Japanese Maples are a perennial favourite for their bright coloured leaves and elegant shapes. Maple leaves in the yard are like having stained glass outdoors and can create some of the most beautiful garden and patio looks (and I'm not just saying that because we're Canadian.)
With such a variety of colour, size, and shapes, there is a maple tree for every space! If you're a bit hesitant to jump into parenting one of these beauties, take a look at our helpful care tips and ideas below:
A Familiar Perennial
In a lot of ways, Japanese maple tree care is similar to most of your perennial plants in the garden or yard. Here are some of the basics:
- Always use well-draining, high-quality soil to make sure the roots can get the nutrients they need, whether that's in the garden or in a pot. Soil with good aeration that is also nutrient rich is the goal!
- Follow the light guidelines for your particular variety of maple, being especially careful not to plant them in full sun unless it specifically enjoys that much light and heat. Maple trees are prone to leaf scorching if their shade requirements aren't met.
- Make sure to give your maple enough water during the hot months of the year to prevent stress. This may mean watering twice a week during Summer. Let the water sink into the soil by using a low-pressure hose or irrigation system.
TLC for Your Japanese Maple
There are a few things that you need to keep in mind to meet your Japanese maple tree's specific care requirements and keep it happy and healthy. The best time to plant your new maple tree is in Spring or Fall. If you bring home a new Japanese maple tree in the Summer or Winter, just leave it in the grower's pot undercover until the season is over.
Planting your maple in Spring allows the roots to settle before the busy growing season begins. You don't want to disturb the new buds and leaves on your tree during the Summer and cause your new Maple undue stress or harm. Planting in the Winter can shock your tree's roots, as they aren't yet established enough in their new home before the ground freezes or frosts. Aim for Spring or Fall as the perfect planting seasons for Maple trees. Mulching your maple is a great idea! Add three inches of organic material, such as compost, seasoil or other mulch, around the base of the tree. This will stop weeds from growing and also help the soil to lock-in moisture.
Give your Maple a little bit of extra protection! These trees are happiest when kept out of windy areas and also shielded from heavy frost. This can be done by planting them behind or near one side of your home or a tall fence.
Pruning Your Japanese Maple Tree
Keep your maple looking sharp and clean with careful pruning each year. The best time to snip those branches is in late Winter before any leaf buds begin to open so that you don't hinder the Spring growth! Look for scraggly or oddly angled branches on the interior or exterior of the maple.
You can shape your maple tree by careful pruning, keeping it rounded in shape, or encouraging width versus height. As long as you make sure to leave the main structural branches of the tree alone, your tree will continue to thrive.
Planting Maples in Pots
Japanese maples look amazing in big pots on the patio or by the front door. The low, draping varieties especially suit this look! A few things to keep in mind when you are planting maples in pots include:
- Choose a pot that is a little bit on the big size, so that your maple can grow into it. The less you have to repot your Japanese maple, the better.
- When your maple tree needs repotting, don't procrastinate. Cramped roots will cause your tree stress and affect the leaves and growth. A stressed plant can attract unwanted pests or diseases
- If you want a very large maple tree, it's better to plant them directly in the garden. Plants in pots will not achieve the same height or size as a maple planted in the ground.