Gardening 101: Japanese Red Maples

NORTH TEXAS ( – For a smallish tree to grow in the shade, there are few plants that can match a Japanese Red Maple. 

They grow slowly but have stunning forms and beautiful leaves. 

For many years, it was not even considered a tree you could grow here. Our hot summers limit the use of these species, they absolutely need to stay out of the afternoon sun though some can handle the morning sun, in fact, need it for the classic red color.

For years I’ve heard from my various plant experts about Metro Maples as a must-visit if you are considering a Japanese Maple. 

After visiting there for the first time for this story, I totally agree. The place is just incredible. It is not a place you will likely ever drive by. 

It is in a remote corner of the southeast corner of Tarrant County on a two-lane road. The six acres they operate out of are completely under shade from oak trees. 

There are maples on the property that are nearly 25 years old. It is worth the drive just to see some of those. 

At the top of the property is a koi pond, well water is fed through an RO filter and put into the pond. The pond water is used to irrigate the tree stock. Brilliant.

Scott Hubble is the second owner of Metro Maples started in the 90s. They have worked for decades on breeding maples that can still thrive in our heat. They have been selling two of their breeds, Red Emperor and Fireglow Red as the go-to tree for our area. Both require some morning sun and afternoon shade. The fiery red color will fade in the heat but return in the fall.

For a full shade plant, Scott recommended a Viridis. 

There is one on the property that is just a stunning plant, perhaps one of the prettiest trees I’ve ever seen. I bought a close cousin called Emerald Green and planted it in front of my kitchen window, in full shade. I paid $45 for it, it was about 2 feet tall and already branched out a little. I thought it was a great deal.

Scott is an expert on these plants, and so are his small group of co-workers. If you are considering one of these trees, I would absolutely visit this place first. Ask lots of questions, you’ll learn everything you need to know on how to grow these trees with success.

Jeff Ray is the senior First Alert Meteorologist at CBS News Texas and an avid gardener. When not covering the weather, he is finding stories about Gardening in north Texas. If you would like Jeff to come talk to your group about how changing weather patterns are changing the way we garden in this area, please email him at [email protected].