How to Grow and Care for Inaba Shidare Japanese Maple

Inaba Shidare Japanese Maple with Fall Foliage

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

The Inaba Shidare Japanese maple is known for its dissected leaves and compact, cascading form. In fact, all Japanese maple trees of the dissectum variety are easily identified by their palmate leaves (7-lobed and 6 inches long, in this case) with deeply-cut margins. This is a small tree, essentially functioning as a shrub, as does the similar 'Crimson Queen' (Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Crimson Queen').

In addition to its lacey leaves, its foliage color furnishes landscaping interest for three seasons of the year: It begins dark purple in spring, turns purplish-red in summer, and morphs to a bright red in fall. Rounding out its claim to providing four-season interest, its weeping habit will attract attention even in winter.

Inaba Shidare Japanese maple is best planted in the late fall or the early spring. Learn how to grow and care for this valued specimen.

Botanical Name  Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Inaba Shidare,' Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Inaba-shidare'
Common Name  Inaba Shidare Japanese maple
Family  Sapindaceae (soapberry)
Plant Type  Deciduous shrub or small tree
Mature Size  Up to 12 feet tall and 15 feet wide
Sun Exposure  Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type  Evenly moist, fertile, well-drained
Soil pH  Slightly acidic
Hardiness Zones  5 to 9 (USDA)
Native Area  Species plant is native to Japan

Inaba Shidare Japanese Maple Care

Apply 3 inches of mulch around the base of your Inaba Shidare Japanese maple to retain moisture in the soil and keep the roots moist. Mulch will also keep the weeds down. Other than that, especially if you do not intend to prune it, the tree can be considered low-maintenance. But be extra sure to water it during droughts.

Crimson colored leaves on an Inaba Shidare Japanese Maple

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Closeup of fall foliage on an Inaba Shidare Japanese Maple

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Inaba Shidare Japanese maple tree with thin trunk and twisted branches with palmate leaves

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Inaba Shidare Japanese maple tree with thin palmate leaves on branches

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Inaba Shidare Japanese maple tree with thin curving branches

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Inaba Shidare Japanese maple tree with curving branch closeup

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Inaba Shidare Japanese maple tree branch with thin palmate leaves closeup

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Inaba Shidare Japanese maple tree branch with green and copper-colored palmate leaves

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault


At the cooler end of its range, give Inaba Shidare Japanese maple full sun. The further south you are, the more it can profit from afternoon shade.


Plant Inaba Shidare Japanese maple tree in a rich soil that is well drained. To boost soil fertility, compost is an excellent choice, because it also helps out with soil structure, drainage, and moisture retention.


Provide your tree with an evenly moist soil. The soil in its root zone should never dry out completely. But neither should you irrigate so much that the ground becomes waterlogged.

Temperature and Humidity

Inaba Shidare Japanese maple is cold-hardy enough (zone 5) to live in all but the coldest portions of the United States. It can survive the heat and humidity of a southern summer only down to zone 9, which excludes areas such as southern Florida. Given its preference for an evenly moist soil, it is not recommended for regions with extreme heat and low humidity, such as southern Arizona.


Since Inaba Shidare Japanese maple likes a slightly acidic soil pH, fertilize it annually in early spring with a fertilizer meant for acid-loving plants.

Types of Japanese Maple Trees

In addition to weeping specimens such as 'Inaba Shidare' and 'Crimson Queen,' there are many types of Japanese maple trees. They come in different heights, with differently shaped leaves, and in different colors. Examples include:

  • 'Bloodgood' (Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'): 'Bloodgood' grows up to 20 feet tall, with red leaves and non-dissected foliage.
  • Golden Full Moon (Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'): This tree grows up to 20 feet tall, with non-dissected leaves that come with 9 to 13 lobes. It has lime-to-chartreuse-tinged golden leaves and turns orange and red in fall.
  • Acer palmatum 'Harriet Waldman': This type grows up to 15 feet tall. It has non-dissected leaves and the foliage is variegated, with new leaves starting out pink but eventually turning three colors (pink, white, and green).


People with small yards may wish to keep their Inaba Shidare Japanese maple smaller than the maximum size for as long as they can. Luckily, the tree does not mind pruning, so you can keep it compact by pruning as needed in late winter while the plant is still dormant. If, however, you have no space constraints and want your specimen to get as big as possible so that it will show up better from the street, it is also perfectly all right not to prune Inaba Shidare Japanese maple.

