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Japanese Maple Tree Lifespan: How Long Do Japanese Maples Live

The Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is known for its small, delicate leaves with pointy lobes that spread outward like fingers on a palm. These leaves turn fabulous shades of orange, red or purple in autumn. There are many interesting Japanese maple tree facts, including how long these trees live. The lifespan of Japanese maple trees mostly depends on care and environmental conditions. Read on to learn more.

Japanese Maple Tree Facts

In the United States, the Japanese maple is considered to be a small tree, typically growing from 5 to 25’ feet tall. They prefer rich, acidic, well-draining soil. They also like partly-shady settings and regular irrigation water. Drought is moderately tolerated but boggy soil is really bad for these trees. In Japan, these trees can grow to 50’ or more.

Japanese maples typically grow one foot per year for the first 50 years. They can live to be over one hundred years old.

How Long Do Japanese Maples Live?

The Japanese maple tree lifespan varies depending on luck and treatment. These trees can tolerate shade but hot, full sun can reportedly lessen their lifespan. The lifespan of Japanese maple trees is also negatively impacted by standing water, poor quality soil, drought, diseases (such as Verticillium wilt and anthracnose) and improper pruning and planting.

If you want to enhance the lifespan of Japanese maple trees, give them regular irrigation, provide an annual application of good quality compost, and install them in a location that provides partial shade and good drainage.

Japanese maples are highly susceptible to Verticillium wilt, which is a soil based disease. It causes wilting in leaves and kills branches progressively. Is my Japanese maple dying? If it has Verticillium wilt it is. The best you can do in this case is to nurture your Japanese maple with good soil, regular water and possible yearly injections to extend its life as long as possible. Test your soil for soil diseases before you plant a prized Japanese maple.

Japanese maples have a bad reputation for developing roots that kink and circle around the root crown and lower stem, eventually choking the tree of its own life. Improper installation is the primary cause. Kinked and circling roots will shorten the Japanese maple lifespan. Make sure the planting hole is twice as large as the root ball, and ensure the roots are spread outward in the planting hole.

Also, make sure the planting hole is scarified so the new roots can penetrate into the native soil and that there is some drip irrigation at the outer edge of the planting hole so the roots are encouraged to move outward.

If you want to increase your Japanese maple tree lifespan, do not cut the roots. The best way for aggressive wood decaying fungi to enter and kill a tree is through root injury. Large cuts or wounds on the trunk or large branches are also easy targets for wood rotting fungi. Shape your Japanese maple while it is young and growing so you can form it properly with small cuts. Choose a cultivar that fits the space in which it is planted so you don’t need to prune so often or at all.

The Japanese maple tree is native to Japan, Chinese, and Korea and there are about one thousand varieties of this plant of which three of these are largely cultivated.

The Japanese maple tree, Acer palmatum, derived its name from two Latin words Acer which mean “sharp” which is derived from the blades of the leaves and palmatum which means “hand-like” refers to the shape of the leaves which appears like the human palm.

The Japanese maple tree is a small deciduous tree which can either grow singly or as a group of trees and they are popular in the Japanese culture as they are also used for decoration purposes and can also be grown as bonsai.

In the Japanese culture, several stories surround the use of the leaves as fried foods and they are usually stored for a year before fried to give it more taste.

The Japanese maple trees’ leaves usually emerge in summer with green coloration and the color varies from red to purple to orange to yellow in autumn.

This tree is known for its beautiful color in autumn and they grow at the rate of 1 – 2 feet per year and they grow for the first 50 years of its lives and they can live more than a hundred year if grown in a favorable environment.

This tree is now appreciated all around the world and it was introduced to England in 1820 and they usually perform well under a cool environment.

In this article, we will take you through the various symbolism and meaning of the Japanese maple tree, so if you want to learn more about this tree or you need an answer in regards to this tree, this is the perfect place for you to be. Read on to learn more.

What is the Symbolism of the Japanese Maple Tree

The Japanese maple tree is a tree with a great history and stories associated with it as it was greatly appraised in the Chinese and Japanese cultures and around Asia.

There have been many symbols of this tree and some of them include beauty, great blessings, peace, serenity, magnificence, the arrival of autumn, and lots more.

This tree has also found its way to the art and craft of the Asians as well as the gardening and poetry practices of the people in that region.

