Exploring the Stunning Coral Bark Japanese Maple Tree: A Guide

Exploring the Stunning Coral Bark Japanese Maple Tree: A Guide

The Japanese Maple is a beautiful tree known for its stunning colors and unique features. One of the most popular cultivars is the Coral Bark Maple, which gets its name from the vibrant coral-pink bark that it develops in the winter. This tree is a part of the Sapindaceae family and is native to Japan. It is a small tree that can grow up to 15-20 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide. It is commonly planted as an ornamental tree in gardens and landscapes.

The Coral Bark Maple has rounded leaves that turn bright orange in the autumn, adding a splash of color to any landscape. The tree is also known for its delicate flowers that bloom in the spring. It thrives in zones 6-9 and prefers a well-drained soil. It is important to keep the tree well-watered, especially during dry periods, but avoid overwatering as it can lead to root rot.

When planting a Coral Bark Maple, it is crucial to choose a location that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. This will help protect the tree from the hot afternoon sun and prevent leaf scorch. Additionally, it is important to provide regular pruning to maintain the tree’s beautiful shape and promote air circulation. This will help prevent diseases and common pests, such as leafhoppers, from infesting the tree.

If you are considering adding a Coral Bark Maple to your landscape, there are a few key points to keep in mind. Firstly, the tree needs space to grow and should not be planted too close to other large trees or shrubs. Secondly, it is important to ensure proper drainage to prevent waterlogged soil. Lastly, it is crucial to protect the tree from frost and harsh winter weather, especially in colder zones.

Japanese Maple – Coral Bark. Image by NC State University, R. Duram. [source]

How to Grow Coral Bark Maple ‘Sango Kaku’ Maple

Growing the Coral Bark Maple ‘Sango Kaku’ Maple can be a rewarding experience for any gardener. This beautiful tree, also known as Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’, is cherished for its stunning coral-pink bark, especially in the winter months. Here are some tips on how to successfully grow this vibrant Japanese maple variety.

Light: Japanese Maples thrive in partial shade to full sun. Finding the right balance of light is key to keeping your Coral Bark Maple healthy and productive. Too much shade can result in a weaker growth, while too much direct sun can cause the leaves to scorch.

Soil: The Sango Kaku Maple prefers moist, well-draining soil. It is important to ensure that the soil is not too compacted or heavy to prevent the roots from suffocating. Additionally, acidic soils are favorable for these maples.

Water: Keeping the soil consistently moist, especially during dry spells, is essential to the well-being of your Coral Bark Maple. However, it is important to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.

Fertilizer: Applying a balanced fertilizer in the spring and summer will help provide the necessary nutrients for growth. Be careful not to over-fertilize as it can burn the roots of the tree.

Caring for pests and diseases: Regularly inspecting your maple tree for pests such as leafhoppers and diseases like powdery mildew is crucial to maintaining its health. If any issues are detected, take appropriate measures to address them promptly.

Pruning: Pruning helps maintain the desired shape of the Coral Bark Maple and promotes better air circulation. However, it is important to prune during the dormant season to avoid excessively bleeding sap.

Space: When choosing a planting location, consider the mature size of the tree and give it enough space to grow. These maples can reach a height of 15-25 feet and have a spread of about 20 feet.

Coral Bark Maple ‘Sango Kaku’ features:

Scientific Name Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’
Common Name Coral Bark Maple ‘Sango Kaku’
Shape Upright and rounded
Bark Showcasing coral-pink color, especially in winter
Leaf Palmate and simple
Zones 5-9

With its stunning bark and beautiful leaf colors, the Coral Bark Maple ‘Sango Kaku’ is a must-have for any garden. By providing the right conditions and care, you can enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of this exquisite tree.

Please note: The information provided here is a general guideline for growing the Coral Bark Maple ‘Sango Kaku’. Certain variations and specific conditions may affect the growth and development of individual trees. For more detailed information, please consult a reputable horticulturist or gardening expert.

Coral Bark Maple Care

Japanese Maple trees, also known as Acer palmatum, are beautiful and unique additions to any garden or landscape. The Coral Bark Maple, also called ‘Sango-Kaku’, is a specific variety known for its stunning coral-colored bark.

When planting a Coral Bark Maple, it is important to choose a location with well-draining soil. Maples prefer soil that is slightly acidic and rich in organic matter. Ensure that the planting hole is deep and wide enough to accommodate the roots of the tree.

Watering is crucial for the health and growth of Coral Bark Maples. During the first few years, provide regular watering to establish strong roots. Once established, maples have average watering needs and should be watered deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between watering sessions.

In terms of fertilization, Coral Bark Maples generally do not need much additional fertilizer. However, a slow-release fertilizer can be applied in early spring to promote healthy growth. Avoid excessive use of nitrogen-based fertilizers, as this can lead to weak growth and increased susceptibility to diseases and pests.

Pruning is an essential aspect of maintaining the shape and overall health of Coral Bark Maples. Prune maples during the dormant season, typically in late winter or early spring. Remove any dead or diseased branches and thin out the canopy to improve air circulation. Be cautious not to prune too heavily, as this can stress the tree.

Coral Bark Maples are generally hardy in USDA zones 6-9. However, they are more sensitive to extreme temperatures, both cold and hot, compared to other maple varieties. Provide some shade during the hottest part of the day, especially in warmer climates, to prevent leaf scorching and drying out of the soil.