Propagating Inaba Shidare Japanese Maple

You can propagate Inaba Shidare Japanese maple via cuttings:

  1. The best time for the job is in late spring. This gives the new growth that the tree is producing enough time to harden up a bit, yet it is still early enough that this growth isn't too hard.
  2. Fill a 6-inch pot that has drainage holes in the bottom with potting soil, and make a 4-inch-deep hole in the center using a pencil.
  3. Sterilize your pruners with rubbing alcohol. Choose a branch tip that has three leaf nodes and cut it off below the lowest node. The cutting should be about 6 inches long.
  4. Keep the leaves at the tip of the branch but remove any others that may be on your cutting. 
  5. Dip the bottom end of the cutting in rooting hormone.
  6. Stick the cutting into the hole. Make sure the bottom leaf node is down about an inch into the hole. Tamp the soil down gently.
  7. Create a "tent" over the pot with a plastic bag to retain humidity.
  8. Place the pot in bright, indirect light.
  9. Open the tent to mist the plant with water from a spray bottle twice a day. This will also ventilate the cutting. Keep the potting soil moderately moist, but don't let it get soggy.
  10. The roots of your new Inaba Shidare Japanese maple should be established by next year. Once all danger of frost has passed, transplant it directly into the ground.

How to Grow Inaba Shidare From Seed

Propagation can also be achieved by seeding:

  1. Inaba Shidare Japanese maple seeds ripen in fall; harvest them when they turn brown.
  2. Remove the samaras—the dry fruit surrounded by papery wings—attached to the seeds.
  3. Store the seeds in a bag in a cool, dry place until February.
  4. In February, pour the seeds into a container filled with warm water to soak them. Leave them soaking for 24 hours.
  5. Drain off the water, and move the seeds into a plastic bag filled with a sand/potting soil mix. Mist this medium so that it is evenly moist but not soggy. Make holes in the bag to provide circulation.
  6. Put the bag in the refrigerator for 100 days. 
  7. Sow the seeds outdoors after all danger of frost has passed in a fertile, well-drained planting bed. Cover the seeds with 3/8 inch of soil and water them. Whenever the soil is about to dry out completely, water again.


As long as you do not live north of zone 5, you should not have to take any special steps to winterize Inaba Shidare Japanese maple. But if you are afraid the tree is not cold-hardy where you live, spread 3 inches of mulch across the root zone once the tree stops actively growing in late fall to provide insulation against winter's cold.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

The tree is susceptible to both insect pests and diseases which are more often damaging to young, immature trees.

The most common pest is the Japanese beetle which can defoliate a young tree in a short amount of time. Other pests to watch for are scale, mites, borers and aphids. Aphids also carry plant diseases and leave behind a substance called honeydew which can lead to sooty mold on the leaves. Mites and aphids can sometimes be knocked down with a strong spray from a garden hose. Beetles, borers and scale will likely require treatment with organic or synthetic pesticides. Borers leave behind small mounds of sawdust where they enter the branch. Smaller branches can be pruned out to prevent further damage. Dormant oil applied in the late fall or early spring can also help reduce pest populations.

Diseases affecting Inaba Shidare are verticillium wilt and psuedomonas blight. Wilt begins with the leaves and can move down into branches turning them black. Prune back to well below the blackened branches and avoid overwatering which exacerbates this soil borne disease. If the tree succumbs to verticillium wilt, do not plant another Japanese maple in its place. Psuedonomas is an airborne bacteria which can spread during moist soggy conditions. It also causes dieback but can be controlled with a copper based fungicide. Avoid causing any residual water to splash up on the leaves.

A healthy plant is the best method for reducing problems caused by pests and disease. Keep a close eye on young trees since early intervention will increase chances for recovery.

Common Problems for Inaba Shidare

Most common problems are easily avoided by practicing sound garden hygiene, such as properly disposing of diseased plants, raking up leaves that build up around plants, and promoting good air circulation by spacing plants correctly and pruning when needed. Water in the morning to give the tree plenty of time to dry before nighttime temperatures drop and always water at ground level.

Leaf Spot

The namesake spots of leaf spot disease come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. But they're usually dark (or light with a darker margin) and rounded or irregular in shape. Luckily, they break out on the surface side of the leaf, so they are easily detected. This fungal disease is rarely fatal, but it inhibits photosynthesis, weakening your tree and making it more susceptible to other diseases.

Sunburn and Windburn

If you live in an area with hot, bright sunlight most of the day, or your property is subject to windy conditions, plant your Inaba Shidare in a protected area where it will receive some shade.

Discolored Leaves

If the colors on your Japanese maple are disappointing your tree may be getting too much fertilizer or not enough sunlight. Choose a location with the right amount of light before you plant or cut back on fertilization.

  • Does Inaba Shidare Japanese maple have good fall color?

    Yes. The bright red color of its leaves in autumn is a primary selling point.

  • Is this tree rabbit-resistant?

    Yes. Rabbit pests tend to leave the tree alone.

  • How big does Inaba Shidare Japanese maple get?

    This small tree may eventually become 12 feet tall x 15 feet wide, but it remains shorter for several years.

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