Need replacement for Japanese maple

two_munkeys(z6 ON)May 7, 2008

I need to replace a dead Jap map in a front garden with something other than a Jap map. Is there a shrub comparable in beauty to a red cutleaf Japanese maple? OK, maybe comparable is too ambitious, how about almost as nice?

The site is northern exposure, open shade and somewhat moist. Something taller (4-5'+) would get 1/2 day sun on upper branches. Zone 6b. It will be the focal point in the garden.

I'd like something red-leaved and interesting. All I can come up with is purple sandcherry, coppertina ninebark, and black lace elderberry, none of which are really specimen type plants for the front of the house. (I like the black lace but it probably grows too large and unruly, also its not really red but rather dark purple or black leaved).

OH, wait I also saw a red-leaved witch hazel but my husband doesn't really like this plant (and its also sorta black).

Any ideas would be great!!


P.S. A couple of days ago on a Sunday drive, I spotted an interesting looking small weeping shrub about 4' tall with red leaves that looked like it had flower buds. I was thinking it might be some kind of weeping flowering crabapple/cherry/plum. Is there such a thing? I'd seen this shrub/tree in years past and always thought it was a weeping Jap map, but this time of year with the flower buds, I wonder if its something else. Maybe I should knock on the door and ask about it.

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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

There's a rather unique Redbud variety that has dark-reddish leaves but I don't recall the name.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 2:43PM
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There is a cutleaf, burgundy colored elderberry that is suggested as an alternative for Japanese maples in those areas where growing them is an issue. Look for Sambucus 'Black Lace'

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 4:15PM
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You want a maximum size of 4 to 5 feet tall?

I have the 'Black Lace' elderberry and it does not get unruly. In 2.5 years, it hasn't suckered at all and hasn't ground very much. But it does have beautiful foliage and blooms.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 9:26PM
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ornata(London UK (8/9?))

I have two Sambucus 'Black Lace'. The foliage is lovely, but they do grow extremely vigorously (as you'd expect from an elderberry), sending out long shoots. Next spring I'm going to be brutal and hack them right down to the ground in an attempt to keep them under control.

What I also have is a twisted red-leaf hazel - Corylus 'Red Majestic'. Some people think the leaves look sickly and distorted - actually they look pretty health and attractive. It also has nice pinkish catkins. It's said to be a very slow grower, but I'm not finding that to be the case. It's definitely a specimen shrub, as you need a bit of space around it to appreciate the twisted stems.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 5:12AM
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there is a nandina cultivar 'royal princess' with narrow leaves that are more fern-like than the species. it exhibits some red color in the new spring growth and also winter foliage turns red. it does produce berries for winter interest. i like this one but remove the fruits from mine because of unwanted plants seeding around. check to see if nandina is an invasive species for your area but i doubt it because of your cold zone. there is also 'plum passion' nandina with purplish foliage that is appealing to me.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 11:59AM
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linrose(6b KY)

The red-leafed redbud is called 'Forest Pansy' and I grew it in Guelph, ON. It's wonderful. It is a small tree however.

What happened to your Japanese maple? I hope you haven't sworn off them, they are among the most magnificent plants I've ever grown.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 7:18PM
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glad the name of the thread changed.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 8:38PM
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two_munkeys(z6 ON)

Thank you for the ideas!

Will have to research nandina....never heard of it.

I don't mind a small tree, if its small, but I don't think a redbud will fit the bill. Something narrower would be better.

Linrose, the nursery guy thinks my japanese maple succumbed to verticillium wilt, which means I can't plant another one in its place (the fungus lives in the soil). I surely haven't sworn off them as I agree with you, they are the most magnificent tree out there. Which is why I'm at a loss trying to find a suitable replacement - there is nothing that compares! The one I lost was in the ground 6 years and it was gorgeous.

I'm desperately hoping my other japanese maples are spared but only time will tell.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 3:48PM
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