To many homeowners, Bloodgood is the quintessential Japanese Maple. The broad red leaves that glow as sunlight passes through them are a sight to behold.
No wonder we all want one!
More often than not when I tell a customer how big they actually get, I feel as I just shattered dreams and broke their heart.
Yes, Bloodgoods are slow growing and many growers list their 10 year height as 8-10', they will get much bigger at maturity, often reaching 15-20' tall and wide with age.
In order to find some hardy varieties of Japanese maples that truly stay small, I searched far and wide. I've found some alternatives to the Bloodgood, that fit in the smaller lots that are becoming much more common.
The Top 4 Dwarf Japanese Maples
- Twombly's Red Sentinel This is a broadleaf form similar to Bloodgood but has a much more narrow habit which allows it to fit in tighter spaces where spread would be a concern with Bloodgood. It reaches about 10-15' tall and 6-8' wide with the same deep purple-red leaves that has made Bloodgood such a popular pick.
- Red Spider - At first glance, Red Spider may appear to be more similar to Tamukeyama or other weeping, cut-leaf varieties but it is an upright akin to Bloodgood with finer cut leaves and the same scarlet red fall color. It is slow growing to 12' tall and slightly wider, so if height is your limiting factor, Red Spider is a great option.
- Fireglow - A slower growing form of Bloodgood for those that don't mind pruning to maintain a smaller tree. Eventually reaches that same 15-20' tall and wide as Bloodgood, but with a more manageable growth rate.
- Baby Lace - Take a look at this Baby Lace. It's the smallest Japanese Maple... ever. Baby Lace only gets about 3' tall and 4' wide. It has lacy green leaves that emerge reddish-orange in the spring and turn orange and red in the fall. A great choice for the smallest spots or for bonsai specimen!
Japanese Maples make the ideal specimen tree for your landscape. If you're tight on space, try one of the options I mentioned above. You many also want to consider another variety of dwarf ornamental. Take a look at this article on the best dwarf ornamental trees for the landscape here.