The Coral Bark Maple is known for its vibrant coral-colored bark, which shows the most intense color during the winter months. This stunning feature adds year-round interest to any garden or landscape. The bark color intensifies in direct sunlight and colder temperatures.

Overall, Coral Bark Maple care involves providing the right soil conditions, watering adequately, occasional fertilization, proper pruning, and protecting the tree from extreme temperatures. By following these tips, you can enjoy the beauty and unique qualities of this extraordinary tree for many years to come.


The Japanese Maple ‘Sango-kaku’ needs to be planted in a location that provides it with the right amount of light. They will experience their best coral bark color in full sun, however, they can also tolerate partial shade. When planting in an area with too much shade, the bark color may not develop to its full potential.

It is important to keep in mind that the more sun the ‘Sango-kaku’ receives, the more vibrant its bark color will be. In areas with harsh afternoon sun, providing some shade during the hottest part of the day can help protect the tree from scorching. The ‘Sango-kaku’ can also tolerate some light frost, but it is best to avoid planting it in an area where it is exposed to frost or freezing temperatures for long periods of time.

When considering the lighting needs of the ‘Sango-kaku’, it is important to note that even though it is a small tree, it can grow into a larger shape over time. Therefore, when planting, it is a good idea to give it ample space so that it can grow without being crowded by other plants or structures.

It is also worth mentioning that while the ‘Sango-kaku’ can tolerate a range of soil types, it prefers well-draining soils. If the soil in your garden has poor drainage, it is a good idea to amend it with organic matter or consider creating raised beds to ensure proper water drainage.

The ‘Sango-kaku’ is a member of the Acer palmatum family, which is well-known for its stunning foliage. The ‘Sango-kaku’ stands out from other cultivars with its bright orange bark, especially during the winter months when the leaves have fallen. This cultivar is also known as the Coral Bark Maple, due to the vibrant color of its bark.

One unique characteristic of the ‘Sango-kaku’ is that the color of its bark intensifies with exposure to sunlight. In warmer climates, the bark may have a more pinkish hue, while in cooler climates it may appear more orange. This phenomenon makes the ‘Sango-kaku’ a great tree to have in your garden, as it can show different color variations depending on the light and temperature conditions.

The ‘Sango-kaku’ is a relatively low-maintenance tree. It does not require excessive watering, but it is important to make sure the soil is consistently moist. It is recommended to water deeply, about once a week, especially during dry spells. However, it is important not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot and other problems.

Another important aspect of caring for the ‘Sango-kaku’ is pruning. Regular pruning can help maintain its desired shape and prevent it from becoming overgrown. Pruning is best done during the dormant season, in late winter or early spring. It is also important to remove any dead or diseased branches as soon as they are noticed.

The ‘Sango-kaku’ is generally considered to be a pest-free tree, but it can still be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. Some common pests that may affect the ‘Sango-kaku’ include aphids, scale insects, and caterpillars. Regular inspections and taking appropriate measures, such as applying insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, can help prevent and control infestations.

In conclusion, the ‘Sango-kaku’ Japanese Maple is a beautiful tree that can add color and interest to any garden. Its unique coral bark, vibrant foliage, and relatively low maintenance make it a popular choice among gardeners. By following these tips on how to care for the ‘Sango-kaku’, you can enjoy its beauty and benefits for many years to come.


Japanese Maples, scientifically known as Acer palmatum, are beautiful trees that are known for their vibrant colors and graceful shape. The Coral Bark variety, also known as Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’, is particularly popular for its striking coral-pink bark, which is especially stunning in the winter months.

To keep your Japanese Maple thriving, it is important to provide it with the right soil conditions. These trees prefer well-drained soils with a slightly acidic pH. They do best in loamy soils that are rich in organic matter and have good drainage. Clay or sandy soils can be amended with organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, to improve water drainage.

It is also important to consider the moisture needs of the Japanese Maple. These trees prefer consistently moist soil but can tolerate brief periods of dryness. Over-watering, however, can lead to root rot and other problems. To maintain the ideal moisture levels, check the soil regularly and water deeply when it feels dry to the touch. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely.

During the winter months, it is important to protect the roots of the Japanese Maple from freezing. Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the tree to insulate the soil and retain moisture. This will help prevent the soil from freezing and reduce the risk of frost damage to the roots.

Japanese Maples belong to the Sapindaceae family and are native to Japan and other parts of Asia. They are relatively easy to care for and can grow well without much attention. However, regular pruning and fertilizing can help promote healthy growth and enhance the tree’s natural beauty.

When planting a Japanese Maple, dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball but only as deep as the root ball. Be sure to keep the root collar, where the root ball meets the trunk, slightly above the soil level. After planting, water the tree thoroughly and keep the soil moist until the tree is established.

In terms of fertilizer, Japanese Maples have moderate nutrient needs. Fertilize the tree once a year in the early spring using a balanced, slow-release fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for the appropriate dosage. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive growth and weak branches.

Japanese Maples are hardy in USDA zones 6-9. They prefer partial shade to full sun, although some varieties can tolerate more shade. Ideally, they should receive dappled sunlight or filtered light for a few hours each day. Too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, while too much shade can result in leggy growth.

In conclusion, the soil conditions are crucial for the health and vitality of Japanese Maples, including the Coral Bark variety. Provide well-drained, slightly acidic soil with good moisture retention, and protect the roots from freezing during winter. Regular care, such as pruning and fertilizing, can help maintain the tree’s overall health and appearance.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.