Is anyone growing these in zone 3, and if so which ones, and how are they doing? I would love to try one or 2, but seems that most cultivars are not suited for my cold country, so if anyone has a suggestion, or any ideas, or has some that they are having success with, I would love to know!
I know a few people in zone 4 who had trouble with keeping japanese maples switched to the new varieties of laceleaf, purple elderberry. It's a tall perennial that can look similar to a laceleaf JM, with the perk of having flowers and berries. No winter interest, though. They die down to ground level.
Otherwise, as wha said, indoors or containers are your best bet, if you don't want your JM to be an annual.
Zone 3 is likely too far north for JMs but there is no real substitute .. so doing containers like Bill says is best .. For zone 4 or maybe a micro climate in zone 3 you can plant Psuedosieboldianum ssp pseudosieboldianum, if you can find them, they are a Korean maple with a JM type leaf and outstanding fall color.. they may make it in zone 3 three but it's dicey but less so than any other jm
I think after you've seen the Grand Canyon ...your local state park does not do much ... on the same token if that's all you have seen then it seems great.. Substitute trees and plants just are wannabees they should be seen as there own cultivar and may be beautiful plants in themselves but not good substitute plants and not compared as substitutes IMHO .. but if it turns ya on go for it. IE surprise Lilly's are not a substitute for "real" Lilly's..Just give Bill Murry a golf club and let him have at em ;>)..Davidsan
The elderberries are totally NOT similar to JMs and David is right, it is best to just think of them as nice plants in their own right. It you have lost your heart to JM's, get the pots out! It is work but totally worth it.