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You won't have to wait until autumn to enjoy red leaves on this tree. Emperor Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Wolff' EMPEROR 1®) makes your landscape sizzle all season long. Beginning in spring, the emerging leaves are colored with regal shades of purplish-red, and they retain this color throughout summer. In autumn, Emperor Japanese Maple's foliage finishes the growing season with a spectacular color change to scarlet-red! A Graceful Display with even Better Features You'll want Emperor Japanese Maple for its spectacular foliage, but you'll be pleasantly surprised at the other features this red-blushing beauty brings to the table: • Grows into a compact size. If you have a small landscape, you may not have room to grow a large tree. It will either overwhelm your other plantings, or it will throw your landscape design way out of proportion. Emperor Japanese Maple takes a shapely upright form, but it typically grows no taller than 15 feet, with heights of 10 to 12 feet more commonly seen. • Endures late-spring frosts. When deciduous trees produce leaf buds early in spring, the buds can be killed by late-spring frosts. Then you have to wait longer for the tree to produce its leaves, which can make your yard look sparse in the meantime. Emperor Japanese Maple buds later in spring than other trees, so it is spared the damage caused by late-season cold snaps. • Tolerates shade. Although you don't want to plant Emperor Japanese Maple in full shade, you'll find that its leaves retain their red hues even in partial shade or in areas where the tree receives dappled sunshine. East Meets West Japanese maple trees are also native to areas in Southeast Asia other than Japan. These oriental beauties have found hospitable homes in many western climates and soils, too. Emperor Japanese Maple is a perennial in USDA plant hardiness Zones 5 through 8, which means it's a durable tree in cold northern climates as well as hot southern regions. As a quintessential tree for any Asian-themed garden, Emperor Japanese Maple provides a focal point that ties your landscape design with a stunning red bow. You can also grow this versatile plant in a large pot as a patio tree! A Super Container Plant If you've never thought about growing a tree in a large pot, Emperor Japanese Maple is an excellent choice! Growing in a container solves the problem of having to dig a hole in what may be less-than-desirable soil. And if you grow your tree in a pretty pot, you can enjoy it on your patio as a single potted specimen or as a focal point that's grouped with other container plants. Although its mature in-ground height typically is 10 feet, Emperor Japanese Maple's size will be smaller in a large pot, so you'll find it's more easily manageable. • Will it live in a pot year-round? Without the surrounding landscape soil to help insulate its roots, Emperor Japanese Maple could suffer cold injury. A rule of thumb is that you can successfully grow it in a pot if it's hardy in two zones colder than where you live. For example, because it's hardy to Zone 5, gardeners in Zone 7 and warmer can grow it in a container that stays outside year-round. And if you live in Zone 6, you can place your potted tree in a spot that is protected from winter winds and wrap the pot with frost blankets or heavy insulating material to protect its roots. If you live in a zone colder than 6, you can move the pot to an unheated garage during winter to protect your plant. • What kind of container should I use? Terracotta clay and porcelain pots are susceptible to breaking as they repeatedly freeze and thaw outside. Better choices include plastic, metal, or wooden containers. Whatever pot you choose, just make sure it has a hole at the bottom so water can drain freely. • Does it need special care in its container? You'll only need to keep it watered and fertilized '– you won't have to weed around it as you'd have to do if it were planted in the ground! And you won't even have to prune it '– Emperor Japanese Maple naturally grows into what horticulturists call a "vase shape." Soil in containers dries out more quickly than in-ground soil (even in the winter), so you'll want to check on your potted tree periodically and add water when the top few inches of the soil feels dry. Emperor Japanese Maple likes soil that is a bit on the moist side to perform its best. 3 Irresistible Landscape Design Suggestions You'll want to find a prominent place to feature your Emperor Japanese Maple instead of planting it where it's out of sight. This is definitely a showy tree that is worthy of its regal name. With the simple addition of an Emperor Japanese Maple to your landscape, you can transform your yard into a curb-appeal sensation! 1. Design an island bed by removing the grass inside the bed and mulching the entire island with finely shredded pine bark '– to a depth of 3 inches. Using Emperor Japanese Maple as the anchor plant, you can place it in the center of the island, or achieve a lovely effect by placing it just off-center. Place containers of varying shapes and sizes over the mulch, and choose plants for the containers that have flowers or foliage that complement Emperor Japanese Maple's red leaves. For flowering plants, choose impatiens or begonias, which will bloom all season long. Stellar foliage plant choices include hostas, with variegated or golden leaves, or brilliantly colored caladiums. 2. Plant an Emperor Japanese Maple offset at each front corner of your home to provide a bold, red touch that welcomes your visitors. When the leaves drop in autumn, hang small bird feeders in the branches. You'll enjoy winter bird-watching simply by looking out your front windows from your favorite chair. 3. Enhance any simple water feature by planting an Emperor Japanese Maple nearby. You can create an even more-compelling design by placing an arched bridge over a small stream, including a stone feature, such as a boulder or statue, and finishing your Oriental garden design with an Emperor Japanese Maple '– gorgeous! Emperor Japanese Maple Tree Care Here's a simple checklist to help you choose a site for optimal health and growth of your Emperor Japanese Maple: • Sun. A sunny site encourages strong growth, but this tree also handles partial-shade locations like a champ. In fact, if you live in a hot climate, your Emperor Japanese Maple will actually look its best if you plant it in an spot that receives some afternoon shade. • Soil. Slightly acidic soil that is high in organic matter is best. If your soil is highly alkaline, Emperor Japanese Maple's leaves may react by turning yellow. • Drainage. A strong consideration of any potential planting site for Emperor Japanese Maple is that the soil must drain well. • Water. Moist soil is good; soggy soil isn't. • Mulch. By applying 3 to 4 inches of mulch around your Emperor Japanese Maple, you'll be helping to keep the soil moist. And as an added bonus, the mulch will help keep weeds at bay. Be sure to pull the mulch away from the trunk to keep your tree healthy. • Fertilizer. Apply a slow-release fertilizer once in spring when the leaves open, which will nourish your tree all season long. It's best to fertilize Emperor Japanese Maple on the recommendations of a soil test.