In the following paragraphs, we will discuss more about the various symbolism of the Japanese maple tree so you should pay attention to each of them to learn more about this tree.

Symbol of Peace

The Japanese maple tree appears to adapt well in environments that are very cool and souls that have the optimum water level required for its survival.

There is a practice among the Japanese in which they visit the place where this tree grows in large amounts to have a view of its beautiful and attractive nature.

This tree can grow in any controlled environment, either in a bowl, plastic, or containers and this signifies it’s ability to grow without the need to have a large land when controlled or grown as bonsai.

The tree is a sign of your ability to maintain peace and harmony around the world and to also keep people happy at all times.

Symbol of Abundant blessings

The Japanese maple tree produces leaves, seeds, and fruits at the right time at the required point in their lives.

The leaves of this plant grow during summer and they appear greenish at first before changing color during autumn and it varies depending on the species of this tree, but they usually appear reddish.

The leaves develop till the end of autumn and it also produces fruits known as “samara” which is produced between the month of September and October and they produce them in large amounts which are in great amount and they can be used for different purposes.

This can be seen as a sign of a new development that is about to happen in your life in the nearest period of time.

Symbol of Serenity

The Japanese maple tree is a very significant tree in nature and it was popular among the Japanese, a result of its name.

In their culture, this tree was regarded or called “kito” which means “calm”, “rest”, or “at peace” in the Japanese language and this is a sign of the quiet and peaceful nature of this tree.

This tree is quite welcoming and wonderful and it possesses the ability to keep people happy whenever they see it in sight and it helps to keep the body calm and free from stress.

This tree is an important feature in gardens and they are sought after by people due to its spectacular appearance.

This tree is a sign that you need to try as much as possible to be the source of happiness for the people around you.

Learn to be a confidant that people can come to in times of trouble or in difficult situations that they get cut up in.

Symbol of Beauty

The Japanese maple tree develops horizontal branches and bright red/orange/yellow leaves in autumn and this appears quite beautiful and excellently.

This sight of this colorful plant attracts those who love this tree so much and it is of great relevance to those who love trees all over the world as they appear beautifully.

This tree is believed to possess pure elegance and a sense of tastefulness which makes those who are familiar with this tree fall so much in love with it in their surroundings, even the shrubs produce beautiful colors that are lovely.

This is a sign of our inner beauty and characteristics and it can be considered as a sign that you need to show those around you the beautiful and accommodating part in you.

You should know that you are a source of attraction to the world and you will be known by the seeds that you have sown to the world, choose to be a sign of love and affection.

Arrival of Autumn

The colorful leaves of this tree in autumn has given it a place in the heart of those who grow this plant.

In the Japanese culture, it was believed that the Japanese maple tree is to be planted in the garden to welcome the autumn season as a friend.

There is a ritual particular to the Japanese referred to as “momiki-gari” which means “maple hunting” and it involves visiting the wild, that is the natural environment of this plant, to have a look at the brilliance of the maple tree.

The first color produced by the maple tree is green, however, as soon as the autumn season kicks in the color of the plant’s leaves begin to change color and it can either turn yellow, red, or orange.

What is the meaning of the Japanese Maple Tree

The Japanese maple tree has different meanings in the lives of those who grow them either in gardens.

This tree has so many varieties around the world and they develop both the male and female flowers on a single tree, that is they are monoecious.

Below, we will discuss more about the various meanings of the Japanese maple tree so you should pay attention to each of them to know more about this plant.

Sign of Patience

For the Japanese maple tree to attain its full nature and beautiful structure, there has been a whole lot of patience associated with this.

The maple tree grows in most cases a foot in a year and to reach it’s required length or height it takes about 20 – 30 years.

This tree passes across a message to us as humans, it means that we need to be patient at all times, we do not need to hurry to reach that position that we want to attain in life and we should be careful and relaxed.

This is also a sign that to attain your full potential in life, you need to learn step by step and this will take a lot of patience and persistence.

Sign of Survival

Either you plant the Japanese maple tree as a seed or through vegetative means, all that matters is for it to grow.

This tree is popular with its association with areas with partial shade, that is, places where there is a little exposure to sunlight.

This tree possesses the ability to survive and they do this at all cost and they possess the ability to survive every challenge that are directed towards them.

