Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) varieties come in an amazing variety of foliage colors, with red being one of the most sought after. A beloved cultivar of these lovely small trees is Beni-Maiko.

The name means “Red-Haired Dancing Girl” in Japanese, and if you would suspect that the overall look of the tree is both dainty and dramatic, you’d be correct.

Huge Japanese Maple

This Variety is a Stunner

There are variations in the way that these small Maple ornamentals present their foliage color. It’s notable that the Beni-Maiko trees burst forth in spring with a vibrant blast of red, bringing early interest after bland winters.

After this initial blaze of crimson, the leaves fade gently to pinkish-red, then to green with red veins for the summer months – finally going all out for their fall color with intense oranges and red. The 3 to 5-lobed leaves are pointed, shaped more like a traditional Maple leaf, and their somewhat irregular shapes add to their interest.

It’s the Perfect Size for a Modern Lifestyle

Japanese Maple

As a dwarf variety, Beni-Maiko makes an excellent specimen for bonsai and has been proven as a plant that adapts well to container plantings. Even in the landscape, it stays quite small, getting to only about 6 feet at maturity. It does well in full sun to partial shade and is tolerant of soils with a pH that ranges from acidic to neutral, and types from loamy to sandy.  The best color is achieved with some shade.

As a container plant, this Japanese Maple is perfectly suited. As mentioned, it makes a great candidate for bonsai, but it will also be quite happy in a container on a patio or courtyard. Unlike many other plants, Maples allow their lucky owners to watch them changing colors with the seasons, and the Beni-Maiko cultivar is quite dynamic in this regard!

Japanese Maples Are Remarkably Low-Maintenance

Japanese Maple Leaves

Caring for your little Maple is rather easy. They are naturally hardy to U.S. Zone 5 if kept outdoors – with the caveat that the roots are more susceptible to freezing in a container. Thus, patio plants should have their pots insulated with bubble wrap or similar during cold weather.

A potting mix that is loam-based, high in organic matter content, and well-draining will keep your Beni-Maiko happy. It likes a moist, but not damp soil, and would like to be fertilized twice a year: Spring and fall, with a slow-release fertilizer. It should maintain its shape without pruning, and will probably need to be potted up to a larger container every couple of years or so – best done in the early spring or the late summer.  If you do need to prune or repot your Japanese Maple, undertake it in winter when it’s dormant. Like all Maples, the sap will begin to run in your plant every spring, and you don’t want to stress it at this critical point of growth.  To keep your tree’s size down, prune long branches back to a lower point where they divide, during the plant’s dormant season.

Your Maple Needs a Little Sun, A Little Shelter

As far as placement, the red leaves of your Beni-Maiko will maintain their best color if the pot is located where it will receive morning or afternoon sun. If your leaves aren’t colorful, adjust their placement where they will receive more sun – but be sure to monitor in changes in your plant’s watering needs. They don’t particularly like strong winds, so a sheltered environment on a patio or courtyard is ideal.

Japanese Maples will provide years of joy for any owner, and the Beni-Maiko cultivar is one of the most satisfying. It’s an elegant addition to any style of home or landscape, and the unique nature of the leaf color will always encourage conversation.

Enjoy your little “Red-Haired Dancer”!

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