Vine Maple-A Wonderful Native Tree for Coastal Gardens


When I first moved to Oregon and encountered the diminutive but fiery vine maple (acer circinatum) I was immediately enchanted.

Vine maples really shine in a coastal garden. They are uniquely adapted to our mild temperate climate with the result that it takes only a minimum fall in temperature to extract the dazzling display of red, gold, and yellow color.

Once the leaves have dropped, the vine maple continues to provide a winter focal point offering lovely variegated grey and white bark. This is especially striking with trees that have been pruned to showcase multi-trunked structure, somewhat like a crape myrtle. Allow the top of the tree to grown into a spreading leafy canopy. Keep the canopy thinned to allow wind passage and light to reach the interior.

Vine maples have a streamlined profile so can be place closed to structures or paths. Placing bulbs, small shrubs, or groundcovers under the vine maple makes a nice plant grouping. The maple will provide partial to full shade to all those wonderful shade loving natives. Try a vine maple anchored planting by a stream, water chase, or drainage area.

Maintenance is simple. Give the tree some shelter from direct ocean wind. Planting the tree on the inland side of a house or structure is just the ticket. As a native, the vine maple does not require fertilizer, but will benefit from topdressing of compost annually. The tree will appreciate a weekly long-slow watering during the dry months but will probably endure without it. Prune to shape the tree into your desired shape.

LCMGA always has a number of vine maples available during our annual spring plant sale.

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