How Do You Take Care Of A Japanese Maple To Grow Well?

How to take care of Japanese maple tree

With its year-round beauty, the Japanese maple tree makes a great addition to gardens, yards, patios and landscape designs. The elegance of this ornamental tree is largely due to its graceful, vibrantly hued foliage. Other than its unique appearance, this tree is also known to be a symbol of endurance, strength, longevity and balance.


If you are planning to add a Japanese maple tree to your garden or yard, you need to know how to take care of Japanese maple tree properly. Thankfully, this task is not really that hard. Keep reading to understand what it takes to make sure your Japanese maple stays strong and healthy.


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Japanese Maple Tree – How To Take Care for It and Grow Well?

Here is everything you need to know about how do you take care of a japanese maple?


1. When To Plant Japanese Maple?

The best time to plant a Japanese maple tree is probably fall. This will ensure that the roots of your tree establish easily as the rest of the tree is dormant for the season. But that’s what just some of the home gardeners believe.


Others are of the view that the tree can also be planted successfully during the spring season. Whatever you decide, just make sure there is no threat of frost. Frost can prove to be utterly damaging to your newly planted tree.


2. Can Japanese Maple Trees Be Planted In Full Sun?

Some Japanese maple varieties (especially young trees) cannot tolerate the full sun. Planting a Japanese maple in full sun in regions with hot and dry climates may not be a good idea as this tree is prone to leaf scorch.


Ideally, it should be grown in filtered sun to part shade or in areas that get direct sunlight for only part of the day. In warmer zones, this tree can even be planted in full shade.


Growing this tree in a spot which receives more exposure to bright sunlight may lead to more intense fall color.


3. Temperature

Generally speaking, this tree does well in regions where the average minimum temperature stays above -10 degrees F. however, some Japanese maple varieties can tolerate lower temperatures. Green leaf varieties of maples do well in a hot and dry climate.


4. How Often Do You Water A Japanese Maple Tree?

One of the most important steps in the process of how to take care of Japanese maple tree is ensuring that it gets adequate water. Not getting enough water in the summers and the absence of rain may end up stressing your Japanese maple.


But make sure not to water it excessively. Do not allow the root zone to be waterlogged or parched. Make sure to water the tree deeply by slowly watering the root zone. This way the soil will be able to absorb ample water.


In late summer, cut back on watering to intensify the fall color of the tree. Japanese maples need to be watered well at planting and regularly (but less frequently) after that. Once established, the tree can endure periodic dry spells.


5. Drainage

If you have a Japanese maple tree – how to take care of its drainage? Well, they prefer well moist but drained soil. Poor drainage and standing water can end up damaging your tree. Consider losing up the soil to ensure the tree is getting proper drainage. If the soil does not have proper drainage or is heavily clayey, make sure to plant your maple higher than its usual planting depth.


6. Japanese Maple Fertilizer

You can feed your Japanese maple tree with a nitrogen rich slow release fertilizer in the spring season. However, it is best to avoid adding fertilizers after May as this could affect the winter toughness and fall color of your tree. For newly planted trees, make sure to wait until the second growing season before fertilizing your Japanese maples.


7. Mulch

Since Japanese maples thrive in moist soil, mulching is an essential step in caring for your tree. Other than keeping the soil moist, it will also help curb the growth of weeds around the tree.


Surround your tree with about a 3-inch layer of mulch but make sure to keep it a few inches away from the trunk.


8. Japanese Maple Tree Pruning – Should You Trim A Japanese Maple?

Pruning of Japanese maples largely depends on the aesthetic goal of the grower since this tree does not need regular or heavy pruning. Get rid of diseased, damaged, or dead branches but do not disturb the structural branches.


It is okay to perform small, corrective pruning any time of the year. If you want your tree to have an airy look, thin out its branches over time. To give your tree’s canopy a shape, you can get rid of a few lower limbs. Pruning in late July is recommended if you want to reduce the size of the tree. For boosting maple growth and increasing the size, indulge in some spring pruning.


If you want to leave your tree as it is, that will work too as the tree will take its own naturally appealing shape in time.


9. Frost Protection

Protecting your tree from frost is another major step in the process of how to take care of Japanese maple tree. Maple trees are susceptible to damage caused by cold temperatures, especially the young ones. It is best to start preparing your tree for winter before the season’s first frost strikes.


You can protect your tree from frost by draping a blanket or a sheet over it. The sheet should touch the ground. This will enable it to trap heat close to the tree.


10. Propagating Maple

Now that you know a thing or two about how do you take care of a Japanese maple, let’s see how to propagate this amazing plant. Japanese maple trees are best propagated by grafting. Here is how you can grow a maple tree from a cutting

  • Cut 6 to 8 inches pieces of softwood branch (make sure it is about a quarter-inch in thickness). Maples don’t propagate too well from hardwood branches.
  • Now place the cuttings in a damp cloth and wrap them.
  • Now take a container (make sure there is a drainage hole at the bottom) and fill it up with half and half mixture of loam and Sphagnum (or peat moss).
  • Press a hole in the middle of the soil to place the cutting.
  • After some time, take the cutting out of the damp cloth. Scrape away at least half an inch of bark at the wider bottom part of the cutting.
  • Trim away all but 3 to 4 leaves on the top.
  • Now dip the scraped part of the cutting in root hormone powder.
  • Now insert this cutting in the hole in the soil. For best results, stick to just one cutting per container.
  • Wet thoroughly and hold down the rooting medium with some pressure around the cutting. This will help it to stand upright.
  • Now keep your container in an area with ample bright light. However, avoid keeping it under direct sunlight.
  • Make sure to mist the leaves and stem two times a day. Also, make sure that the rooting medium stays damp.
  • In 3 to 4 weeks, you will see that the roots have developed.
  • Let the plant remain in the container for a few months or until springtime.
  • Mid-spring is the best time for repotting your plant.
  • Your Japanese maple tree is ready to be planted into the ground or as a bonsai.


