Friday, April 9, 2010
Acer palmatum 'Butterfly' has produced some enormous green leaves
When I moved to Asian Valley I must admit I was a bit uncomfortable finding this plant in such a prominent position at the Pagoda, but when I tentatively voiced that opinion to people more knowledgable about Japanese Maples than I am, George and Pat for example, I was reassured that if well sited and well tended, 'Butterfly' can be a beautiful plant. The problem is that all the Acer palmatum cultivars can suffer from leaf scorch. It's more a problem on newly planted specimens that don't have a root system sufficient to supply water quickly enough to offset transpiration deficits. Because they are so frequently used as specimens in the middle of a lawn (full sun) this is a problem many new gardeners encounter. After a period of time two things happen: the root system spreads, establishing itself and develops the ability to supply water when needed and The canopy of the plant grows to a size where it actually shades its own roots. Odd concept, like propelling a canoe without paddles just lunging and pausing...anyway it does get much better over time. The light variegation of our cultivar works against it in two ways: less chlorophyll means less sugar production so this plant doesn't have the vigor it would have if it were covered with those huge green leaves, and any browning is more visible.
Several people have suggested I visit the large plant at Brookside to see a perfectly grown 'Butterfly'. I've seen this plant dozens of times but never examined it closely till last year. It is nice. I think ours is sited well and expect good things from it but those sudden 90 degree days have already scorched the leaves a bit, as they have those of the Cornus controversa Variegata directly across from it.
Posted by ChrisU at 5:09 PM