I would like to grow a Japanese maple in a container but live in northern Illinois, Chicago area. Is it possible to grow this tree in a container and have it survive the winter? What type of protection would be needed during winter months? If not, is there some type of ornamental tree/shrub that can be grown in a container in a northern climate?
You can grow a Japanese Maple in your zone, generally quite successfully in the ground.
Most Japanese Maple cultivators are hardy down to zone 5.
Yes, a Japanese Maple tree can be grown in a pot, but you need to keep in mind that the roots will be exposed to colder temperatures above ground vs in the ground.
A general rule is that the roots are exposed to 2-zones colder above the ground.
So if the tree is rated to zone 5, the roots are only rated to zone 7.
There are many different trees that can be grown in containers.
Some possible plants, Dwarf Korean Lilac, Hydrangea, Flowering Plum, Cherry Tree, and Conifers would make good choices.