Cold hardiness of Japanese maples

Discussion in 'Maples' started by kaspian, May 5, 2008.

  1. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Maine coast, USA, zone 5
    I've been searching the forum for hard information on this subject -- ideally from gardeners speaking from their own hands-on experience in colder climate zones -- and find that the data pool is limited, to say the least. One finds assertions to the effect that "XXX is not hardy beyond zone 6," but these seem to come mostly from books or from gardeners in warmer climates. (And I mean no disrespect to these kind gardeners who are trying to be as helpful as they can.)

    I wonder, though, given the hundreds of cultivars out there, how many have actually been tested in zone 5 (or colder) conditions? Of those that have been tested (mostly ubiquitous types like 'Bloodgood'), many do turn out to be hardy. Which gives us reason to hope that many others will turn out likewise.

    This thread, for instance, contains fascinating information from Maple Society member Daniel Otis, who gardens in Ithaca, New York:

    This is the kind of thing we need more of. (Not just the post, but the gardeners intrepid or insane enough to plunk things in the chilly northern soil, work their personal magic on them, and see what happens.) Accordingly, I'll be reporting next year on my experience attempting to grow the following outdoors in zone 5b, coastal Maine -- listed roughly in declining order of reliable information I could find to suggest that the plant should succeed here:

    - Acer triflorum
    - A. shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon'
    - A. s. 'Moonrise'
    - A. p. 'Katsura'
    - A. x 'Johin' (a palmatum/shirasawanum hybrid)
    - A. japonica 'Aconitifolium'
    - A. palmatum 'Yezo nishiki'
    - A. p. 'Purple Ghost'
    - A. p. 'Ariadne' (a variety originating in Belgium, I think)

    I'm hoping other cold-climate gardeners will report their own successes (and failures, though fewer of these, we trust) as time goes by.

    As a general thought, I'd add that from my experience in growing other kinds of plants (including bamboos) in Maine for 20 years, I've found two things:

    - Hardiness ratings in reference books and online sources tend to be reliable most of the time, but not always -- and they are often contradictory.

    - Other factors beyond temperature alone -- for instance drainage, exposure to winter wind and sun, what kind of summer the plant just experienced, and of course the skill of the gardener -- strongly affect survival in challenging environments.
     
  2. kaydye

    kaydye Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Location:
    Live in Mapleton, Illinois, zone 5
    Happily, I am insane and intrepid. Living in zone 5 is a challenge with acer palmatum. There have been some postings from a number of people and the cultivars they have grown for a number of years in zone 5. Like you, I copied down those cultivars and the ones I hadn't tried already, I put on my wish list.
    http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=15437

    This is the thread in which we discussed some of this. There are others. As I am looking at some of mine this year I have some more that made it through the winter, no problem (as small maples) and some that didn't. I'll list them. Maybe others will talk about those that survived and those that didn't. Surprisingly for me, some that were rated zone 5 did not survive. We had a pretty good winter, too.
    THese are some I am disappointed in:
    Acer Silver Cardinal
    Acer griseum X pseudoplantanus
    Acer palmatum 'Pixie'

    Some that I am impressed by:
    Acer palmatum 'Beni Tsukasa' This one I planted out as a little one-year graft and it is three years in the ground this year without any dieback. I think it's a keeper.
    Acer palm. 'Katsura' looks really good, first year in the ground
    A. circ. 'Pacific Fire' dieback, but also got nibbled on by deer, so it looks pretty good considering.
    Acer Johin Looks great
    Acer palmatum 'Suminigashi' have two, one large, one tiny, both have no dieback and look good.
    Acer palmatum 'Burgundy Lace' have two, one large, one tiny, both have no dieback and look good.

    I agree with you that we need to discuss which ones survive in our area. Hopefully, everyone will continue to report successes and failures.
    Kay Dye
     
  3. George57

    George57 Member

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    Location:
    Westminster, Vermont U
    Hi

    I appreciated the posts on cold hardiness.

    I have just been given an Acer palmatum Waterfall purchased in Connecticutt. However, I live in southern Vermont--Probably on the border of Zone 4-5. Has anyone had experience with this in Zone 4?

    George
     
  4. eq72521

    eq72521 Active Member

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    Location:
    Kennebunk, ME Z5B
    I have around 70 JM's.

    Here is the deal with me. I keep most in containers (probably 15 in the ground), and put them in a coldframe, or a floorless shed I built during the winter.

    I think the winter sun is what messes them up a lot. I have two Tamukeyama's that are 5 feet tall, but get lots of bark scorch. Others in a lot of sun in the winter (only shades in winters are pines or coldframes) get ratty bark and more dieback.

