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Which japanese maple turns orange in fall?

Japanese maples are popular ornamental trees, valued for their striking foliage and graceful growth habit. While some varieties display rich red leaves in autumn, others turn vibrant shades of orange and yellow. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the top Japanese maple trees that develop orange fall color.

What Causes Japanese Maples to Turn Orange in Fall?

The brilliant fall foliage colors of Japanese maples are due to the same factors that affect other deciduous trees. As daylight hours shorten in autumn, trees begin to shut down photosynthesis in preparation for winter dormancy. The green chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down, allowing other pigments that have been present all along to show through.

Carotenoids are pigments that produce yellow, orange, and brown shades in plants. Japanese maple leaves contain high levels of carotenoids, especially carotene and xanthophyll. These pigments shine through once the green chlorophyll is gone, resulting in the vibrant orange and yellow fall colors.

Cool night temperatures in autumn catalyze the breakdown of chlorophyll. Bright, sunny fall days also intensify the brilliance of carotenoid pigments. Weather conditions play a role in the intensity of orange and yellow autumn leaf color each year.

Top Japanese Maple Varieties for Orange Fall Color

While most Japanese maples display some amount of orange in autumn, certain cultivars are prized for their intensely rich shades. Here are some top picks:


This popular mid-sized maple features deeply cut, red-edged leaves that turn brilliant crimson in spring and fall. However, in some years a high percentage of the leaves turn orange and yellow instead of red.


As the name suggests, this laceleaf maple was selected for its remarkable orange-red fall color. The fine dissected foliage provides great contrast to the fall tones.


This sturdy upright maple shows off brilliant orange-red fall color. The large leaves hold their color well late into the season.


One of the most popular Japanese maples, Osakazuki dazzles in autumn with intense orange-red foliage. The leaves are larger than many other varieties.


The delicate foliage on this laceleaf maple turns brilliant orange-scarlet in fall. It holds its color well into November.


This small maple is prized for its vivid fall palette. The deeply cut leaves develop intense shades of orange and scarlet.


The crinkled leaves on this compact globe-shaped maple turn brilliant orange-crimson in autumn. It’s one of the best small trees for fall color.

Other Japanese Maples with Orange Fall Color

In addition to the top performers listed above, many other Japanese maple varieties display reliable orange and yellow fall foliage. Here are a few more great options:

  • ‘Beni Komachi’ – Small upright maple with orange-red fall color.
  • ‘Beni schichihenge’ – Lacy orange-red leaves.
  • ‘Moonfire’ – Brighter orange leaves than Bloodgood.
  • ‘Ogon sarasa’ – Chartreuse foliage turns orange-red.
  • ‘O isami’ – Vivid orange leaves on a compact maple.
  • ‘Sango kaku’ – The “coral bark” maple turns orange in fall.
  • ‘Seiryu’ – Upright tree with bright orange-scarlet autumn tones.
  • ‘Shinobu ga oka’ – Graceful dissected leaves glow orange.
  • ‘Suminagashi’ – Small laceleaf with orange, red and yellow fall foliage.
  • ‘Tsukasa silhouettes’ – Fine leaves display shades of orange and red.

How to Choose a Japanese Maple for Orange Fall Color

When selecting a Japanese maple known for its orange autumn hues, keep these tips in mind:

  • Select a cultivar specifically prized for orange fall color, not just intense red foliage.
  • Look for trees grown from grafts or named cultivars, not seedlings.
  • Consider the size and growth habit you need. There are orange-leaved varieties suitable for everything from tiny courtyards to larger landscapes.
  • Choose named cultivars over generic seed-grown maples for the most vivid and consistent orange tones.
  • Buy from a reputable nursery that provides accurate information and labeling for maple cultivars.

