9 How to Japanese Maples How to Plant, Care and Prune 2022

9 How to Japanese Maples How to Plant, Care and Prune 2022

Acer palmatum, commonly known as Japanese maple, palmate maple, or smooth Japanese maple, is a species of woody plant native to Japan, Korea, China, eastern Mongolia, and southeast Russia.

  • Species: A. palmatum
  • Lifespan: one hundred years old monrovia.com
  • Family: Sapindaceae
  • Genus: Acer
  • Order: Sapindales
  • Kingdom: Plantae

The Japanese Maple is one of the most popular plants. Its size, elegance, and rusticity, but above all, its webbed leaves attract a lot of attention. We do not know if it is because no plant in the West resembles it or because we are not used to seeing shrubs or small trees of this type, but the reality is that the Acer palmatum conquers the gardens of the whole world. Well, gardens and patios, since it can even be grown in a pot by tolerating pruning very well.

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For several centuries it has been worked as Bonsai, both in Japan and in China, from where this art arose, and with patience and perseverance, truly amazing works have been achieved. 

But what are the characteristics of Japanese Maple? And how do you take care of it? We will talk about all this and much more in this special.

Index

  • 1 Characteristic of Japanese Maple
  • 2 Subspecies of the Japanese Maple
  • 3 Cultivars of Japanese Maple
    • 3.1 Examples of cultivars 
  • 4 Japanese Maple Care
  • 4.1 Pot care
    • 4.1.1 Substrate 
    • 4.1.2 Irrigation
    • 4.1.3 Location
    • 4.1.4 Transplantation
  • 4.2 Care in the garden
    • 4.2.1 Soil
    • 4.2.2 Irrigation
    • 4.2.3 Location
    • 4.2.4 Transplantation
  • 5 When and how is Japanese Maple pruned?
  • 6 Fertilizer of Japanese Maple
  • 7 Pests and diseases of the Japanese Maple
  • 8 Reproduction of Japanese Maple
    • 8.1 Reproduction by seeds
    • 8.2 Reproduction by cuttings
    • 8.3 Reproduction by air layering
    • 8.4 Reproduction by grafting 
  • 9 Uses of Japanese Maple

Characteristics of the Japanese Maple

The Japanese Maple, or Acer palmatum speaking in botanical terms, is a shrub or small deciduous tree, that is, that falls in autumn, native to Japan and South Korea. It grows to a height between 6 and 10 meters, although some other varieties can reach 15m. 

The leaves are interesting: between 4 and 10cm wide and high; These are patterned, with up to 9 lobes ending in a point; in autumn, this plant dresses up, taking on reddish or purple hues before letting the wind breeze drop its effective leaf blades.

The flowers are distributed in inflorescences called cymes; the terminal flower of the axis is the first to open, and the others develop laterally. Each of them has 5 whitish petals. They sprout in spring to have the winged samaras – their seeds – ready by autumn when it will be time to collect them and stratify them in the fridge (we will see how to do this later).

This plant vegetates in cool-temperate climates, with temperatures between a maximum of 30ºC and a minimum of -18ºC. For this reason, they can have serious problems in climates where the mercury rises more in summer. But we are not going to end this special without giving you some tricks to have one too ????.

Subspecies of the Japanese Maple

There are many cultivars, and we might think that they all come from a single subspecies, but the truth is that only three subspecies are recognized:

  • Acer palmatum subsp Matsumurae: it has the largest leaves, up to 12cm wide, with doubly serrated margins. They live in Japan at high altitudes.
  • Acer palmatum subsp. Palmatum: It has the smallest leaves, up to 7cm wide, with doubly serrated margins. It lives at a low altitude in central and southern Japan.
  • Acer palmatum subsp. Ammonium: has leaves up to 10cm wide, with serrated margins. It lives in the highest altitudes of Japan and South Korea.

Japanese Maple Cultivars

And speaking of cultivars, do you know there are around 1000? It is said soon, right? But there are a thousand Japanese maples with which you can decorate your garden. These can only be reproduced by grafting, which allows trees to grow fast and with certain characteristics. In this sense, experts choose those cultivars that stand out for some reason or another: either because they have a light or darker colored leaf, because of their size, because of their size, etc. One of the main advantages that grafts have compared to plants obtained from the seed is that, if you acquire a graft, you can be completely sure that it will not exceed 5m in height.

