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The Japanese Maple Care Guide

Japanese maple care guide - Japanese maple leaves

The Japanese maple is a versatile, hearty tree native to Japan. Their vivid colors make them your landscape's star when autumn arrives.

Crimson King Japanese Maple

Location

The Japanese maple isn't revered for its good looks alone - it's a hearty tree that requires minimal maintenance once planted. Finding the right spot to plant your maple will likely be the most difficult task.

Young Japanese maples are sensitive to extreme sun and heat so a shady spot is ideal. Too much shade will limit its range of foliage color, however, so a mix of both is ideal. You'll want to give your maple an opportunity to show its colors during the autumn months. Avoid planting amongst other shrubs, trees and structures that could "mute" the blazing color display. A stand-alone spot near the center of your property is perfect.

Finally, your maple will thrive in soil that drains well. Soil pH levels shouldn't be a major concern.

Japanese Maple leaves

Planting

Prepare a 3 foot wide area by clearing all grass, weeds, rocks and vegetation. Add a generous amount of organic material, such as manure, to the area and using a rake, blend with existing soil.

When ready, dig a hole twice the diameter and no deeper than the depth of the pot. Planting deeper than its current growing depth will add unnecessary stress. Tapping the side, slide the pot away from the roots. Place the root-ball into the hole and make sure the plant is straight and upright. 

Replace the soil until approximately half of the root ball is still exposed. If wrapped in burlap, cut the material and remove as much as possible. Soak the location with plenty of water, allowing the soil to settle. Once drained, replace the balance of the soil, stopping when the root ball is below 1” of soil. Finish by adding a 3” thick layer of organic material over the entire area. Make an effort to prevent the organic material from touching the stem. 

Japanese maple fall foliage

Care

Japanese maples are easy to care for. Make sure they have enough water during the summer, especially during the first few years. Taper watering beginning late summer to enhance fall foliage colors. If pruning is necessary, do so in late winter before leaf buds begin to open. Apply fresh mulch each spring to keep the location moist, but make an effort to prevent mulch from touching the trunk.

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