Japanese maple trees are one of the most popular choices for gardeners looking for ornamental trees because of their stunning colors and many varieties. They’re surprisingly easy to grow as long as you follow these tips.
As you’d expect, the Japanese maple tree comes from Japan, where it grows in forests and is revered for its striking appearance, especially in autumn when the leaves turn yellow, gold, orange, or red. In the US, these trees are suited best to USDA zones 5-9.
Japanese maples range from three feet to thirty feet in height, with the smaller varieties doing well in pots and even as part of a flower bed. The smaller root systems of the dwarf varieties are more compact, so they’re quite happy in a container. Some varieties, like the Bloodgood, will eventually outgrow their pots and so will need to be transplanted.
Growing Japanese maples in pots
- Choose dwarf varieties like red dragon, Pixie or Butterfly.
- Choose the right pot – it should be large enough for the rootball to fit comfortable and to allow water to drain away. Avoid ceramic pots, which can crack in cold weather.
- Use a well-draining potting soil – Japanese maples do well in slightly acidic soils with plenty of organic matter – and they like to be just a little on the dry side.
- Plant the tree to the depth it was in at the nursery and don’t use a lot of mulch around the trunk.
- Check the water content of the soil by pushing in a finger for two inches. If the soil feels wet, you don’t need to water more. If it’s dry or just slightly damp, add a small amount of water.
- Japanese maple trees in containers can be fertilized once a week through spring to midsummer with a diluted solution. At the end of July, stop fertilizing it so it can prepare for winter.
Growing Japanese maples in the ground
- Planted Japanese maples should only be fertilized in spring with a low-nitrogen solution.
- Take care not to over-water – nothing is more deadly to this tree than soggy roots and waterlogged soil. You can easily kill with kindness.
- If your maples are part of your landscaping, you don’t need to water them – rainfall is enough, although in dry spells a weekly drink shouldn’t hurt.
- When you do water your trees, aim at the roots, not the leaves. If any water drops are left on the leaves and the sun shines on them, the light is magnified and intensified, potentially leading to scorch marks.
Wherever you are and whatever you’re growing you Japanese maples in, they shouldn’t be placed too close to a building or a pavement because you may well have to move it after a few years when its roots outgrow the space.
You should also avoid planting a Japanese maple in the full sun, especially if you’re in a warmer part of the world, as hot sun scorches the leaves and this leads to a tatty appearance by the end of the summer.
When you are thinking of growing any type of tree, look into hiring a tree surgeon, they are essential for your tree to be grown properly. Check out some tree surgeons in Ipswich.
[Image: Takashi .M]