GBFD – Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’

To celebrate Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), hosted by Christina at Garden of the Hesperides, I bring you Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’.

This is an unusual Japanese Maple cultivar has incredibly long, often twisted and deeply cut leaves that open deep maroon in spring (and on new growth) and then turn to red/bronze in cool-summer climates like mine in summer: however, if yours is an area with warm-hot summers or if the plant receives too much shade then the summer foliage will simply be dark-green.

In autumn the leaves change to shades of yellow-orange rather than the fiery reds typically associated with the genus, so it makes a nice contrast alongside other maples or against dark green foliage plants.

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Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’ Close-up of new growth

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Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’

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Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’

As with any of the dissected Japanese Maples, protection from strong wind is essential as winds will desiccate the leaves and can dehydrate the plant, even if the soil is moist.

This need for shelter is made more difficult by the fact that most of the cut-leaf cultivars have red/purple leaves, meaning they need ample, yet gentle sunshine to retain that leaf colour (and let’s face it, a full sun position that receives afternoon shade and shelter from winds is often mutually exclusive!).

‘Red Pygmy’ will take about 20 years to get to about 2.5m tall by 2m wide (9′ x 6′) so is great for small spaces, large pots and sheltered courtyards.

Happy GBFD and happy gardening 🙂

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28 thoughts on “GBFD – Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’

  1. That is a new cultivar to me. I had a ‘Best Red’ Dissectum that was fabulous. Planted in front of a wall with an Eastern exposure sort of under a Cherry….
    You are so right about siting Japanese Maples. Sort of like yoga positions.

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    • They are so fussy when it comes to being windswept…I am lucky to have a very sheltered spot in the garden thanks to a collection of ugly outbuildings, otherwise it would be impossible for me as well!

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    • It’s the same story when I lived in Sydney – Japanese maples grew there, but they needed so much afternoon shade that they invariably lost their summer colour. It’s not too much drama, as the leaves look wonderful regardless of the colour!

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      • I have seen them available but we are working out whether or not it is worth buying one if they don’t survive all that well here. Might just have to enjoy them in other people’s gardens.

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      • I don’t believe they’re cheap. I got this one at a nursery that was closing down temporarily to be renovated so it was very, very reduced and even then it is one of the more expensive purchases in the garden

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      • Steve has paid up to $120 for a maple but then we met a good friend who runs a cold climate shrub nursery (did some work experience for him when we were hort students) and started getting them wholesale through him. We have stopped collecting them now as our property isn’t actually prime maple country but we do have a big old Japanese maple alongside our deck steps that has survived the possums for years. We planted out a few Japanese maples (stock standard) and 2 survived so fingers crossed they grow. They are lovely things. We also collect other maples and planted out a sugar maple and another wide leaved maple that I can’t remember it’s name at the moment and they are both growing. Maples are pretty hardy but the more delicate weeping grafted varieties struggle in our conditions.

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  2. I like the thready leaves of the Red Pygmy much better than the one I have – a Red Dragon. It was one of the first plants I bought when we moved to Oregon, land of a seemingly endless number of Japanese maple varieties. In retrospect, I wish I would have learned more about them first, and been a bit more selective, but hey – live and learn… right?

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