You should know that you are a blessed individual and you will be able to survive every situation that comes your way.

Conclusion

The Japanese maple tree has a lot of history in different cultures and traditions around the world.

This tree can be seen as a symbol of peace, serenity, abundance, and beauty and they also have different meanings in the life of those who have it around them.

This tree portrays the fact that you need to be a source of light to the world and you must always keep your environment in a good and excellent state.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article !

Symbolism and Origin of the Maple Tree

Acer is the scientific name for the Maple tree. The name “Acer” comes from Latin ǎcěr which means “sharp”, making reference to the sharpen tips of its leaves (the leaves of most species are palmated). Maple species are found in the Northern Hemisphere. They are originally from Asia. There is a number of them also found in Europe, Northern Africa and North America. Maples trees grow from 30 to 145 feet. Some species from Mediterranean region and southern China are evergreen.

Maple is a symbol of strength and endurance. Some species of maple are planted as ornamental trees and most species are used in the art of bonsai. In Japan, it’s a custom in autumn to see the changing color of maple’s leaves – in a similar way as they do in spring when cherries blossom. The reddish maple leaf symbol of autumn. Depending on the species, its leaves may turn from green to yellow, orange or reddish tones.

The Maple tree in different cultures

Maple syrup was well known in the time of the native Americans, and it was an important part of their diet. The maple leaf is the national symbol in Canada, and it can be found in its flag and coins. In English-speaking countries, this tree was believed to repel demons and evil spirits. It was customary to have a piece of a maple tree in the main door. Furthermore, it is an important tree in the Celtic mythology. It was a tree consecrated to Dana, the Celtic goddess of fertility. It is also known as the tree of the tolerance. In China, maple is associated with honor, and its leaves are a motif in Japanese ukiyo-e paintings representing love and autumn.

Planting Instructions

Red Maple have a moderate dormancy within them which requires a small amount of time to break. They have high levels of germination, and are simple and easy to plant. There is nothing that compares with seeing them sprout up through the Bios Urn!

1. Prepare a substrate into which the seeds are to be mixed. Generally a 50/50 mixture of compost and vermiculite work well. The chosen substrate needs to be moist (but not wet!) Mix the seeds into the substrate, and spread them evenly throughout.

2. Place the seed mixture into a clear plastic bag (a zip lock bag will work), and loosely seal it. ​Write the date on the bag so that you know when the pre-treatment was started.

3. Place the bag into the fridge for 2-4 weeks. During this time, the seeds may start to germinate in the fridge! If they do, simply remove them from the bag and plant them on top of your Bios Urn.

4. When the period of pre-treatment has finished your seeds are all set to go! Place them on the Bios Urn, and no more than 1cm under the soil.

5. Follow the instructions on our website for planting your Bios Urn, and your germinated seeds.

Growth in the first year is usually between 10 and 40 cm!

Japanese maples are ideal as a four-season interest tree that fits well in a small-space garden. There are many varieties of Japanese maples with brilliantly colored leaves, architectural branching structure, and interesting shapes. With so many to choose from, you’re sure to be able to find one or two that would be a strong focal point in your garden. What’s even more fascinating is how they are propagated.

In my small urban garden, I have four Japanese maples. It’s probably one (or three) too many for such a small space but I’m at peace with my penchant for plant hoarding. Let’s not invite any of the other members of my family to weigh in on it though!

Japanese maples grow perfectly in my Vancouver, BC garden. They do well in zones 5 through 8 and like a temperate climate without deep winter freeze or blistering summer sun.

A Japanese maple may be a fair-weather friend, but for those who have the right conditions, you’ll get months of beauty from one small tree.

Japanese maples are beauties all year long with their attractive branch structure in the winter, little helicopter seeds and flowers in the spring, gorgeous full maple leaves in the summer, and brilliant neon-bright color in the fall.

When it comes to small trees, Japanese maples really are the king.

Sponsored Content: this post is sponsored by Monrovia who has generously offered up a giveaway for one of our readers! Be sure to check out the end of this post to see how you can get your hands on a Japanese maple for your garden. All opinions in this post are my own.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Monrovia Nursery in Dayton, Oregon and see how Japanese maples are grown. Monrovia has some absolutely stunning varieties of Japanese maples; just browsing through the pages on their website might even make you tear up when you see the weeping Japanese maples.