    I figure that if I have to cover them up to make them survive that's okay. And once they are too large to cover, I will put them into a protected area. I beleive most of the plants I have lost (1 in 07, 3 in 08) are from other root causes then being cold. I think some got too wet from the snow I let get into the sheds.

    I get some twigs that are blotchy that may be more from winter stress, but seem to be doing good. I should probably prune them out.
    I dont have any real answers, as I am somewhat new to this, but beleive that most of these, even the dwarfs, are hardy enough to live.
     
  5. Dendo

    Dendo Member

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    Location:
    Bethlehem , Connecticut USA
    Hi Kaspian,
    I see that you have Acer Palmatum Mary Catherine . I just got a plant a few days ago . I was told it will be a flat top plant . Can you tell me how yours grows ?
    Also did you know it was a broom on A P . Shaina ? We have spring burn back on Shiana but Mary Catherine does not burn back . I am located in the north west hills of Connecticut cold zone 5

    Dendo
     
  6. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Maine coast, USA, zone 5
    Dendo, actually that was Daniel Otis (whom I quote in my post) who grows Mary Catherine in upstate New York. I haven't seen any new posts from Daniel since I've been around here.
     
  7. kaydye

    kaydye Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Location:
    Live in Mapleton, Illinois, zone 5
    This is a really good posting that should be kept at the forefront. If it was, I think you would find many people adding the input that would be valid research for those attempting to stretch the zone of certain maples. If nothing else, it could start a list of Japanese maples that are surviving/growing/hopefully thriving in climates colder than zone 6.

    Something I am noticing on many of mine that have been in the ground for a few years (and I wonder if it's a result of the winter freeze/thaw we get in zone 5) is splitting bark in the trunk of the tree. It is low at the base of the tree and doesn't seem to immediately affect the health of the maple. Will it over time? I don't know. It worries me. I'll see if I can take some pictures and post them. Has anyone else noticed this on their Japanese maples grown in ground?
    Kay Dye
     
  8. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Location:
    Dickson, TN
    Kay Dye,

    You can get paper trunk protectors that help keep the sun from splitting the bark. It's like an ace bandage for trees!
     
  9. kaydye

    kaydye Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Location:
    Live in Mapleton, Illinois, zone 5
    Kaitain4,
    If you or anyone wants to look at the pictures, here's the link. I'd like to know if anyone else has this problem and if the trunk shields would help. It hasn't happened on most of my maples and I think the third picture I have is of a Crimson Queen, a closeup of the damage and the tree's health in general. I can't figure out what the damage is on it and why it looks healthy, foliage-wise. I did try to wrap burlap around it in the winter, but it didn't seem to make any difference.

    Anyway, I'd like to know if this is caused by winter and freeze/thaw cycles or as Kaitain4 said, sun scald in the winter, or something else. It's funny, most of the trunks that are more exposed to winter sun show no signs of scald. Again, this is why a good report on which Japanese maples are thriving is so important to all of us trying to grow them in colder climates.
    Kay

    http://picasaweb.google.com/summershollowpics/StarredPhotos

    (you'll have to cut and paste the address, I guess;))
     
  10. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Location:
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    Yikes!! That's some serious damage there!

    Pic #1 looks like freeze/thaw damage. Pic #2 looks like deer damage. Bucks will scrape their antlers on tree trunks and skin them up pretty good. The dissectum is - well, I don't know what to say! I don't see how it even stays in one piece! The others its a little more difficult. Could be freeze/thaw, or could be critter damage. We need more opinions!
     
  11. tjcher

    tjcher Active Member

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    Location:
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    Greetings! I am in zone 5 in Fort Collins, Colorado.

    I now have 7 Japanese Maples, 3 in pots, and 4 in the ground. These are the cultivars I'm growing:
    --Bloodgood
    --Emperor 1
    --Seiryu
    --Butterfly
    --Orangeola
    --Inaba Shidare
    --Sango Kaku

    I'm happy to report that my bloodgood is putting on all kinds of new growth and seems to be adjusting after an early summer windy week that turned its leaves brown. Also, I'm growing my Orangeola, Butterfly and Seiryu in full sun and they are also all putting on new growth. My potted Sango Kaku is the most vigorous growing for me. All of my trees have lasted at least one winter, and I have never lost a tree (yet).

    I will, however, admit to doing whatever it takes to protect these trees. For example, I put 4 stakes in the ground around the planted trees, wrap chicken wire fencing around the stakes, and burlap around that. I also wrap the trunks to help with freeze / thaw. I have planted a row of Junipers to protect them, but these are not quite tall enough yet. I also wrote in another one of these forums that I line my pots with bubble wrap, then potting soil, and then plant the tree to help with winter cold. My wife also thinks I'm crazy -- the way I move the pots around all day long getting the trees in idea conditions.