Here is a handy table comparing some top orange-leaved Japanese maple varieties:

Cultivar Growth Habit Mature Size Leaf Characteristics
Orangeola Laceleaf/weeping 8-10 ft tall x 10-15 ft wide Finely dissected leaves
Omurayama Upright 15-20 ft tall x 10-15 ft wide Large leaves
Osakazuki Upright 20-25 ft tall x 15-20 ft wide Large, deeply lobed leaves
Scolopendrifolium Laceleaf 10-15 ft tall x 10-15 ft wide Delicate, lacy, deeply cut leaves
Shindeshojo Upright 10-15 ft tall x 8-12 ft wide Deeply divided leaves
Shishigashira Compact, globe-shaped 6-10 ft tall x 4-6 ft wide Crinkled, twisted leaves

How to Care for Japanese Maples with Orange Fall Color

To keep your orange-foliaged Japanese maple healthy and looking its best:

  • Plant in humus-rich, well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Amend clay soils with compost or peat moss.
  • Locate in partial sun to light shade. Maple foliage will scorch if exposed to hot afternoon sun.
  • Water regularly when first planted, then taper off to weekly deep soaking. Avoid soggy soil.
  • Mulch around the root zone to conserve soil moisture and reduce weeds.
  • Prune selectively in late winter to enhance shape and structure.
  • Fertilize lightly in early spring with a balanced organic fertilizer.
  • Monitor for pests like maple bladder gall mite or verticillium wilt disease.

With appropriate care and growing conditions, your orange-leaved Japanese maple will thrive for decades of stunning autumn displays.

Where to Buy an Orange Japanese Maple

You can find Japanese maples with orange fall foliage at:

  • Local independent garden centers and nurseries
  • National chains like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, etc.
  • Mail order nurseries that specialize in Japanese maples
  • Online retailers like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc.
  • Wholesale growers (usually require large minimum orders)
  • Rare plant sales, conventions, and fundraisers
  • Other gardeners and maple enthusiasts

For the widest selection, try mail order nurseries or specialty growers. Buying from local sources is recommended to ensure the plants are already acclimatized to your area.

How Much Do Orange Japanese Maples Cost?

Prices for orange-leaf Japanese maples can range considerably depending on:

  • Age and size – Younger/smaller plants are more affordable than mature trees.
  • Specific cultivar – Rare or unusual varieties are more expensive.
  • Time of year – Prices increase in peak spring planting season.
  • Retailer – Boutique nurseries charge more than big box stores.
  • Whether the tree is in a container or bare root.
  • Plant health and structural development.

In general, expect to pay:

  • Small starter plants in 1-2 gallon pots: $15 – $60
  • Established young trees in 5-7 gallon pots: $50 – $150
  • Larger container-grown trees: $100 – $400
  • Mature orange-leaf maple specimens: $300+

Sale prices and special offers can sometimes reduce costs. Buying bare root plants in winter is also cheaper than getting containerized trees.

Are Orange Japanese Maples Higher Maintenance?

While Japanese maples with orange fall color have the same general care needs as other types, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • They may be more sensitive to drought stress. Orange trees need more regular irrigation.
  • Leaf scorch can be an issue if orange varieties receive too much sun.
  • Expect some leaf drop and weaker branch structure compared to red-leaf cultivars.
  • Orange trees may be more prone to pests and diseases. Monitor vigilantly.
  • Pruning for structure and form is important for orange Japanese maples.

With proper siting and care focused on their sensitivities, orange-leaved Japanese maples can thrive just as well as other types. Their dazzling fall color makes a little extra maintenance worthwhile.

How Long Do Orange Japanese Maples Live?

Under optimal growing conditions, Japanese maples can live for decades. Some cared for specimens in Japan have survived for over 100 years! In home landscapes, expect a lifespan of:

  • 15-25 years for an inexpensive seed-grown maple.
  • 25-50+ years for a named grafted cultivar bought from a reputable source.
  • 50-100+ years for an mature orange-leaf Japanese maple tree.

Make sure to buy the healthiest plant you can find from a trusted nursery. Then provide attentive care and your orange Japanese maple could delight you with its fall color for your lifetime!

Stunning Orange Japanese Maples for Fall

If you’re looking to add vibrant orange hues to your autumn landscape, Japanese maples are a perfect choice. Select a cultivar prized specifically for its orange fall color. Give the tree ideal growing conditions and it will reward you with a breathtaking display year after year. An orange-leaved Japanese maple is sure to be a treasured addition to any garden.