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Acer palmatum – Bihou Japanese Maple

Categories:Fall Color Test Garden Trees

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Undeniably beautiful and undeniably pricey, Japanese Maple Bihou has stunning bark of peach coral and a reputation for winter dieback of the branch tips. We decided to put our own test specimen Japanese Maple Bihou up against winter this year.

japanese maple bijou
Winter dieback in Japanese maple Bihou. view.

Winter cooperated. Much of the United States experienced a long and ferocious season of snow, ice, and lower than normal temperatures. Georgia is mild compared to much of the country, but our Japanese Maple Bihou was left outside unprotected in a pot all winter, which included temperatures as low as 15 degrees F. It is worth noting that plants grown in pots are more at risk during winter than those planted in the garden.

I will admit to trepidation in leaving this breathtakingly expensive maple out in the elements. As of 2014, small Japanese Maple Bihou trees can be purchased for the handsome sum of $100 or so. Even for those used to paying relatively large amounts for Japanese maples, prices north of $100 for a three-foot tree gives one pause.

So…how did our Japanese Maple Bihou fair this winter?

There was indeed winter dieback, but happily only minor damage. Tips tended to die back 4″ or so, hardly grounds for passing by such a unique and beautiful Japanese maple. Gardeners in northern climates should be wary, but if budget allowed, I would give this beautiful specimen a fighting chance by planting it in a garden microclimate protected from winter winds.

japanese maple bihou
Japanese maple Bihou after a tough winter…in the pot.

One season of testing is hardly conclusive, but considering Athens, Georgia experienced a winter of rare and enduring toughness I would definitely purchase this Japanese maple for my own garden. Working with clients is another story, as one would need to warn a customer that while early returns on Japanese maple Bihou are promising, the customer should be emotionally prepared for some (hopefully) minor dieback.

In closing, it is hard to over-emphasize how beautiful and unusual the peach colored stems of this little maple truly are. Nothing I have seen yet would warn me away from this stunning tree.


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