Head over to Monrovia’s blog to read a fantastic article on how to select the right Japanese maple for your garden.

During my trip, I got to see two demonstrations from Monrovia Craftspeople on Japanese maples: propagating and pruning.

Propagating Japanese Maples

The Japanese maples Monrovia grows are all grafted on the same rootstock. This means that, no matter what the branches and leaves look like in the end, they all started off with the same seed, Acer palmatum. The rootstock is grown from seed and once they are large enough, different varieties of maple branches will be grafted onto them. This video describes the process of starting the rootstock from seed.

When the saplings are old enough, they are fused with a branch cutting from a different decorative Japanese maple.

Grafting is both an art and a science. It is done by slicing a notch in a tree branch and inserting another branch into the notch. The two are bound together until they fuse together and grow as one. If you have a Japanese maple at home, look to see where this grafting took place on the base of the trunk. There should be a “collar,” or ring, around the grafted branch.

It can be handy to know where a tree has been grafted because if a branch grows from below the collar it will have the characteristics of the original rootstock. I occasionally notice a rogue branch with leaves that are different from the rest of the tree on one of my Japanese maples. This is a result of the grafting process. The branch has some of the characteristics of the rootstock.

I took a little video of this so you can see the process. These guys go so quickly and they make this detailed work looks so easy.

Next, the little sapling with the graft is potted and grown for another few years at Monrovia. Japanese maples take very well to pruning and they are shaped regularly to keep them uniform as they grow large enough to be shipped to the garden centers.

Here’s another video, this time showing the shaping of a young Japanese maple.

Now that you know the story of how Japanese Maples are crafted and cared for, you surely want to adopt one (or several!) for your own garden. Read on for home care tips for Japanese maples.

Planting Japanese Maples at Home

Read the plant tag thoroughly to make sure you’re picking the right tree for your garden. If you want a smaller tree to be grown in a large container, choose a dwarf variety; if you want a small tree to perform as a shrub in your garden, look for a weeping variety; and if you want a decorative statement piece, look for a tall, colorful Japanese maple. Be sure to follow the planting instructions on the label that comes with your Japanese maple to ensure that it transitions well into your garden.

Once you know the right variety of maple for your garden, it’s time to pick out the right shape. Pull the plant away from its brothers and sisters and look at it from all angles. Make sure that the shape is attractive to you. A tree will grow into that exact shape as it gets larger. It could have some pruning to help direct the shape, but the best practice is to choose a tree that you like the shape of when young rather than trying to fix it as it grows older. Try to envision what this little tree will look like when it’s grown to full size.

Pruning Japanese Maples

If you picked out the right tree, you won’t need to do a lot of pruning. It should grow and fill in the space that you’ve provided for it without needing to be cut down for size. It should also have a gorgeous branching structure that’s natural and organic.

If you find that the Japanese maple is getting too dense then it’s best to go into the maple and thin out branches rather than head cutting the branches. The more you go in and remove branches as close to the trunk as possible and keep the organic structure, the more you will be able to see and enjoy the true beauty of a Japanese maple as it grows in your garden.

For more information on how and when to prune, please see these two articles:

  • Learn how to Prune like a Pro! Pruning 101
  • Want to Know WHEN to Prune? This will Answer all of Your Questions

Giveaway Time!

This contest is now closed. The winner was chosen using a random number generator, congratulations Lisa!

Gardening 101: Japanese Maple Trees

Both graceful and versatile, Japanese maple trees (Acer palmatum) are the chameleons of the plant world. Some leaf out in brilliant reds in spring, change to green by summer, and finish the fall in yellows and oranges. Others start red and stay red till their leaves drop in autumn, revealing their sculptural forms. Leaves can be palm-shaped or lacy, almost feathery, and their available color palette includes red, green, orange, purple, white, and pink.

William B. Shell of Auburn, Alabama, is an expert grower. He planted his first tree in 1967 and now has more than 1,000 in his yard. They’re his passion. “Japanese maples are an excellent choice for the beginning gardener, as they are essentially carefree once established,” he says. “They offer year-round interest with their ever-changing beauty.”

