Perfect Match-Crimson Queen Maple and Sunpower Hosta

Arguably the most beautiful of trees, the threadleaf weeping Japanese maple, when properly pruned and sited is the jewel of any garden. Often planted as a focal point to a home’s entrance by professional landscapers, it is beloved by all who gaze upon it. Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’ is one of the most common cultivars available. Two of these are growing in the back gardens of the Fairegarden at present. One of them is gracefully anchoring the steeply sloping corner by the lower deck, where she can be viewed at all times from within the house through the glass sliders.

If left unpruned, as many choose to do for various reasons, fear of making a mistake being a prime motivator for doing nothing, Crimson Queen will grow into an unwieldy red blob, with the ravishing branching totally hidden by the waterfall of foliage. And that’s okay, but it is not the way of it here.

Most deciduous shrubs and small trees are, at the very least, limbed up here, the lower branches removed, so that plants can thrive in the filtered shade beneath to give added interest year around and provide more room for a hopeless plant collector to stash their prize plants. The reddish leaves cry out for golden hues as an accessory. The hardy, drought tolerant Hosta ‘Sunpower’ has proven to be the perfect accompaniment in the extremely dry environs of the Daylily Hill where this Japanese maple was planted in 2000.

The largest deciduous tree on our property, a multi-trunk silver maple casts ever more shade each year on the Daylily Hill and is greedy with the available moisture, as well. Starting out with three Hosta ‘Sunpower’, divisions taken from another section of garden, seeing how well they flourished, more were added.

The combination has proven wildly successful, with the hostas keeping weeds to a minimum. Crimson Queen is pruned up high enough to allow for the hosta flower stalks to be seen in mid summer, although they are quickly cut down when the flowers fade. It is the foliage that is the star of this perfect match, not flowers.

Bulbs are planted amongst the crowns of the hostas, with Muscari ssp. being the predominant bloomer. Hyacinthus ‘Gypsy Queen’ have not done well, but the plan is to try something else under there this fall that will show up more and thrive. The earliest yellow daffodils that came with the house are planted between the ring of Stipa tenuissima that borders the outer slope.

Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’ begins each new year leafing out in a brilliant rouge colored cloak that slowly becomes more dull as the growing season progresses. As the days shorten in fall, the leaves become even more spectacular with the chlorophyll giving way to the true hues. Even the fading faire Hosta ‘Sunpower’ leaves go out with a blaze of glory.

There are other Japanese maple cultivar and hosta combinations that might be equally as lovely as these, but for our situation, this is a perfect match.

Other Perfect Matches:

Perfect Match-Heavy Metal and Summer Wine

Perfect Match-Echinacea and Rudbeckia


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26 Responses to Perfect Match-Crimson Queen Maple and Sunpower Hosta

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    A handsome pairing for sure. I am one of those people that are hopelessly pruning deficient. I tend to let things go but seeing your little tree all pruned up so nice makes me want to get my Felcos out and do some pruning.

    Thanks Lisa. I prune nearly everything here, but especially the Japanese maples get the make that cut treatment. It was the landscaper who had made the beautiful gardens in our first house in TN, already done when we bought the house, who told me not to be afraid to cut those trees. We learned by doing. Good luck if you decide to make some cuts of your own!

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  4. gail says:

    It is a lovely combination…I have three little Japanese maples but none as charming as your beautifully pruned ‘Crimson Queen’. xoxogail

    Thanks Gail. The little maples acquire more character with age, just like humans!

  5. Oh how I wish I could grow a Japanese Maple in my garden! But thank you for the beautiful pictures!

    Thanks Stacey. We are lucky to be able to grow these little ornamental maples, I love them so.

  6. With some great Olympic performances still lingering in my memory, I am motivated to award a gold medal to this awesome pairing. Do you do any supplementary watering of this area ? If not, those Sunpower hosta are beyond amazing and positively heroic!

    Thanks Michaele. Once the hostas were settled in after the initial planting and subsequent dividing a couple of times, this dry hill gets no extra water. Some years the hostas are burned around the edges, but I just glaze my eyes over that. The maple is not nearly so red in summer, but the shape is still beautiful. Other varieties of maples hold the red color better, like the Garnet that I have by the pond, but Crimson Queen is still a beauty.

  7. I am inspired to do more assertive pruning on my shrubs and small trees,

    Yes, to more assertive pruning!

  8. You certainly have some wonderful maples.

    Thanks Green Bench. They give me much pleasure, and I do enjoy pruning them, too.

  9. I have often thought of getting a Japanese Maple, but it would have to be quite small to fit in my full garden. I want too many plants and not enough room! It is certainly a beauty in the fall with the color of the hosta.


    Thanks for visiting, Eileen. There are different sizes of Japanese maples, and of course they can be kept small with pruning, like the one on the daylily hill. This is one tree I would always make room for, where they can be grown.

  10. Dee A. Nash says:

    I don’t have ‘Sun Power.’ Thanks for the tip. I love the Japanese maples for sure. Your grass is so nice under yours too. I have Japanese blood grass under one of mine, and I love it. Hugs.

    Hi Dee, thanks. The maple actually give a little more shade here than the Stipa likes. I have had to move the grass out farther to get more light. I also keep this tree smaller than the others so it doesn’t block the daylily show. I bet you blood grass is lovely. Hugs back to you!

