Japanese maples are a type of tree that is native to East Asia and known for their brilliant fall color. These trees are typically seen in urban areas and parks, but they can also be grown at home. There are hundreds of Japanese maple varieties available that come in various sizes with a large assortment of leaf sizes and colors.
While these trees are considered fussy, when they are planted in a favorable location, their care is not difficult. They are slow growing, so you will need to be patient.
Overview Of Japanese Maples
Size: These trees can grow anywhere from 10-25 feet tall depending on the variety. There are also bonsai and dwarf varieties.
Foliage Color: Japanese maples are known for their extraordinary fall foliage colors. The colors include greens, oranges, purples, reds, and yellows, as well as variegated varieties.
Exposure: Providing your tree with the right amount of light can be tricky. Too much light can potentially damage the dainty leaves. Too little light can make colorful varieties have a greenish tone, and you also will not be able to enjoy the dazzling fall colors of reds and purples. For optimal color, most maples need filtered sun to partial shade.
Zones: Japanese maples do best in hardiness zones 5-7. They can be grown in higher hardiness zones, but the southern heat can cause a problem. The health of the tree will not be affected the problem will be the leaf color. The purple or red-leaved varieties will turn green in the summer. Grow them in a shady location to protect them from the heat. If you are in zone 4 you can grow them but pay attention to the tree variety or grow them in a container.
Types: There are hundreds of different varieties and cultivars of Japanese maple trees. They come in many different sizes, colors, shapes, and leaf textures.
Growth Rate: Japanese maples grow at a slow to a modest rate of about 1 to 2 feet per year. The growth rate is faster when the tree is younger, and it slows down as the plant reaches maturity. When they are planted in a location under ideal conditions their growth rate will be amplified.
Planting Japanese Maples
Best time to plant: The best time to plant Japanese maples is in the fall. This is because they need a dormant period before they can grow.
Location: Make sure the location where your tree is planted is protected from strong winds and spring frosts.
Soil: Japanese maples flourish in slightly acidic soil. These trees prefer moist well-draining soil. Loamy and sandy soil will work for these trees but avoid highly alkaline soil.
Container planting: Using a container is great for a small tree or dwarf varieties. These trees will stunt themselves meaning the top growth will decrease if their roots are restricted.
Care Of Japanese Maples
Water: Right after planting make sure you water the plant and continue to water it regularly. To keep the moisture level of the soil you can mulch around the plant. Until the plant is established make sure the plant is water when the soil feels dry, especially if you have not had much rain.
Fertilizer: Do not fertilize a newly planted Japanese maple. You can feed it in the late winter or early spring of its second year. If your tree has healthy foliage and is planted in rich soil with organic matter, the tree will not need annual fertilization. If you need to fertilize your plant, do it in the spring. Use a slow-release granular shrub or tree fertilizer and use half the recommended rate for landscaped trees. Do not use a liquid fertilizer as it can burn the tree’s roots.
Pruning: Generally, these trees do not require regular pruning as they develop their own genuine pretty shape. If you want to prune only cut the lower branches and remove any branches that might have crossed. This can improve the appearance of the tree. You can also remove any dead, diseased, or damaged limbs. The best time for pruning is July or August so the sap won’t ooze from the branches.
If you have a Japanese maple, let us know which one you have and how you care for it.