Summer heat and draught problems:
Mulch your trees with 2 1/2 – 3″ of shredded bark, preferably hardwood, to insulate the roots and prevent water from evaporating around the tree.
Water deeply twice a week; water more often if it is a newly planted tree or a container-grown tree.
Leaf tip burn is unsightly, but not a cause for panic. It is most often a result of too much water, too little water, an underdeveloped root system (as a newly planted tree would have), or too much fertilizer, especially if a salt based fertilizer is being used. Afternoon shade and good watering practices help, but in some conditions you may have to live with it for the rest of the season. Under extremely stressful conditions your maple may drop all its leaves. Do not despair. Maples have a secondary set of leaves waiting for just such a time. The tree is protecting itself and telling you it is not getting enough water.
When your tree is feeling stressed do not try to fertilize it into feeling better. Do not fertilize it at all. Fertilizer is a stimulant and your sick tree does not need a stimulant. Instead, feed it kelp meal or something similarly rich in trace elements. Also, if your tree is stressed, be on the lookout for other problems such as insects or disease to which it will be more susceptible at this time. Catch these problems early so you can deal with them immediately and prevent a spiral of decline.
Fall is a time of great opportunities:
Pruning for form is best done in late summer or early fall. Good form is largely a question of personal taste. We like to let air and light into the center of the tree so that we can see the tracings of branch structure. Working up from the base and from inside to out, clean out small twigs growing along the trunk and major branches, dead wood, and crossed and rubbing branches. Stand back and look carefully at your tree’s shape. If it is not pleasing, look for what you need to remove to improve its form. Before making each cut, study where the branch goes and visualize the tree without it. Cut just above a live bud or just in front of the collar (the small ridge where a branch attaches to another).
Planting in the fall can be very rewarding. Try to plant at least 4 to 6 weeks before the ground freezes. The roots get a chance to establish themselves, and, come spring, the tree will be ready to put on new growth. If there is no rain be sure to water until the ground freezes and in the early spring.
Mulching is always a good idea for fall; it will help insulate the roots for winter and protect their early spring growth.
Winter care of your Japanese Maples:
Make sure your trees are well watered in the late fall and up till the time when the ground freezes. Mulch with about 3″ of shredded hard bark, keeping it a few inches away from the trunk to allow air to circulate.
After severe winters many people find branches snapped out of their dissectums. To help prevent this, try not to let branch tips freeze to the ground; when they do they lose the capacity to move and give and the burden of heavy snow on the top center can cause branches to crack or even break. It is a good idea to remove snow accumulation from the treetops as soon as possible. At the same time, be cautious of a coat of ice while you are removing the snow. Do not try to remove the ice as well. If there is ice on the branches, the branches themselves are frozen. Tampering with them at this point can result in whole branches breaking, the tips snapping off and the bark being badly damaged. To minimize the burden of winter hazards, remove dead leaves that cling to the ends of branches before snow or ice come and do not plant where snow or ice will slide off a rooftop and land on the crown of the tree.
Japanese Maples are extremely vulnerable in spring. They leaf out of winter dormancy with the first warm weather. ‘Katsura’ and ‘Ueno yama’ are among the first. Tender new growth is then at the mercy of a late spring frost. If your tree is young and small enough, protect it from these frosts by covering it. It is the frost more than the cold that is the danger; a good wind can save the day.
Damp, hot springs can be equally dangerous due to the fungal problems they bring such as Botrytis, Pseudomonas and Fusarium. Good air circulation, soil drainage and sanitation practices all help prevent these problems.
- Care of Japanese Maples
- Congratulations on your Japanese Maple!
- Planting Japanese Maples
- Container Growing Japanese Maples
- Watering Japanese Maples
- Fertilizing Japanese Maples
- Pruning Japanese Maples
- Stressed Japanese Maple
- Transplanting A Japanese Maple
- How To Take Care Of A Japanese Maple (Acer) Growing In A Container
- Japanese maples are easy if placed in the right position
- How to save an ailing coral bark maple
- Japanese Maple Care – Learn How To Grow A Japanese Maple Tree
- How to Grow a Japanese Maple Tree
- Japanese Maple Care
- Where to See Thousands of Japanese Maple Trees in Georgia
- A few Japanese maples for Southern Gardens
- Tips for Growing Japanese Maples
Care of Japanese Maples
Congratulations on your Japanese Maple!
