The 10 commandments of Japanese maple care

Thou shalt take good care of the roots

Japanese maple trees possess shallow root systems, making them suitable for both pots and ground planting. Crucially, these roots require oxygen, discouraging the use of excessively heavy or waterlogged soil.

When potting, prioritize a well-draining mixture. Absolutely do not pot your maple in a large pot. You will be surprised how well they grow in small pots. We're here to assist you in this aspect.

In-ground planting benefits from slight elevations, preventing water from pooling around the tree. In clay soil, meticulous attention is warranted (reach out to us!).

Our planting approach involves creating a large hole, blending native soil with draining agents such as small rocks, fostering underground air pockets to sustain healthy root growth.

Tip: When you plant a tree, make sure the root flare is showing above ground. These are thick roots that move outwards from the stem. Don't expose them fully, just make sure they are level with the soil so that you can see their top.

Thou shalt choose the right location

Maples in a pot can be easily relocated to explore an ideal location, whereas those planted in the ground require meticulous planting.

Ensure you identify the optimal conditions for your maple variety. Some thrive in full sun, others prefer partial morning sun, and certain types flourish in shade. Generally, most acers thrive with morning sun exposure until around noon.

Thou shalt water wisely

Potted maples require periodic watering, but the optimal approach is to respond to your plant's needs rather than adhering to a fixed schedule. Regularly assess the pot's weight and moisture level – if it feels light, watering is likely due.

Conversely, maples planted in the ground typically require minimal watering. However, during the initial year of planting or during particularly hot and dry conditions, additional watering proves beneficial.

Thou shalt fertilize thoughtfully

Ground-planted maples generally do not need fertilization. Conversely, potted maples benefit from fertilization.

An ideal choice is a slow-release fertilizer with a nitrogen content of around 15%, represented by an NPK ratio like 15-9-12, designed to last 5 to 6 months. Application in early April sustains its effects until September.

This approach ensures a balanced growth rate, allowing trees to transition into dormancy naturally for optimal winter preparation.

Liquid or organic fertilizers are viable alternatives; exercise caution to prevent excessive nitrogen usage and late-season growth.

Thou shalt prune with purpose

Pruning your maple tree is not obligatory, yet we have observed substantial growth benefits from this practice.

Our recommendation involves pruning just before budding, typically in March or April. Although bleeding might occur, it remains purely cosmetic and does not pose harm to your tree. This strategic pruning stimulates growth and healing during a phase of heightened vitality.

Additionally, pruning can be tailored to enhance your tree's aesthetics. Should you wish to align with our approach, we warmly invite you to visit and explore the possibilities firsthand. Your preferences ultimately guide this artistic aspect of care.

Thou shalt mulch with care

Mulching stands as a consistently beneficial practice, enriching soil vitality and preserving moisture.

Our routine involves mulching all potted maples. Ground-planted maples equally benefit from mulching, but it's crucial to maintain a gap between the mulch and the bark to prevent contact. This safeguard ensures the health of the tree.

Additionally, exercise caution to prevent the growth of other plants or grass near the tree's base, preserving an optimal environment for its growth and well-being.

Thou shalt shield from harsh elements

Japanese maples are susceptible to adverse effects from strong winds, intense sunlight, and prolonged drought. Although varieties may exhibit varying degrees of tolerance, offering protective measures against these conditions is a prudent practice. Ensuring some degree of shielding helps promote the overall health and vigor of any maple tree.

Thou shalt monitor pests and diseases

Occasionally, your tree might face challenges from insects or fungal issues. Aphids and caterpillars are frequent culprits, treatable with standard products. Mildew, typical during hot summers, generally poses minimal harm to your trees.

However, more concerning infestations may involve spider mites, thrips, or severe fungal infections. For precise guidance on addressing these matters, feel free to reach out to us for tailored assistance. Your tree's well-being is our priority.

Thou shalt exercise patience

Japanese maples are slow growers. Some grow faster than others, but compared to typical native trees, they grow quite slow. Try to be patient with your tree. Don't force it and let it develop as naturally as possible.

Thou shalt respect its nature

Embrace the uniqueness of each Japanese maple. Letting them do their thing for many years will always result in a beautiful tree. You can help them along, but eventually, they need to do it on their own.