Acer palmatum ‘Emperor I’

red Japanese maple

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Outstanding Qualities

The Emperor I Japanese maple sets a new standard for red-leaf Japanese maples. The new growth emerges in the spring a deep purple-red and holds the color better than the popular cultivar ‘Bloodgood’. In the fall the foliage changes to crimson. Vigorous in youth it will gain in size quickly, but still mature into a medium sized tree, perfect for the urban garden. It tends to leaf out later than many Japanese maples thereby avoiding the damage of any late frost.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: upright tree

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 18 ft. 0 in. (5.49 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 12 ft. 0 in. (3.66 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 30 ft. 0 in. (9.14 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 30 ft. 0 in. (9.14 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 to 9

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun or light to open shade

Water Requirements: regular watering

Seasonal Interest: spring, summer, autumn foliage color

Colors & Combos

Great Plant Combinations: Acer palmatum ‘Seiryû’, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Split Rock’, Camellia x williamsii ‘J.C. Williams’, Actinidia kolomika, Lilium regale

Great Color Contrasts: lavender, cream, white, green

Great Color Partners: red, burgundy, blue

Culture Notes
This lovely upright grower develops the best foliage color in full sun to open shade. Japanese maples are surprisingly flexible in their soil requirements. Although they will grow best in a rich well-drained soil, they will also do well in sandy soils and clay. ‘Emperor I’ is very resistant to the leaves burning at the tips during the summer, but regular watering during dry weather helps maintain the tree at its best. Well pruned Japanese maples are an art form in the garden and require an expert touch, so consult an experienced pruner or take local classes before attempting to prune.