With its beautiful red-orange hues, the Japanese maple is a small unique tree that surprises and charms at the same time. From the first days of autumn, this deciduous perennial shrub brightens up the garden with its sumptuous colours. Also known by the Latin name Acer palmatum, Japanese maple can be grown in containers to enhance patios and balconies with its beautiful autumn shades.

Native to Asia (China, Japan, Korea), Japanese maple is a small tree that rarely exceeds 13 feet high. Popular for its colourful leaves and elegant bearing, this beautiful maple decorates Japanese gardens. Ideal for bonsai, smaller species such as Acer palmatum ‘Beni Tsukasa’ or Acer palmatum “Carminium” are much more suitable for apartments as they can be grown in pots. If you can grow your Japanese maple in the ground, be sure to put it near flower beds to properly showcase its beautiful fall colours. To vary the shades and shapes, you can plant your tree near colourful flowers such as azalea or rhododendron. Many species of Japanese maple are hardy, but to make them even more resistant, you must provide them with constant and regular care.

How should I plant a Japanese maple?

To successfully grow maple, you should first make sure that it is planted in a damp, cool and shady area. Indeed, these small trees do not like direct sunlight or excessive heat. Similarly, you should especially ensure that your maple is always sheltered from the wind and cold drafts. Since Japanese maple can often be very fragile, one should choose a well-protected area before putting it in the ground.

In regard to the land, make sure it is not calcareous and compact, as these two elements do not allow your seedling to thrive. So choose a rich, siliceous, fertile and well-drained soil. Also know that the palmate maple also likes acidic soils, such as heath soil.

To successfully grow your Acer palmatum, wait for the early fall to put it in the ground. To do this, simply dig a hole of only a few inches, knowing that the roots of the Japanese maple do not extend in depth. If you want to plant several trees at once, always remember to leave plenty of space between the seedlings so that none of them hinder the development of other seedlings while growing.

Regarding dwarf species destined for apartment use, you will be able to grow them in long, large enough containers that you willl obviously keep sheltered from the sun and wind. When selecting your containers, choose preferably those that allow the soil to be well drained. Finally, if you want to make cuttings, know that your Japanese maple can only be propagated by sowing, using seeds obtained in the fall.

What are the precautions to take when growing a Japanese Maple?

In terms of watering, it will be necessary to find a happy medium because the palmate maple does not like land that is too moist or too dry. Thus, excess water and drought are two factors particularly harmful to your tree’s development. If they lack water, your maple’s leaves will tend to shrivel up. In order to restore their vigour, the soil will need to be properly irrigated in order for the maple to absorb a maximum amount of water.

In winter it is advisable to preserve the tree from the devastating cold by means of suitable mulch. However, in any case, do not choose pine-based mulch, as it seems that it may greatly enhance the probability of severe diseases appearing.

With the approach of spring, consider trimming your tree to give it more strength and vigour. This delicate procedure can also be carried out in autumn, but in all cases, pruning should never be done in the summer. With regard to disease, also know that Acer palmatum is a rather hardy tree that does not attract pests and insects very often.

Finally, take particular care that the land on which your tree grows is always fresh, rich and fertile. Your Japanese maple will therefore be much brighter at the next blooming and it will dazzle you again with its wonderful bright colours.

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Published in Trees and shrubs by Alexander on 06 Jul 2011