#ProPlantTips Japanese Maples: Care & Options

#ProPlantTips Japanese Maples: Care & Options

Dating back to the 7th century, Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum) have been a staple to outdoor interests. From their showy winter bark to their firework colored leaves, these trees will leave a lasting impression. 

There are many different species and hundreds of cultivars that are seen in gardens across the globe today. Each one displaying its own unique personality. We are sure a maple will speak to you, but if not check out the following famous varieties!

Varieties To Consider:

  • Bloodgood
  • Crimson Queen
  • Emperor
  • Tamukeyama

To join in on the historic fun of growing Japanese Maples, all you have to do is pick out your favorite-- or a few-- and provide the proper care! Don’t worry, this blog is here to help you be well on your way to adding a Japanese Maple to the landscape. 


Picking A Classic Japanese Maple Tree

As stated, each maple is unique. Normally, it is displayed through the leaves. For instance, the Emperor One Japanese Maple Tree is excellent as a front lawn focal point because of its rich plum and crimson red shades that grace multiple seasons. 

On the other hand, a Waterfall Japanese Maple displays a fiery gold fall foliage color that is slightly dipped in a deep red shade for added accent. Try out a row of them in front of a deep green pine tree!

You can even choose between small, low-growing trees for a shrub-like appearance by using a Tamukeyama Japanese Maple or a large, tree shaped maple like the Japanese Red Maple

Use the shorter growing maples for projects like creating a privacy screen, filling an empty garden area or creating a colorful yard bush. On the other hand, add tall Japanese Maples to areas that lack shade, need a heightened layer or need a patio addition. 

However, even the larger trees are still a relatively perfect size for small spaced gardens. That’s what makes Acer palmatums so great!

We can’t forget about the remarkable show that goes on underneath the leaves either. As we are sure you can guess from the name, the Coral Bark Japanese Maple takes extreme pride in its vibrant, coral bark that appears on young stems. For something truly different, it's a shoe-in!

Maybe you even want to grow one of the most famous maples in the world, the Bloodgood Japanese Maple Tree! Whatever your preference, Nature Hills has it. 

Shop Japanese Maples

How To Plant Your Japanese Maple

Find A Location

Site the tree in partial shade, or more sun in the cooler climates for best results. It’s equally important that the soil of which you will be planting in is well-draining. The tree will appreciate slightly acidic soils too. Most importantly, place it where you will be able to admire its beauty at all times during the year!


Dig A Hole

Measure the depth of the root ball and dig the hole just that deep, but twice as wide-- it should be slightly above the regular soil line. 


Remove Your Japanese Maple From Container

Now that you have a site picked out and a proper hole dug, go ahead and carefully remove the tree from the container it is placed within. Softly, tease the roots for new growth-- this could change the height of the root ball. 

We suggest placing the tree (without the container) back in the hole to double check the measurements. We promise the tree won’t fuss if you set it aside for a few minutes to fix the hole, but it will if you plant it too deep!


Backfill With The Same Soil Excavated From The Hole

Once you know the hole is the ideal size for the facilitated root ball, place the tree in and begin to backfill with the native soil you just dug up. This should only be filled up to the previous soil line. 



Last, completely saturate the soil at the roots with your hose running at half rate and no nozzle attached.  As the water soaks in you may need to adjust the plant and move some soil around the roots a bit. 

This method eliminates air pockets around the roots and completely rehydrates your plant. We would be thirsty too if we had traveled to your doorstep and then transplanted!


#ProPlantTips For Care

Ever look around your neighborhood and wonder why every yard has a Japanese Maple, but you never catch anyone actually out taking care of it? It’s because they are simple to grow! In fact, our gardening experts here at Nature Hills highly advise moderation when it comes to upkeep of a maple. 

As much as it saddens us to say, there is such a thing as over-loving your plants! So, every time you get a sudden urge to bestow additional attention on your maples, read this blog and think again. Also, be sure to follow the individual Plant Highlights closely for best results on each variety of maples. 

The number one rule when growing Japanese Maples is to deliver drainage; they absolutely must have it. A good way to do this is by planting in loose soil, avoiding planting too deep and by slightly raising their root ball. If you have more interest in reading about well-drained soil, read our insightful post here!

Japanese Maples love cool, moist soil but must be well drained.  Check the soil moisture at the roots with your finger frequently, and as your plant grows new roots and gets established in your landscape becomes less dependent on you.

The last thing you need is to stress your maple tree out by having parched or waterlogged roots! Read about the right way to water your plants here. 

If you are wanting to plant multiple cultivars, you’ll want to group similar trees together in terms of care requirements. This not only makes it easier on you, but also helps your trees grow.

Most maples grow in either full sun or partial shade; however, it’s good practice to read about your specific tree in order to provide optimal growing conditions. The chart below gives an estimate of hours of sun exposure!

The Japanese Maple is adaptable to many soil types too-- as long as there is good drainage, and the soil is mulched. Your new tree will thank you with beautiful colors year round. 

Our Nature Hills Root Booster is a great product to add at planting. Plus, be sure to maintain a nice 3-4 inch layer of wood chips over the root zone to keep your new plant stress free.


Pruning Tips

Because of their small stature, Japanese Maples do not require aggressive or even regular pruning. In fact, if pruning takes place, it is normally because of an individual’s personal aesthetic goal. 

Pruning Japanese Maples can be used to create some interesting character-like shapes you might see in a Bonsai plant! Or it's used to thin/direct the growth where you want it.

Many like leaving these plants’ lower-branches to take a shrub-like form, while others like to use them more like a tree. It's self-preference!

Refrain from completely head cutting the branches. This will help the tree maintain its organic structure and continue to grow for many years. 

However, the best part of Acer palmatum is that they don’t require pruning at all. They create their very own elegant shapes naturally!


Growing In Containers

Is there a patio, walkway or porch that needs a new plant addition? Japanese Maples work great in containers while delivering the same stunning appearance too! 

A 24-inch decorative container will be ample enough space for your tree and double check that it has drainage holes. Even in a container, your tree likes well-draining soil.

The potting soil mix should be slightly acidic. When creating it, look for the words “acid-loving” and “low pH.” Your plant will need a good water source as it will depend upon you for its success in a container.

Care tactics should remain the same for the Japanese Maple even though it is in a container instead, including sun exposure, watering, mulch and pruning.

To be a pro-container gardener, place your outdoor decorative pot on a wheeled caddy. Then, you can easily move it around when a desire for a new look to your patio or walkway hits in full swing!

With Japanese Maples, the fun never ends! Join us and several other gardeners in expertly growing these trees today. 

Happy gardening!

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