  11. Frances,
    Your pairing of the red maple and yellow hosta is inspiring! Thanks for your beautiful photos in various seasons too. I have a Japanese maple that is now about 40 years old and I have to prune by going in underneath it to get at the branches. I still love to prune it. It has numerous limbs that I have left weave into and out of one another. About 10 years ago we put a green thread-leafed darling in the front yard, and again, it is a joy to prune and decide what to show and what to take away. Thanks for your story. I shall try some hosta beneath them.

    Thanks Shenandoah. I love the green viridis maple so much. We had one in a container for several years and the shape and fall color was magnificent. It died when I planted it in the ground, sadly, from the hard freeze/extreme drought here in 2007. I should get another one. Pruning from underneath is what I do, too.

  12. That final photo is just breathtaking. I appreciate your combination suggestions and encouragement to prune. I am always so nervous about doing something irrevocabIy wrong. I have Sun Power but Francee is overwhelming her where she is. Think I will move her somewhere where she has more room to shine and multiply. When would be the best time for that, Frances?

    Thanks so much, Georgia. I am so glad to hear you have Sunpower, it is one fine hosta! I have moved hostas in every month of the year, but when it is rainy is a good time. Fall is probably best since the foliage is starting to look ratty anyway. I always do dividing when moving, for more of a mass planting. Do some pruning, too!

  13. Robin Ripley says:

    Wow! Gorgeous view up the hill, Frances.

    Thanks Robin. It is a nice view, what I see from inside the addition while sitting in the lazyboy. I wanted it to be pretty.

  14. I like that combination — a lot. I may have to copy that. I have ‘Garnet’ which is very similar to ‘Crimson Queen’. I also love the Muscari lining the stone steps. What a nice accent. Copy copy copy. 🙂

    Copy away, Janet. I love Garnet, have one over by the pond and think the color is much better than Crimson Queen. CQ is easier to find, and it is here, growing well. But if I had it to do over and had a Garnet…

  15. My Kids Mom says:

    We just decided this weekend that our lantana have outgrown their spot and are crowding the japanese maple (Garnet). Time for them to be moved I suppose. The maple needs to be the star. I hadn’t put much under it altho I have some purple heart and lambs ear nearby. I’ll consider putting hostas there. I wonder if I could sneak them past the slugs who generally go after them.

    Hi Jill, thanks for adding in here. If you decide you want to prune your maple, take some of the lower limbs off to let in more light and rain to be able to grow more things underneath it. Slugs can be a problem in moist areas, but this dry slope is anything but moist!

  16. Your maples are so beautiful, they don’t tend to do too well here it’s too hot in summer and the leaves burn, it doesn’t really get cold enough to bring out the beautiful colouring of the leaves, you also have a lovely garden.

    Thanks Karen. These maples and the hostas need a temperate climate with distinct seasons and some chill hours of winter to do best.

  17. Texan says:

    Just beautiful…hosta are tough to grow here in Texas. I have one in a old coal bucket I have managed to keep alive for several years. I keep it in total shade. Even so when we start hitting 108 the leave edges will turn brown from the heat. Your gardens are truly amazing.

    Thanks Texan. I took these maples and many hostas with us in the move from Tennessee to Houston, among many other things. It was too hot for them, so I dug them back up, put them into pots and brought them back to our present house back in Tennessee, where they are growing happily. Our plants also get fried leaves when it is 108, as it was this year. But new foliage regrows when it cools back down to the 90s.

  18. Rose says:

    A beautiful combination! I really enjoyed seeing the changes through the seasons–the Japanese maple is a lovely focal point, no matter the time of year.

    Thanks Rose. It is pretty on that hill every day of the year. In winter, the shape of the limbs of the maple is especially nice, with a dusting of snow, it is superb!

  19. Boy – that sunpower hosts has some powerful color! And it’s gorgeous against the rich maple! My 1 maple (they’re a little hard to grow here in the heat) isn’t as red as I’d like it to be – but it’s alive and I know I’m lucky to have it! Yours are all gorgeous.

    Thanks Diana. You are lucky to have the maple, I could not grow them at all in Houston, although 2 of the ones here were purchased there. I could not grow hostas there at all. Sunpower can take more heat and sun than most, but still gets crispy on the edges. I just ignore that, it still looks pretty from the long view where I usually see it from.

  20. Linda says:

    Thank you……..One of my favorite posts, yet……..You are pushing my color buttons! NO ARGUMENT…..the MOST beautiful tree! (like liquid lace in amethyst and scarlett) And this hosta……..reaching up with citron palms..wide open!!! I could easily sit near by, and contemplate this for days…….(and heal, at the same time….. )
    ❤ Thank you, Francis

    Thanks Linda, I do hope you are healing, from the garden or wherever. The first time I ever saw a dissected leaf Japanese maple, it was Crimson Queen, it was love at first sight. I never knew there were such trees with the color, form and branching beauty as these have. Serene.

  21. Wow! The colour combinations are amazing! I like how you set each flowering entity against a backdrop or lush foliage that just enhances the beauty of the plants! Way to go!

    Thanks! Crimson Queen makes everybody around her look good. Sunpower is a bright gold all season. They make a good match.

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  24. Diana Studer says:

    your garden is as glorious as ever. A crowning achievement, for the rest of us to aspire to , one day, when our garden is grown up. We are in limbo, for sale and waiting

    Thanks Diana, for those kind words. Good luck on your move! I may be doing so in a couple of years when my husband retires, as well.

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