We are excited that part of our family can now be part of your family! You now have a living plant to take care of. Here are some instructions on what to do.
1. Take the plant(s) out of the box and remove completly any plastic bags around pots.
2. Give your plants a thorough watering as they have been in shipment.
3. If the trees are in leaf, we recommend placing them in the shade until you are ready to plant them.
4. Remember that Japanese maples are not indoor plants. They will do much better outdoors.
If you are in a colder zone than us and plants in your area are still dormant, plants you receive from us may not be dormant. It is up to you determine when it is safe to planted or placed outside in your area. We are happy to hold them here at the nursery if you contact us ahead of time, otherwise it is your responsibility to take care of them once the tree ships out from our nursery.
** Remember to give them water frequently in the containers and allow them to dry out. Our nursery potting soil will typically dry out faster than many other potted plants you may have. It is best to check the soil with your finger to determine if the plant has dried out enough to water again. **
Planting Japanese Maples
Location is something that should be considered. Nearly all Japanese maples can handle growing in the shade or getting morning sun and afternoon shade. For planting trees in the sun it is important to make sure you are getting a selection that can handle full sun in your area. We have plenty of Japanese maples that grow and do well in full sun in Zone 8. When you get to zone 9, many of the Japanese maples should be planted with protection from the hot afternoon sun. There are a few maples we carry that can handle full sun in zone 9.
One of the most important things to remember is that Japanese maples do not like wet feet. This means that heavily boggy areas will need raised beds that allow drainage for the Japanese maple roots. This can simply be done by raising the area where you will be planting the Japanese maple with more soil.
The hole should be dug 1.5 times bigger than than container the Japanese maple is in. This extra size is primarily to losen the soil for the roots of your Japanese maple which will allow for it to get established quicker. Take the Japanese maple out of the container and place it in the hole. The main thing to remember when planting a Japanese maple is that it should be planted level with where the soil level was in the container. This is important as Japanese maples planted too deeply do not perform well in the landscape. This means that you will have to put part of the soil that you already dug back into the hole before planting.
People often ask where or not they should condition their soil for the Japanese maple. For the most part, you shouldn’t. Japanese maples can do well in both sandy soils and clay soils. When you amend the soil they have to get established in your amendments and then get established in the exterior soil.
Container Growing Japanese Maples
Japanese maples have a non-invasive root system that makes them ideal for container growing and bonsai culture. This will allow you to bring the ornamental appeal of Japanese maple to your deck, patio, poolside, and driveway expanding your garden. The concept of how big a Japanese maple will get in a container is similar to that of how big a goldfish will get inside a bowl. A Japanese maple will grow the size container it is put in. A small container will dwarf the size of the tree from the size the tree would naturally be in the landscape. Dwarf Japanese maples are often used in containers because they get fairly close to full-size in most containers. The best tip for container growing is a well-drained pot.
1. Choose your Japanese maple based on the location you plan on growing your container grown maple (ex. Sun or shade?).
2. Select the container you would like to use. The primary thing to look for is good drainage. You may be able to drill extra holes in non-ceramic containers. At least one drain hole is necessary. For containers with only one drain hole, you may consider lining the bottom of the container with 1-2 inches of medium sized gravel to increase drainage.
3. Soil should be selected based on how frequently you plan on watering the plant. For Japanese maples that will be regularly watered by an irrigation system, a soil with more perlite is ideal. An example of this would be a regular bag of miracle grow mix. For maples that will not be on a regular irrigation system, make sure to add more peat moss to the mixture. This will allow for the maple itself to retain a higher amount of moisture. When adding the soil to the container make sure to keep the root collar and trunk of the Maple at the same level it was in it’s previous container. It is also good to leave at least 1/2 inch to 2 inches of the top lip of the container free from soil. This allows for the maple to be watered effectively.
