Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’: Japanese Garden Star

Acer palmatum bloodgood
Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’
Common name : Japanese Maple
Family : Aceraceae

Acer palmatums are tremendous garden plants, probably amongst the best loved of ornamental garden trees.

Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’, a round-headed, deciduous tree or shrub growing to 5m x 5m, is undoubtedly one of the best. Here it is pictured in a border in early spring with Matteuccia srutheopteris (the shuttlecock fern) at RHS Rosemoor in Devon, England.

It has deeply cut, 5 lobed, dark red to purple leaves about 5-20cm long which turn bright red in autumn. Its tiny flowers are insignificant but it also has interesting red samara (winged) fruit.

Where summers are hot, ‘Bloodgood’ prefers shade or partial shade as otherwise it may suffer leaf scorch.

It tolerates most soils but prefers those that are moist, fertile and well drained. It is hardy down to -15 degrees C and is moderately drought and salt tolerant.

Grown for its striking summer and autumn foliage colour, Bloodgood can be a good design focal point, a feature plant or, as you can see in the photograph above, an excellent contrast to green foliage plants in a border.

You could very well consider teaming it with Acanthus mollis, since both have similar preferences for soil and partial shade.

This tremendously versatile tree can also be grown in containers, trained as a standard or even bonsaied.
Acer palmatum, variety bloodgood, leaves

Maintenance

Acers of this species only need pruning to maintain a healthy framework. This is done by removing wayward or crossing stems and should be carried out when the tree is dormant in late autumn or winter.

A general purpose fertiliser should be applied annually in spring and and the roots well mulched.

‘Bloodgood’ should be well watered in its first year to allow its roots to establish.

Pests and diseases

Can be prone to aphids, mites and scale insects.

Propagation

Graft in winter, bud in late summer.

Can also be propagated by sowing seed in containers or outdoor in situ, though resulting plants are unlikely to come true to the cultivar.

Buy

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But remember to compare like with like – make sure you’re comparing plants of approximately the same size. There is a big difference in price between advanced sized ornamental trees and small saplings.

References

Brickell C (ed), 1998, the Royal Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants Dorling Kindersley, London.

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