I was looking for an upright growing laceleaf Japanese maple for the entry to a courtyard, and turns out, there is only one: Japanese maple ‘Seiryu’ (Acer palmatum ‘Seiryu’).
Japanese maples typically fall into two distinct groups: upright (Acer palmatum) and weeping (Acer dissectum). Japanese maples are iconic in either form, which is not always a positive: too many landscapes that feature Japanese maples lose cohesiveness…I am often left asking ‘why a Japanese maple’?
You must tread carefully when considering a Japanese maple for your garden unless you fall into one of three types of gardeners: 1) You actually have a japanese garden. 2) Your passion is specific to Japanese maples. 3) You are drawn to interesting plants no matter what the species…I fall into this third group. If you do not fall into the above categories, there are many other interesting understory trees that will set your garden apart. Which leads us back to Acer palmatum ‘Seiryu’…
I have a definite soft spot for rare or unusual Japanese maples such as ‘Seiryu’ or the sublime Japanese maple ‘Bihou’.
Japanese Maple ‘Seiryu’, like many Japanese maples, is an outstanding understory tree, and I can confirm from direct experience that ‘Seiryu’ is fine in direct sun, although some shade is fine as well…you don’t need to agonize over this detail. In addition, ‘Seiryu’ is undemanding as to soils…feel free to plant in whatever conditions you may find, with the exception of hot, dry sites. A combination of full sun and dry soil is to doom the tree.
Hardy zones 5-8.
Acer palmatum ‘Seiryu’ will grow to 10′-15′ with a similar spread. New growth is bright green with red margins, maturing to medium green foliage that is fine and lacy. I have not personally found fall foliage to be spectacular but others report yellow and orange fall colors.