How To Take Care Of A Bloodgood Japanese Maple?

This purple-leafed Japanese maple looks stunning in every season. Wondering how do you take care of bloodhood maple? Thankfully, the answer is not a difficult one. Bloodgood maple has an average water requirement and does well in moist, organically rich and well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. With mulching, you can help maintain soil moisture and keep the root system cool.


The tree can be grown in full sun to partial shade; however, partial shade is recommended to avoid foliage scorch. The best time to prune your Bloodhood maple is the dormant season. If you are planning on feeding some fertilizers to your tree, do so in spring before the leaves emerge. The tree requires little pruning and can be growing as a specimen in gardens and yards.


Protect your tree from excessive sun exposure or lack of soil moisture as this may lead to leaf damage.


How To Take Care Of A Red Japanese Maple Tree?

This exotic Japanese maple variety is extremely popular among growers who love ornamental trees. The red Japanese maple is a hardy small tree or a multi-stemmed shrub with red or reddish-purple leaves and a fairly smooth bark.


This variety does well in dappled shade and slightly acidic, evenly moist but well drained soil. However, too much shade can affect the growth rate of the Japanese maple tree. When the tree is young, it may require some protection from strong winds and late spring frosts.


Although it has average watering requirements, make sure to water your tree more frequently during dry periods.


How To Care For Japanese Maple Trees In Pots?

Japanese maple trees can be used in bonsai or grown as traditional container plants. Plan on potting your maple tree in a container? Here are a few tips to help you out.

  • Make sure to choose the right size container. To give you an idea, the container should be twice as big as the root ball’s volume. Smaller pots may not allow the tree to go well while extra-large pots may make it susceptible to root rot (since the tree will likely be oversaturated owing to too much soil around its roots).
  • Make sure your container has sufficient drainage holes since Japanese maples prefer well-drained soil.
  • Grow your tree in a good quality potting or ericaceous compost. Adding a little sharp sand to it may help better drainage.
  • Don’t forget to add mulch to your plant to keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Keep the container in a spot where it is sheltered from strong winds.
  • Bright sun rays can hamper your tree. It is best to keep the container in a dappled shade. The light requirement of your maple also depends on its variety.
  • Re-pot your tree when its root reaches the side and/or bottom of the container.
  • Water your tree frequently during the first year. Once it is established, it will need less frequent watering. More watering is also important if the weather is hot and dry.
  • Prune your Japanese maple only if it is necessary. It is best to prune the tree during the dormant season.


Japanese Maple Tree – How To Take Care of Its Problems & Diseases

Although taking care of a maple tree is not that difficult, there are a few threats you need to look out for if you want your tree to remain healthy. Here are a few common Japanese maple problems you should know about.
1. Verticillium wilt: This fungal infection can lead to wilting and yellowing leaves, leaf loss, stunted leaf growth etc. There is no specific cure for this but with proper care, it is possible to revive the tree.
2. Root rot: This occurs due to poorly drained soil. Avoid overwatering your tree and make sure the soil is consistently moist but not wet.
3. Leaf scorch: Although Japanese maples can tolerate full sun, they are susceptible to leaf scorch. This problem can be treated by pruning away dead limbs, supplemental irrigation and mulching.
4. Pests: Protect your Japanese maple from pests like Japanese beetles, mealy bugs mites, aphids, borers and scales. In case you spot a pest infestation, act immediately and treat it with chemical or organic pesticides.


Other common Japanese maple problems include weed eater, stem cancer, anthracnose and leaf spots. However, with proper care, you can avoid these problems from doing any serious damage to your tree.
Related: How long does a maple live?


Facts And Questions

Q. How do you take care of a Japanese maple bush?

A. Looking after a Japanese maple bush includes providing it well-drained soil, adequate watering (especially in newly planted trees, dry season and lack of rain), protecting it from frost, pruning (if required) and protecting it from leaf scorch (due to excessive heat. Adding fertilizers may also help ensure healthy growth for your bush.


Being on the lookout for pests and diseases that may harm your plant is also a vital part of how to take care of Japanese maple tree bushes.


Q. Can Japanese maples tolerate strong winds?

A. Japanese maple trees have fragile branches that can be damaged by strong winds. Strong, drying winds can also dry out the leaves of the tree. While planting your Japanese maple, make sure to choose a location where it is protected from strong, dry winds.


Q. Are coffee grounds good for Japanese maples?

A. With so many Japanese maple trees – how to take care of their specific feeding habits.
Well, in addition to the fertilizers, you can sometimes use coffee grounds. Being rich in nitrogen, coffee grounds may prove to be good for the health and growth of your Japanese maple tree.


Q. Why is my Japanese maple leaves turning brown?

A. The most common reason why Japanese maple leaves turn brown is leaf-scorch caused by over-exposure to the sun.


Q. Does a Japanese maple stay red all year?

A. This depends on the maple variety. While some tend to stay red throughout the year, others may change color with the season.