Coral Bark Japanese Maple Tree Care

Not all ornamental trees provide an all-season attraction in a landscape, but a few remain a beauty in all four seasons, including winter. That’s the coral bark Japanese maple. This tree boasts a highly attractive coral bark and changing foliage color that adapts to the prevailing season.

A beautiful tree that grows an average mature height of 15 to 20 feet, the coral bark Japanese maple is classified as a small tree that suits a small-spaced garden. And it’ll make your landscape attractive all year round.

Let’s talk more about this interesting tree species.

More About Coral Bark Japanese Maple Tree

Acer palmatum

Native to Central and South Japan as well as Korea, the coral-bark Japanese maple tree is a deciduous tree species belonging to the Sapindaceae (soapberry) family. It goes by the scientific name, Acer palmatum.

The growing form or habit of coral bark Japanese maples vary depending on their cultivar. For example, the Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’ is upright and vase-shaped. Other varieties have a more rounded form. In general, coral bark maple trees have a medium growth rate.

Many distinctive features set the coral bark maple tree apart from other maple trees. One is its coral bark. The stems, especially the young branches, are very prominent and attractive because of their color.

Such color intensifies when the cooler months hit. Once the leaves drop, the tree reveals its vibrant coral-red bark, grazing the winter landscape with unique beauty.

Its leaves are another story because they’re pretty on their own. They begin with a light green color in Spring which later turns into lime green once the Summer season comes. Wait for the late Summer and early fall to arrive and the leaves turn into a fall color (a combination of red, golden yellow, and rusty orange).

A coral bark Japanese maple tree will best serve as a focal point or accent tree, especially if what you have is a small yard or garden. It will surely provide an aesthetic element throughout the seasons.

Coral Bark Japanese Maple Tree Care

Acer palmatum @flckr

Another thing you’ll love about the coral bark Japanese maples is that their easy to care for and will require low maintenance once established. However, you must consider some specific requirements before planting it in your hardiness zones.


Your coral bark maple tree is adaptable to varying soil conditions. Any soil type will do whether it’s heavy clay, loam, sand, or shallow rocky. However, the best condition that will make it thrive is well-draining soil that has a slightly acidic pH (5.5 to 6.5) and is rich in nutrients or organic matter.

While it loves to keep its soil moist, good drainage is important to prevent harming the roots.

Ideal Light

Acer palmatum in full sun @flickr

The light requirement of coral bark Japanese maples will vary depending on the climate of where you live. In warmer climates, it will thrive in partial shade or dappled shade. But in cooler regions, these Japanese maples will tolerate full sun.


Young trees need regular watering to help support the growth of an extensive root system. The coral bark Japanese maple is susceptible to leaf scorch once underwatered. Make sure to water deeply and keep the soil moist.

Adding mulch around the tree’s base will help prevent moisture loss and ensure that your tree is well-hydrated. Once the tree planted is established in your garden, you can water less frequently.

Temperature & Humidity

You may plant a Japanese maple if you live in areas under hardiness zones 6 to 8. It thrives in moderate temperatures and humidity, not extreme heat or frost. Coral bark maple will be susceptible to frost damage, especially when young, so it helps to drape a plant cover over it during the winter season.

But if you’re living in warmer zones, a light frost will not be a problem.



The coral bark Japanese maple isn’t a heavy feeder so there’s no need to frequently provide fertilizer. It will benefit from a slow-release fertilizer applied once a year in early spring. The added nutrients will boost new growth, helping new leaves emerge from the defoliated tree.

Choose a fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen content as this will encourage lush growth of foliage, which is one main asset of coral bark maple.


You would have to wait for the tree to be established first for 2 to 3 years before pruning. After that, you may prune your coral-red bark tree. Since your tree will naturally take a rounded form, you can just trim the outgrowing branches around it.

However, once the shape has grown, you may need to do top pruning to keep the tree small. The best time to prune is during the dormant season.


Propagating coral bark Japanese maple is best done using softwood cuttings. Seeds are not a good option for propagation as they will only cause the tree to develop into the original Japanese maples.

Here’s a simple process to propagate:

  1. Find semi-softwood cuttings, not completely woody or herbaceous but somewhere in between.

  2. Cut the branches above the leaf node and remove the lower leaves.

  3. Quickly dip the end of the stem into a rooting hormone.

  4. Poke a hole into the potting mix and plant the cutting.

  5. Water the newly planted cuttings and place them in a location with partial shade.

  6. Keep the potting mix moist until the roots develop. You’ll know propagation is successful once you notice new leaves emerge in your coral bark maple cuttings.

Coral Bark Japanese Maple Similar Trees

Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Red Dragon’

Acer palmatum dissectum 'Red Dragon'

Red Dragon is a stunning cultivar of Japanese maple that’s popular for its reddish-purple foliage. It becomes more beautiful as the foliage turns crimson red during fall. It’s a small cultivar, reaching only an average height of 8 feet high.

Hence, it forms a mounding form and an incredible accent in your garden.

Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’

Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'

This species is another relative of the coral bark maple tree known for its yellow-orange spring foliage. As the season changes, the red leaves become visible as the tree’s fall color. Aureum is a dwarf variety, reaching only 10 feet high.

Acer palmatum ‘Beni-kawa’

Acer palmatum 'Beni-kawa'

Native to Japan, Korea, and China, Beni-kawa is another cultivar of Acer palmatum that can reach about 15 feet in height. Its leaves are also soft green during the Spring season but turn yellow-gold during fall. It’s very slow growing and will fit a small-spaced landscape.

Coral Bark Japanese Maple Common Diseases And Pests

Although coral bark Japanese maple is generally pest-free, some pests like aphids, scale, maple worms, leafrollers, and leafhoppers may occasionally visit. You can deal with these pests by spraying them off with pressurized water and applying horticultural oil to the infected area.

Anthracnose and bacterial blight are common diseases in Japanese maples. Trim off the diseased parts so the infection won’t spread to other areas. In cases of severe infection, spraying fungicide might be needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

No. Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’ has a moderate growth rate. It will take about 2 to 3 years before it will be fully established in the garden.

Yes, but it’s best to use the liquid-type Miracle Grow fertilizer. Apply them during the early stages of growth until your coral bark Japanese maple is established.

Yes, coffee grounds can be a source of nitrogen which will help boost the foliage growth of your Japanese maple tree.

You can purchase red maple tree seeds from one of our partner sellers here at Plantly. Be sure to also from our wide options of ornamental trees.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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