atros'.They seem to be the only ones that actually have red leaves but we seldom buy them as we know they'll go purple or possibly burn in full sun.I saw some lovely bright red(not purple) dissectums arrive at a nursery in height of summer but on returning a month or two later they were frazzled.I have bought a particularly bright 'Atro' and it is (annoyingly)the brightest plant I have,but I know in full sun it'll go purple like all the others.I admit I haven't tried it in full shade,just a couple of hours afternoon sun.
    I think you'll just have to experiment here,maybe pick the most delicate red cultivar you can find(unusually) and try it as I think all the 'heavyweights' will just green out.It's an interesting topic though,perhaps there's a niche in the market for such a plant.
  4. amazingmaples

    amazingmaples Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Red leaves in the shade is not an easy cobination to get. Most all red trees green out in the shade. Lighter color red trees like Oshio beni can work along with a true Bloodgood (not the home depot Blood Good). I have also had luck with Lozita in the shade but it has been a very dark purple. I know it is not considered a red tre but shin deshojo tends to be red color much of the leafed out season and it works.
    As for the "Atros", there is a an Atrolineare which is a red tree but as it gets more mature it gets bushy and will green out. Beni Otake is similar but I have found it to be more red and will hold the red color a little more in shade.
  5. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Western Washington, USA
    I almost mentioned Oshio beni. I have a young one that mostly holds its red depending on light exposure (poor thing has had three homes, now). It will turn Burgundy with some green in the middle of the leaf. There are pictures posted in the c/v thread. But I've also seen online pictures of Oshio beni that were a solid, dull green. I think this is another one of those cultivars that really varies from tree to tree. But if you get a good one, it is spectacular. I particularly love the dependable fire engine red of fall.
  6. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Dickson, TN
    I really appreciate the feedback so far.

    I would like to hear from some East Coast/Southern members. Our friends in the PNW have a radically different climate than we do, and the coloration of the trees is many times markedly different. 'Full Sun' in the PNW is about 1/2 a day's worth here! The heat we experience seems to change the equation somewhat...
  7. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    St. Louis
    Take this with a big grain of salt, as I have only had the tree for a year, but I too had a good season with beni otake last year. For fall reds, see Gomero's pic of Osakazuki in the photo gallery, which I believe has a fair amount of shade as well.
  8. seventrees

    seventrees Active Member

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    Louisiana, USA
    Opinion from the deep south; O'kagami in terracotta pot, full sun til 2:00 pm. Bright red color w/ no greening. Better than fireglow. Unfortunately, lost most 2010 pictures in untimely computer crash. Hoping this year's color matches last year. Will post picture.

  9. kaydye

    kaydye Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Live in Mapleton, Illinois, zone 5
    Beni Otake is pretty red all year in deep shade for me, too. A couple of new ones I got within the last couple years have been nice; dark red but held all year plus have a bonus of dark red branches: Enken and Aka Hosada. Aka Hosada is in really deep shade, Enken gets a little more sun, but both have been really impressive as far as color. For a container plant, dwarf (for me in Central Ill. ) I am completely astounded by the red of Carl's Corner. Wow, it glows. Again, has the nice red branches and buds.
  10. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Southwest France
    Most of my maples are in all kinds of shade: light, dappled, dense, full. The question asked in this thread has always interested me. Almost all reds I have (and I have a lot) do green out sooner or later (including Beni Otake), a lot or a little bit. Enkan greens out just a little bit.
    However I have two exceptions where the red stays solid throughout the season, with no trace of greening out anywhere in the tree (including inner leaves). One is 'Margaret Bee' which is in dappled shade. The other one is 'Sylvie', a dwarf selection (1.3 m after 12 years) which is in deep shade (see attached pic).


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  11. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    When I first saw this thread I felt a few parameters
    were needed to be defined to better equate how much
    and what kind of shade was the plant to be subjected
    to and some mention of what conditions the tree is to
    be grown in. We can also go a few steps further by
    asking how much red do we want to be retained, for
    how long and how old will the tree have to be for us
    to see the red be retained more frequently. Asking
    which red is best for shade is an ambiguous question.
    But there are a few cultivars that are known to stay
    pretty much red grown in dappled shade with indirect
    sunlight, in filtered shade with ambient light as well
    as almost full shade with less than an hour of South
    sun each day.

    I've seen Wou nishiki hold much of its red coloration
    in almost full shade, whereby the tree surrounding a
    pond setting only received less than an hour of ambient
    light each day and held up pretty well as an adult aged
    tree. Not so sure that a juvenile tree of Wou nishiki
    would have held its red coloration as long during a
    growing season as the older tree did.

    Two red pigmented Maples that have a history of
    retaining much of their red coloration in shade
    conditions and not go entirely green during the
    Summer are Beni komachi and Otome zakura.

    Oshio beni does not turn allover green in shade
    either but the Spring red does not hold well when
    this tree is grown in shade. We get a lot of bronze
    coloration before Summer when grown in dappled
    or filtered shade. Will green out by late Spring in
    full shade here however.

    An old perception was that most of the shojo
    group reds are probably best grown in shady
    conditions. Too much sun or too much intensity
    of direct warm to hot sun can cause them to
    have middle lobe burn.

    Shojo, the old Goddard/Iseli Red Filigree Lace,
    the old form Inaba shidare (most of you only
    see the atropurpureum form now), Shojo shidare
    and the Bush (Canby) form of Moonfire excel in
    filtered shade.

    I've seen Pixie grown in 80% shade (saran
    house with shade cloth) and can say that
    the young to juvenile trees do hold up well
    enough. Do not know how well an adult
    tree will do in 80% shade but I think if we
    can get one up to that age it should do
    fine also. A disclaimer of sorts is that
    in no way will I put a Pixie in partial to
    full sun here. Been there and done that
    and will not do it again as it just fries
    with our intensity of light, warm winds
    and our Summer heat. Does real well
    in Boring, Gresham and Aurora, Oregon
    in dappled shade.

    Two nigrum group reds that can handle
    shade conditions pretty well are Nuresagi.
    (sourcing for this Maple makes a big
    difference as some of the Nuresagi
    sold today are an atropurpureum form)
    and the Bush form of Fireglow. Aratama
    and Twombley's Red Sentinel also seem
    to do well in shady conditions in several

    I like the Sylvie, may have to get one
    for our dwarf collection sometime.

  12. GreenHavenGarden

    GreenHavenGarden New Member

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    Trumbull CT
    I have a Cindy in a good amount of shade that's still red and a Shirasawanum Red Dawn that's staying a dark red. I have a true Bloodgood planted in shade (and a Home Depot version in more sun) but that just went in the ground so the juries still out. I have Purple Ghost and Amagi Shigure both in shade. The Purple Ghost gets slightly more sun. They are both still holding their red but I don't expect that to last the rest of the summer. I moved my Twombly's to morning sun only and I like the color better now than when I had it in full sun last year. As a warning though...I have seen them green up at the nursery if they are shaded too much. I also have an Orion that I moved to a shady spot from morning sun only about a month ago and as of right now it's still red. I've heard Hubbs Red Willow will retain its color in shade so I'm going to try that one next.
    Great question. I have mostly shade in my yard and I LOVE red maples. I love all maples actually. I've googled this question so many times and I'm still unsure which I should buy next. Thanks for asking it!
    Ps, this is the first summer for most of my 57 maples so take my observations with a grain of salt.

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