Japanese Maple Care
Acer palmatum (Japanese maples) are remarkably versatile and adaptable trees. They thrive in most soil and climatic conditions and are located in many parts of the world. Care and attention at planting time is key to a healthy Japanese maple. They grow well in locations with sunlight and little exposure to wind.
Looking after a Japanese maple is surprisingly easy. Some care and attention at planting time will result in a low maintenance tree for years to come—Japanese maples can live for up to 150 years!
This page will help you with the planting, positioning, watering & feeding, pruning, and container growing requirements of your Japanese maple.
Japanese maples have a shallow, fibrous root system—they source moisture and nutrients from close to the surface. Be sure to apply a mulch around the tree to help retain moisture.
Plant in a hole that is only slightly bigger than the plants root ball, and no deeper than the existing soil level in the pot. Also plant with the root collar level with or slightly above the ground surface.
In poor soil, plant with organic materials to enhance soil condition and aid water retention.
Planting site must be reasonably well-drained to avoid water-logging.
Japanese maples will thrive if they are planted in a location where they get sunlight during the day, a small amount of shade in the afternoon, and are sheltered from the wind.
Trees planted in total shade will not develop deep, rich colours in the foliage—exposure to sunlight is required.
Limit competition for moisture from other plants (including grass) for a minimum of two years after initial planting.
Watering & Feeding
Smaller Japanese maples do not have any special watering needs, particularly if you have mulched around the tree. If watering is needed, the key is to apply regular, constant amounts in small doses. For larger specimen trees, seek advice from your nursery.
Over-watering can kill a Japanese maple.
Apply water around the tree, as opposed to on the leaves, in order to prevent scorching.
Japanese maples in the UK do not require significant amounts of nutrients or feeding—if the soil is generally fertile for most garden plants then maples will do well with little or no extra attention.
Top-shaping and pruning of Japanese maples should be started early in the tree’s life and should be considered each year thereafter.
Major pruning should be done in the dormant season after all leaves have fallen off.
Corrective pruning can be done at any time of the year except between late winter and early spring when the tree is devoting all of its energy into the development of new foliage.
Many Japanese maples are well suited to growing in containers.
It is important the tree is planted in a mix that drains well to prevent waterlogging of the roots.
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