Most nurseries and plant specialists will begin selling an assortment of Acer Palmatums as early as May, but that’s not the best time to buy Japanese maples. If you’re not the first customer in the door when the trees are taken off the truck, you’ll very likely miss the best trees. In fact, the super rare Japanese maples are usually spoken for long before they even ship.
Best Time of Year to Buy Japanese Maples
If you’re looking for a larger specimen (over 5 gallons) it’s a good idea to preorder these from a grower like Topiary Gardens in August. Preordered Japanese maples will ship in May of the following year. While you’ll very likely find rows of Bloodgood and Crimson Queen at the big box stores, more unique maples like Amagi Shigure, Acer Palmatum Ukigumo, or Mikazuki will rarely flash their foliage in any size, let alone in larger containers.
Why preorder Japanese maples?
These trees aren’t grown in huge quantities, and if you wait to see what arrives, you may miss an opportunity to add a truly unique tree to your garden. When you preorder your trees, you’ll not only be guaranteed to get the exact cultivar you’re seeking, but you’ll be able to get a larger specimen so you won’t have to wait decades to enjoy it. Knowing when to buy Japanese maples also helps you plan out your garden for the following year. Beautiful gardens don’t happen by accident, they’re the result of careful planning, and seeking out just the right plants for each part of the garden, and understanding how the colors, shapes, and textures will work together.
Don’t limit yourself to plants either. Think about rocks, pines and other shrubs, and how these will help to frame up that unique Japanese maple that you’ve set aside. When you buy a small tree, you need to place material around it that won’t overwhelm the composition. Then, as the tree grows, you’ll need to replace the rocks and plants around it to keep things in scale. When you start out with a larger tree, you’ll be able to plan out the garden more easily, without replacing things as the tree matures.
Often, you can make a small space into an elegant garden with just a simple specimen Japanese maple, a rock, and some ground cover. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a collection of maples to enjoy their beauty.