4. Select a companion plant such as small sedums that can cover the soil-surface to reduce heat and moisture loss for the roots of the maple. When choosing a companion plant it is essential to use only plants with extremely shallow and tiny root systems that will not grow into the roots of the maple.
5. Water frequently based on the finger test. If the soil around your Japanese maple feels dry, water.
6. For small containers (smaller than a nursery 3 gallon) check the root system of your Japanese maple during the winter every 3 years. If the root ball is getting very thick, trim the root system leaving 3/4 of the root system. Add soil as necessary. For larger containers, you can go much longer without root pruning the roots of your Japanese maple. We suggest checking every 7-8 years. For those that do not want to root prune, you can always upgrade your Japanese maple to a larger pot size or put the tree in the landscape, however, with a few minutes of root pruning every few years a Japanese maple can stay in any pot for its entire life.
Watering Japanese Maples
Japanese maples are easy to water. The key is that Japanese maples like good drainage, but also like regular amounts of water. The key when planting is to not to over water your tree. It is best to water your Japanese maple, then allow that to dry out. Once you give the soil around your Japanese maple the finger test and realize that it has dried out, then it is time to water again. Watering times in different soils in different environmental conditions may vary, It is best to figure out what works best for your tree.
Fertilizing Japanese Maples
Japanese maples are extremely easy to care for. The less you do the better. Japanese maples do not like a lot of nitrogen so fertilizers are not necessary. When purchasing fertilizer, there are 3 numbers N-P-K. The first number, N, is the nitrogen amount. You want to make sure this number is 15 or under. We do not recommend fertilizing with fish emulsion. Fertilizers with low amounts of nitrogen can be used in the early spring, however it is not necessary. All fertilizing should be stopped by June 1st.
Pruning Japanese Maples
Trimming your Japanese maple can actually make your tree grow faster. If you trim the smaller branches back leaving larger and thicker branching with buds, your tree will often grow very quickly. This is because you get a cleaner flow or nutrients from Japanese maples that have been trimmed. It is like excersing your Japanese maples. It is best to do this in the early spring right before your Japanese maple leafs out. This is typically around the late February to early March time period for us in North Carolina. The main trick for trimming is to never trim more than 45% of your tree off. Yes, that means you can trim a Japanese maple heavily. Remember to clean your pruning tools with rubbing alcohol. This helps keep your pruning tools sanitized which helps your Japanese maple stay healthy.
Steps for Pruning:
1. Start out by pruning out branches you don’t like on your Japanese maple. If the branch is larger than 3/4 of an inch in diameter we recommend using a saw. Large branches you don’t like only get bigger so it is best to prune them out early in the tree’s life.
2. Prune out the twiggier smaller branching. Smaller branching only makes smaller branching. This means these will make the tree grow slower. By pruning your Japanese maple and leaving the large branching you will get a larger tree quicker.
3. Trim out conflicting branching on your Japanese maple. This means if two limbs are touching are are too close, one of them should be trimmed out. A lot of pruning is judgement calls. Picking which one stays and which one goes will be a judgement call that only the owner or the pruner can make.
4. If you are trimming an upright selection, make sure to keep one branch as a central leader. This is typically the tallest part of the tree on most upright Japanese maples. If you are trimming a dwarf or a laceleaf Japanese maple, you can trim the Japanese maple to accentuate the natural shape of the tree. This can be done with laceleaf types by trimming your Japanese maple to create different levels of branching.
5. Trim out the fishtails. When there are three small branches coming out of the terminal buds on the end of a branch, it is often good to trim out the middle branch. This gives room for the other two branches and allows them have more energy.
While trimming is not necessary, if you follow these steps, your Japanese maple should grow much quicker for you.
Stressed Japanese Maple
*Japanese maples that have been stressed should be given Super Thrive at recommended doses from the bottle. This can often be purchased at Wal-Mart or your local garden center or department store. This simply gives Japanese maples the proper nutrients and hormones that will help it heal and recover and help it get back into a growing mode.
