If you’re planting a Japanese Maple for the first time, plant near the beginning of fall. Ideally, you’ll plant it about a month before the ground begins to freeze. This gives it time to grow and spread its root system out. Place about 3 inches of mulch around the tree and remember to water it well during the winter.
Japanese Maples don’t always need an annual pruning, but if you do give it one, it’s best in the late summer or early autumn. You’ll get the best results at this time of year. But again, it may not be necessary. Inspect the tree during this season, and only prune if there are too many branches, crossed branches, or any other issues.
Keep the Japanese Maple happy by planting it in well-drained and consistently moist soil. If not, you run the risk of exposing it to fungus and other diseases. You could also add compost to the soil before planting so the tree gets as much nutrients as possible.
There are actually quite a variety of sun/shade combinations that Japanese Maples can grow in. That being said, they thrive best in partially shady spots. Full sun can scorch the leaves, but not enough sun can decrease how beautiful the foliage becomes. Plant it somewhere it gets some nice relaxing afternoon or evening shade.
One of the downfalls of Japanese Maples is the sensitivity of their foliage. The leaves can easily fall off if exposed to too much wind. Because the leaves are a key component of the tree, make sure it’s planted somewhere with wind protection. You don’t want a barren tree all year long!