Japanese maple trees are prized all over the world. Many species have shocking red leaves that set them apart from all other varieties of maple trees. However, if you want a Japanese maple for your garden for the red color of the leaves, you may wonder if these trees retain their red leaves throughout the year.
Not all Japanese maple trees stay red all year long. Some species retain red leaves from spring to autumn, such as the Bloodgood maple, the Emperor maple, and the Fireglow maple. Japanese maples start with green leaves that turn red, and some never get red leaves.
Japanese maple trees require a warm climate to grow and do best in the USDA zone, which makes them ideal for planting in long-term gardens. These trees also add interesting color to an otherwise semi-monotone environment, but do they always have red leaves?
Let’s find out!
Do Japanese Maple Trees Have Red Leaves All Year?
Japanese maple trees are unique among maples for their red or close-to-red-colored leaves. These leaves make them stand out in any environment and look stunningly beautiful when they grow well.
These leaves are also the main reason so many people want to plant them in their gardens, but if the leaves do not remain red, the tree will blend with everything else.
Some species of Japanese maple trees do have red-colored leaves all year long. The red color of these leaves does change slightly, but they are always a red hue regardless of the season unless they have lost their leaves for the winter.
Some varieties of Japanese maple trees do not grow red leaves at all, while some begin the spring with green leaves and end the fall with red leaves.
The color of a Japanese maple tree’s leaves depends on the species.
Most Japanese maples have red leaves at some point during the year, but only a handful retain leaves of a red or reddish color until they lose their leaves.
If you want a Japanese maple with constant red leaves, you must take the time to find the tree species that will work best in your climate, and that will sustain red leaves rather than just hoping for a tree with consistently red leaves.
Which Japanese Maple Trees Retain Red Leaves All Year?
We have established that not all Japanese maples retain red leaves throughout the year, but some do.
The species of Japanese maple trees that have consistently red leaves throughout the year include the following:
- Bloodgood Maple
- Emperor Maple
- Purple Ghost
- Sherwood Flame Maple
- Inaba-Shidare Maple
- Red Dragon Maple
- Tamuke-Yama Maple
- Crimson Queen Maple
- Fireglow Maple
- Atropurpureum Maple
There are other species that bear this same characteristic, but the maples on this list are the most likely to grow well in most places, especially if they are cared for well.
The leaves of these trees do not remain the same color in every season of the year. Instead, they tend to start with either a light or deep red at the beginning of spring, and the leaves change to the opposite red spectrum by the end of fall.
Some of these trees have leaves that are more consistent in color than others, but they all show some color change throughout the year, even though the leaves are always a hue of red.
Other Leave Colors
The leaves can sometimes be more purple than red or can be closer to pink, but they will all turn red at some point, and they will never bear green leaves, even when they first shoot their leaves in spring.
Why Do Only Some Japanese Maples Retain Red Leaves?
The red color of Japanese maple tree leaves is a result of the genetics of the plants. The maples with red leaves are high in natural pigments known as anthocyanins.
These are the same pigments that make red cabbage purple and raspberries red. Japanese maple trees with red leaves also have a particular type of chlorophyll in the leaves that allow this pigment to show through.
The trees with leaves that change throughout the year have varying levels of these pigments as the trees change according to the seasons.
As the internal chemical balance within the tree changes based on the temperature, rainfall, humidity, soil moisture, and nutrients available to the plant, the leaves of the tree change color until they eventually fall off in the winter.
Which Red-Leaf Japanese Maple Is Best For Retaining Color?
Multiple varieties of Japanese maple trees retain red leaves throughout the year. But there is one Japanese maple considered the best for this while being the easiest to maintain and the hardiest overall.
The Japanese Bloodgood Maple tree is the best to buy if you want one that retains red leaves but is also very simple to maintain.
Japanese maple trees are notorious for being difficult to manage, especially in areas that get colder in the winter, and many of these trees do not make it through more than two seasons in certain areas.
However, the Bloodgood maple is very hardy and resistant to cold. It is easy to plant and maintain and has a reputation for growing relatively quickly.
For these reasons, the Bloodgood maple is generally considered the best to grow, especially for anyone inexperienced in cultivating Japanese maple trees.
Not all Japanese maple trees get red leaves, and not all of the maples that do get red leaves retain the red color from spring to fall. However, most homeowners prefer the species that retain their leaves year-round.
If you want a Japanese maple that stays red from spring to autumn, it is vital to research which red-leaf Japanese maples grow well in your area and choose from these trees regarding the color of their leaves.
If you choose the wrong tree, even if it has constant red leaves, it may not make it through one season.
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