Select the Right Japanese Maple Tree
The “trees” range from 2 to 30 feet tall, and their forms can be weeping, rounded, dwarf, mounding, upright, or cascading. Which one’s for you? For containers or bonsai: dwarf and smaller selections. For a colorful grouping or a singular show: medium-size, rounded, mounding, or cascading forms. For one big wow: larger, treelike selections. FYI, many are grafted and may seem pricey, but they add value to your landscape and are smart investments. Also, don’t be afraid of trying unnamed seedlings, which can be less costly but are just as beautiful.

How to Plant Japanese Maple Trees
These trees can take full sun in the Upper and Middle South, but the rest of us should give them filtered sunlight. They need well-drained soil and protection from hot afternoon sun or strong winds. During extreme heat or drought, give them a little extra water. They make excellent companions for other plants in your yard. William likes to use evergreens such as azaleas and camellias to show off a maple’s delicate foliage. Perennials such as hostas and ferns can also accent maples’ leaves. Whatever you plant with them, Japanese maples will steal the show.

Japanese Maples Online

The replacement value of a tree is calculated by 2 factors.

  1. The cost of a replacement tree of comparable size.
  2. How important the tree was to the overall landscape.

In many cases a tree of comparable size cannot be found so a smaller tree must be purchased or used as guide to determine the cost for a larger tree. Putting a value to a replacement tree larger than what is available is determined by:

1. The actual cost of the largest tree of that variety or species available.
2. Determining the growing cost per year to grow a tree to the age of the tree being replaced.

Example: If a 5-year-old tree could be purchased for $250.00, then dividing $250.00 by 5 years = $50.00 per year to grow the tree.

Let’s say you have a tree that was 18 years old and it was hit by a vehicle. You would multiple $50.00 (the cost per year to grow the tree) by 18 (the age of the damaged tree) = $900.00 replacement tree cost.

Next figure the landscape value to the cost. Landscape value is very subjective. Japanese Maples and other specimen trees can be a major focal point and or play an important role in a landscape. If the landscape suffers because of the loss of the tree some monetary value can and should be associated. Actual monetary landscape value is completely subjective based on the landscape importance to the property and if there is a personal attachment to that plant or tree. For instance, I grew up with a Japanese Maple tree that was used as a backdrop to many of our family photos. I give that tree some attachment value, but you would need to provide proof showing the importance.

You may want to contact several different retail sources for an average tree cost in your area. Just ask for the price of the largest tree available of that variety and the age of the tree.

Also be sure to include the planting cost and cost to remove the existing tree if necessary.

Japanese Maple Trees

Rich, vibrant color from month to month.

There’s nothing like the iconic Japanese Maple Trees, from their colors and sizes to their one-of-a-kind leaf shape. Exotic good looks define this timeless variety, known for its blazing hues that last for months at a time.

You will get more than a splash of color with Japanese maples for multiple seasons. Some varieties have leaves that emerge green before turning shades of bright or dark red. Other Japanese Maples emerge from dormancy with dark shades of red that almost seem purple before turning green in the summer and bright red, yellow, or orange in the fall. The Coral Bark Japanese Maple even has a bright red trunk!

How Big Do Japanese Maple Trees Get?

Landscapers think outside of the box with Japanese Maples. That’s because they are available in a variety of shapes, including vase-like with multiple trunks like the Bloodgood Japanese Maple and weeping like the Viridis Japanese Maple. But no matter which variety (and size) you choose, you get a smaller silhouette that fits well into any space.

How to Plant Japanese Maple Trees

The planting process couldn’t be simpler. First, ensure that you’ve purchased Japanese Maple Trees that will thrive in your growing zone. Then, determine how much sunlight your variety needs – from full sun (6 to 8 hours of sunlight) to partial sun (4 to 6 hours of sunlight) and beyond.

From there, the actual planting process is easy. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate your tree’s root ball (with a bit of extra width for room to grow), place your tree, backfill the soil and water to settle. We also recommend mulching the area to conserve moisture.

How to Prune Japanese Maple Trees

Wait until the dormant winter season to prune your Japanese Maple Trees. At this point, you can remove diseased, dead or broken branches, suckers and any competing branches for best growth. Remember to make your cuts with a clean, sterilized pair of shears and cut at a 45-degree angle.

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