5 Tips for Growing Japanese Maples

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!

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The day before you plant, you should pre-water the hole. Soak the hole in water to get all the soil really moist and wet. You don’t want to make mud, though. Not only does this making planting easier, but it lets the roots expand into the ground easier as well.

When you go to plant your tree, make a small mound of top soil at the bottom of the hole. Place the bulk of the tree on this mound and then drape the roots down the side. This will give your roots even growth and keep it well nourished.

For areas that are prone to strong gusts of wind on a regular basis, you may want to counteract that when you first plant. Put the tree at a slight angle, facing into the direction the wind normally blows. That way, even if the wind does push your tree over, it will just go back to being straight! You could also use stakes if you want a more controlled solution.

If this is your first time planting a fruit tree, it can be hard to gauge how much space you’ll need. The best idea is to ask the local nursery, but if you forgot, then the general rule is at least eight feet apart. This varies depending on the tree, but eight feet usually lets the roots spread out without getting tangled in each other.

For yards that have mole and gopher problems, you may want to plant your tree in a basket of chicken wire. The roots will still be able to spread out, but it will help prevent pests from chewing up the bottom of your tree. Line the hole with the chicken wire and plant the tree like normal.

After your tree is in the ground and buried, you want to water it whenever the top two inches get dry. This is vital for new trees, but as time goes on, you can water less and less. The root system should grow and get the water it needs.

Let your tree grow for a while before you decide to get fertilizer or not. If the tree seems to be strong and healthy, don’t add fertilizer. It will just mess with your mojo. But if it seems to be struggling, get some nitrogen-rich fertilizer and add to the soil in early spring. If that doesn’t fix the problem, you may need to consult a professional.

Some fruit trees are self-pollinators while others need cross-pollination. Know which one you have. If you have self-pollinating trees like nectarines and peaches, you don’t need to worry about bringing pollinators into the yard. If you have cross-pollinators like apples and pears, you will want bees and butterflies to come to the garden. Plant flowers or make other plans to get them to come and pollinate for you.