Transplanting A Japanese Maple
Transplanting a Japanese maple is when you are digging up a tree out of the ground in your yard and moving it to another location. This is not moving a tree from a container to the ground, but removing it from the ground and planting the tree in another location (container or the ground).
When doing this, timing is essential. When the tree is in a dormant state without any leaves is the best time to move a Japanese maple. When transplanting a Japanese maple during this time of the season, you have a very high success rate. When digging a Japanese maple up out of your yard when the leaves are still on it, you typically have a very slow success rate. We do not recommend digging trees up in your yard when they have leaves on them.
After a tree has been moved it is best to give it fertilizer that includes Vitamin B or Kelp. This will help produce feeder roots that may have been damaged during the transplant.
How To Take Care Of A Japanese Maple (Acer) Growing In A Container
Japanese maples are easy if placed in the right position
Plant the Acer in a loam based ericaceous compost, which drains well. Place a piece of crock over the hole in the bottom of the pot to prevent it silting up resulting in the plant sitting in cold wet compost in winter.
Place the plant out of the wind and out of the direct sun, it can stand the early morning and late afternoon sun, but midday sun will burn its leaves.
Make sure the pot is only a little larger than the pot it is bought in, a large pot will hold too much water in winter.
Keep it damp in summer; don’t let it dry out otherwise the edges of the leaves will turn brown.
As they are fairly slow growing they don’t need any pruning, just take out any dead or diseased branches. If you prune to keep in shape they often put on a spurt of growth, sending out long branches.
Feed in spring with a controlled-release ericaceous fertiliser.
Only re-pot when the pot is full of root and then only go up into a slightly larger pot.
For more information on growing trees click the link to read the blog articles: ‘How to grow Japanese Maples’, ‘How to make the most of autumn leaves’ and ‘Best tips for planting and caring for trees’.
How to save an ailing coral bark maple
Credit: iStock / Gingwa
Q: Could you tell me what is wrong with my maple? Toward the end of summer the leaves on some of the branches dried up and turned brown, there is also black areas on a few of the branches. The tree has been growing quite well; it has been in the ground for about four years. There is also an irrigation system, so it does get watered regularly. I am writing to you from Nanaimo, B.C. —Ingrid
“Bacterial blight” (Pseudomonas) is common on “coral bark maple” (Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’). Symptoms could include dead buds that fail to open in spring; new shoots wilt and turn black in the spring and early summer; and one-year-old or current-year shoots turn black. Most maples are susceptible, especially Japanese maple cultivars ‘Sango Kaku’ and ‘Oshio Beni’. Infections occurs during cool, wet weather in spring and fall.
To control the problem, prune out diseased tissue during dry weather (January or February) or mid-summer to clean green tissue. Sterilize tools between cuts with 10 percent Lysol (1 part Lysol to 9 parts water). Provide optimum growing conditions (nutrition, drainage and soil pH), thereby preventing stress to the plant. Avoid fertilizing tree after July to prevent susceptible new growth in the fall. Copper spray could be used as a fall application; user 5 grams (level teaspoon) per litre of water prior to leaf drop and again after leaf drop. I only recommend copper spray as a last resource since it could damage the plant depending on weather conditions. Copper-resistant strains of Pseudomonas have been reported.
Japanese Maple Care – Learn How To Grow A Japanese Maple Tree
With so many different sizes, colors and leaf shapes, it’s hard to describe a typical Japanese maple, but without exception, these attractive trees with their refined growth habit are an asset to the home landscape. Japanese maples are noted for their lacy, finely-cut leaves, brilliant fall color, and delicate structure. Continue reading to learn more about how to grow a Japanese maple tree.
Most horticulturalists refer to cultivars of Acer palmatum as Japanese maples, but a few also include A. japonicum cultivars. While A. palmatum is hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 6 through 8, A. japonicum extends the growing area into zone 5. This variety is also sturdier in appearance and bears reddish-purple flowers in spring.
