Dwarf Japanese Maple Trees

Dwarf Japanese Maple
Dwarf Japanese Maple

If you are looking for a small feature tree then the Dwarf Japanese Maples could be the answer.

You will find a range of varieties for sale, including both green ad red foliage colors. These maples are slow growing, some will reach a maximum height of around 3 ft, others up to 6ft. It all depends on the grafting, and the cultivar, along with climate and soil.

The best varieties are those with the smaller leaves, usually very finely dissected. The other feature of the best specimens is the dense branching habit, this is due to the short internodes, or the small distance between the nodes.

Nearly all are hardy from USDA zones 4 – 6 some are better in zones 6 – 8

Dwarf Japanese Maples varieties for the garden

  • Acer palmatum ‘Masu murasaki’ is an upright dwarf Japanese Maple that will reach 9ft or 3m. Green foliage turning red in Fall or Autumn. Sometimes used in bonsai. Acer palmatum Masu murasaki is a compact slow growing form with short branches and layered foliage. Try growing this one in a container.
  • Acer palmatum ‘Aratama’ A slow growing compact Dwarf Japanese Maple with deep red foliage. Will reach 9ft or 3m.
  • Acer palmatum ‘Hoshi kudzu’. Small light green leaves with some variegation. Will reach 2m
  • Acer palmatum ‘fjellheim’ Nice red stems and a dense ‘twiggy or bushy’ growth. Will reach 3 -5′ or 1.5m.
  • Acer palmatum ‘Shaina’ An interesting round shape and a dense growth habit. Foliage red changing to dark crimson purple.
  • Acer palmatum ‘Coonara Pygmy’. Small leaves red turning green and then gold in Fall. 4-6′
  • Acer palmatum ‘Koto Maru’. Green foliage and a very nice form reaching 3-6′ or 1-2m.
  • Acer palmatum ‘Shindeshojo’. Brilliant deep red new foliage, bushy dwarf habit and a favourite.

Landscaping Uses

Japanese Maple in Container
Japanese Maple in Container
  • Dwarf Japanese Maples are popular for growing beneath larger trees, in small gardens as well as in containers.
  • You will find Dwarf Japanese Maples in as many shapes, sizes and colours as the larger species.
  • These are the best Maples for growing in containers.
  • Dwarf Japanese Maples are sometimes used for bonsai.
  • They are an essential feature of any Japanese style garden.

When selecting a Dwarf Japanese Maple look for :

  • Hardiness – Some will take more cold than others
  • Growth habit and Leaf type – Generally the weeping types look better and the heavily dissected leaves also look better, it’s all a matter of scale.
  • A position in afternoon shade – Although they will cope with sun, you will get a better looking plant if it is protected from the hot afternoon sun. This will depend on your zone


The biggest problem with these tiny trees is hot wind, they actually grow surprisingly well in full sun.

You will also find that in deep shade foliage color can change a little, with purples leafed types tending more to green in very deep shade.