Acer palmatum Ukigumo means ‘Floating Cloud’ in Japanese because of the spreading habit of the branches in horizontal layers that Japanese translate to clouds. The new growth may have green leaves variegated with white and pink which add to the overall cloud effect. In the right conditions Ukigumo maples may seem almost white in the spring and summer. My recommended sun exposure is from morning to early afternoon with shade protection during the hottest part of the day. Ukigumo is one of my top 20 favorite maples.
If your Ukigumo does not appear very white in the spring it may be a problem with fertilizer. Too much fertilizer can cause any maple to lose its variegation. Then you will see mostly green leaves. Japanese Maples do not want or need fertilizer if planted in the ground. If planted in a container then a small amount of Osmocote fertilizer, in the spring only, is recommend. For more information see Care and Maintenance of Japanese Maples.
Acer palmatum Ukigumo is one of the prettiest variegated maples and one of the favorites at the nursery. In September the entire maple turns pink before changing to crimson red. Estimated height in 10 years is 8′ and a width nearly 5′. Ukigumo like other maples benefits from some pruning to shape the tree, as well as removing any dead branches. For more information seePruning Japanese Maples.
Acer palmatum Ukigumo is a must for a Japanese Maple collector with the perfect location. Why do I say ‘perfect’ because in order to get the color in the leaves [in this case white] sunlight is necessary to create the chlorophyll required for color in the leaves. Similarly, maples other than green leaf cultivars need sun and without sufficient sunlight the leaves turn greenish – known as greening-out. I repeatedly get calls and emails about the loss of color for their maples during the summer. Too much shade is my answer. You may have planted your maple when there wasn’t much shade, but as other trees grow, sometimes you get more shade than you want. Once established this cultivar is hardy to USDA zone 6.
If you love Japanese Maples as much as I do, you can learn more about these amazing trees by joining the Facebook Group – Japanese Maples and Conifers.I also recommend you join the Maple Society North American Branch both are free to join – you just have to be a Facebook member. The contributors to the groups have a wealth of experience and post many photos.
Limited Availability – 1 gallon Ukigumo maples are available for shipping. I like to wait until the leaves are out to make sure your maple has white variegation. You may pre-order and I will hold until the right time to ship.
The first photo shows my Ukigumo in front of a giant red lace leaf. I like the color contrast and this location gets sun to 2:00 pm during the summer. The other photos show summer variegation – white with pink new growth. Another photos shows late summer when the leaves begin to turn pink before turning crimson red in the fall.