Growing Japanese maples make excellent specimen or lawn trees. Smaller cultivars are the perfect size for shrub borders and large patio containers. Use upright types as understory trees in woodland gardens. Plant them where you need to add fine texture in the garden.
How to Grow a Japanese Maple Tree
When you are growing Japanese maples, the trees need a location with full sun or partial shade, but planting a Japanese maple in full sun may result in scorched leaf margins on young trees in summer, especially in hot climates. You’ll see less scorching as the tree ages. In addition, growing Japanese maples in a location with more exposure to bright sunlight leads to more intense fall color.
The trees grow well in almost any type of soil as long as it is well-drained.
Japanese Maple Care
Japanese maple care is easy. Caring for Japanese maples in summer is mainly a matter of providing enough water to prevent stress. Water the tree deeply in the absence of rain. Apply the water to the root zone slowly so that the soil can absorb as much water as possible. Stop when the water begins to run off. Cut back on the amount of water in late summer to intensify the fall color.
Adding a 3-inch layer of mulch helps the soil retain moisture and inhibits the growth of weeds. Pull the mulch back a few inches from the trunk to prevent rot.
Any heavy pruning should be performed in late winter before the leaf buds begin to open. Cut out scraggly interior twigs and branches but leave the structural branches as they are. You can make small, corrective cuts any time of year.
With such easy care and beauty, nothing is more rewarding than planting a Japanese maple in the landscape.
Where to See Thousands of Japanese Maple Trees in Georgia
Fall is in full swing, and Japanese maples are the stars of the garden. With their ever-changing beauty, Japanese maples have captured the hearts of gardeners and poets for hundreds of years. These ornamental trees offer four seasons of beauty in the landscape. Crimson new growth in spring, followed by bright green leaves (certain cultivars have red leaves) in summer and a spectacular display in autumn of brilliant foliage in shades of orange, red and yellow. In winter, striking silhouettes create living sculptures.
There are hundreds of cultivars of Japanese maples, each with its own distinct charm. Selections include those that are weeping, upright, dwarf and even miniature. Japanese maples make beautiful specimen trees in the landscape but will also grow happily in decorative pots. They are popular subjects for training as bonsai, a way of directing the growth of trees and shrubs through pruning to maintain them as miniature versions of their mature counterparts.
At Gibbs Gardens, there are more than 3,000 Japanese maples, including hundreds of varieties. Most are selections of Acer palmatum or Acer japonicum, planted throughout the 220 acres. Many are planted in the Japanese Gardens, sited next to ponds, where they create dramatic reflections.
Japanese maples make good companions when planted in combination with other shrubs, trees and perennials, including azaleas and flowering cherries. A colorful grouping for autumn includes the perennial Arkansas blue star, Amsonia hubrichtii (with foliage that turns golden in fall), Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ and conifers of various shades of green.
A few Japanese maples for Southern Gardens
Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ – Known as the Full Moon maple, this tree grows 20 to 30 feet tall and has dissected leaves that are deeply lobed. The leaves turn crimson in fall.
Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ – This small rounded tree grows 15 to 20 feet tall with leaves that are deep reddish-purple. Noted for its excellent red fall color.
Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’ – This small tree grows 10 to 12 feet tall and has delicate foliage that retains its crimson color throughout the growing season, turning bright scarlet in the fall.
Acer palmatum ‘Ryusen’ – This striking, weeping maple grows 20 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide. One of the last maples to exhibit fall color, it turns orange in November.
Acer palmatum ‘Sangu Kaku’ – Named for its coral colored bark, especially noticeable on new growth, this tree grows 20 to 25 feet tall. The leaves emerge yellow-green with reddish margins in the spring and are green all summer. In autumn, the foliage turns yellow-gold.
Tips for Growing Japanese Maples
1. Plant Japanese maples in full sun or part shade.
2. Water them during periods of drought.
3. Prune when trees are dormant in late fall to mid-winter.
4. Fertilize in spring before new leaves emerge.
To view Japanese maples in their fall splendor, visit Gibbs Gardens during Japanese Maples Colorfest in October and November. The Gardens are open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.