    I am interested to hear from other people in cold / windy / zone 5 what they do for the winter, which cultivars work in what locations, etc...

    I have generally found people at nurseries to be skeptical, and most of the information available to be quite conflicting in terms of conditions, etc... and I realize that the environments vary so much that this is naturally the case. However, I think those of us willing to experiment in these cooler zones, might learn a lot from each others experiences. In short, with some babying, I am having success here in Colorado.

    I will put up a link to some photos shortly.
    Tom
     
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  12. kaydye

    kaydye Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Location:
    Live in Mapleton, Illinois, zone 5
    Kaitain4,
    The first one is Inabe Shidare and I think you're right about the freeze/thaw. The second is EverRed (sp?) and I don't think it's deer damage because the branching completely covers the trunk, I just held it back to take the picture. This one had what I think was v. wilt and I lost the top 2/3 of it last year. Frankly, it looks really good and I can't understand why. It will have a cascading form due to the fact I cut off the top of it. It hasn't shown any signs of dieback this year, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
    The dissectum (Crimson Queen) is the one that perplexes me the most. I cannot figure out why the bark keeps chipping away. It looks like something is nibbling on it, but the location at the top of tree, unless it is a savage bird, seems inaccessible. I have never seen a bird on it pecking at it or anything. I don't know why it's still looking as good as it does, other than the bark. At first I thought it was "tight bark" (there were quite a few threads on this awhile back) and the result of the dying tissue was the cracking bark. It is in a location that gets sun the hottest part of the day and the structure of the branches does not shade this area at all, summer or winter. I'm thinking it has something to do with that. There is a small branch or two that I'm hoping to train over this area as they get bigger for some shade.

    Tom, I think your choices of Bloodgood, Emperor I, Butterfly, and Inabe Shidare will prove to be good candidates for being in the ground. My daughter lives in Aurora, what is your soil/moisture situation because I know in her area that's a problem. I guess I would worry more about that in your neck of the woods for maples planted in the ground. I don't know how you'll do with Seriyu and Sango Kaku in the ground. I think I'd keep them in pots and bring them into an unheated garage in the winter. Although, some have had success with Seriyu in zone 5.

    I baby mine, too. When winter comes, my yard looks like the land of the living dead because I spray with WiltPruf and wrap things in that white floating row cover so it looks like ghostly figures all over the lawn. Maple expert Frank Byles has said that in colder zones it's not so much about the temp. as it is the drying winds and soil. Sometimes our winters are dry and cold. That's when I worry, so I figure by wrapping them in something (I use burlap, too) at least the wind won't kill them.
    Kay
     
  13. Kate Yazowski

    Kate Yazowski New Member

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    Location:
    Fredonia N.Y.
    Hi.
    New to this forum and new to Japanese maples. I've added a 4 foot tall Tamukeyama maple to my garden. It is a container tree living in a large wooden tub and has done great this summer.
    My question is about wintering.. I live in western New York(zone 5b). The tub is on the southern side of the home but temperatures can reach-25 and we do get heavy snowfall and wind. Should this maple winter inside my Florida room? Or under a protected, covered outdoor patio. The Florida Room is cold..but not necessarily freezing and of course has windows.. All thoughts avid suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
     
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  14. maplesmagpie

    maplesmagpie Active Member

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    Location:
    Zone 5b, along Lake Michigan in WI
    I'm in zone 5b and have had no problem or damage to my Tamukeyama. Mine is in the ground, however. If I had it in a planter, I'd plan to bring it into my unheated/detached garage over the winter (similar, it sounds, to your protected/covered patio?). It's just a rule of thumb, but for plants in planters, I've read they need to be rated to two zones below their in-ground zone. In my case...zone three plants survive outdoors in planters in zone 5.

    Tamukeyama is said to be one of the most, if not the most, cold hardy laceleaf Acer palmatum cultivars. I would plant it in the ground, if you like the idea, and see how it does. In 5b it should be fine. I've also found that Orangeola, Lemon Lime Lace, and Red Dragon do well here....even in our coldest winters (the polar vortex winters of '13-14 and '14-15). I have a neighbor with a large, old Waterfall. It's on the east side of the house (winds are from the west), but its done very well in our winters. I see Tamukeyama and Crimson Queen, not to mention Viridis, doing well in many yards in my neighborhood.

    For snowfall protection (we sometimes get deep, wet snowfall), I just make sure to go outdoors during and after the storm to gently shake off my JM branches.
     

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