Cultivars come from plants that have been mutated or have been artificially selected over many generations. Many of them have their characteristics in different seasons: different colors on the leaves, more or less shiny bark. It is a problem since a cultivar can have many names.

9 How to Japanese Maples How to Plant Care and Prune 2022

Examples of cultivars 

It isn’t easy to develop a list of the most impressive Japanese maple cultivars, as we can all have our own opinion on each one. Here is a small selection of those that are easier to find in nurseries or that for one reason or another we think can be great plants for both garden and pot:

  • Atropurpureum: it is by far the best known. It has intense red leaves for most of the year but is greener in summer.
  • Bloodgood: It is an improved cultivar of Atropurpureum. Resists somewhat better high temperatures
  • Butterfly: has leaves with white edges.
  • Deshojo: its leaves are shiny and soft red.
  • Dissectum: needle-like leaves
  • Katsura: yellow and green leaves, dotted with orange
  • Little Princess: small size (no more than 2m), with irregular bearing.
  • Osakazuki is a shrub or small tree that takes on a spectacular red hue in autumn.
  • Sango Kaku: beautiful tree with red or pink leaves in autumn.
  • Seiryu: finely dissected leaves, reddish-orange in autumn.

Japanese Maple Care

The Japanese Maple is an ideal plant in pots or gardens, but how do you take care of it? Well, as it needs the same care in one place as in another, let’s see it separately:

Pot care

Substratum 

If you want to have this plant in a pot, you have to plant it on a substrate with good drainage, but that also has a low pH, between 4 and 6. The ideal would be to use a specific substrate for acidophilic plants, but if you live in a warm, I recommend you more to mix 70% akadama with 30% kiryuzuna. In this way, the roots will remain properly aerated, and they will be able to carry water quickly to the leaves, preventing them from drying out.

Irrigation

Irrigation will have to be frequent since it does not withstand drought. For this, we will also use acidic water (you can acidify it by diluting the liquid of half a lemon in 1l / water), or rain, at least 3-4 times a week; something else in summer.

Location

Place your Japanese Maple in a place where it won’t get direct sunlight. Some cultivars, such as Seiryu or Osakazuki, can tolerate a few hours of direct sunlight, but it is best not to risk it. The area must be very bright, but always avoid that the sun’s rays impact directly on its leaves, as it could burn them.

Transplant

Potted Japanese maples should be transplanted every 2 years, especially if you use a very porous substrate or live in an appropriate climate. It will be done towards the end of winter, when the risk of frost has passed, planting them in a pot about 4cm at least wider.

Care in the garden

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The soil where the Japanese Maple should be planted must have a pH between 4 and 6. It could also thrive in limestone soils to which pine needles and iron sulfate were added regularly to keep the pH at values ​​suitable for Japanese Maple.

Irrigation

The irrigation will have to be regular, between 2 and 3 times a week, up to 4 during the warmest months of the year.

Location

The Japanese Maple does not like direct sun, so it is convenient to place it in an area with tall plants or walls, which protect it from the sun’s rays.

Transplant

If you want to pass it to your garden, you must do it before its leaves sprout during the spring. To do this, make a hole large enough so that it can fit well, place your Maple, and fill the hole with a substrate for acidophilic plants (if the soil you have has a pH between 4 and 6, you can use the soil that you extracted from the hole ).

When and how is the Japanese Maple pruned?

Pruning allows us to have plants with a smaller, more compact size. Some cultivars can grow quite large, perhaps more than what one expects and wants, so it is highly advisable to prune them in these cases. If we have a Japanese maple bonsai, we will also have to keep it with the style defined by pruning.

The most recommended time is in autumn or towards the end of winter when the tree is not fully active. Once we have decided the day on which we are going to prune it, we will take a hand saw and pruning shears and proceed to remove or trim those branches that:

  • they intersect
  • are too long
  • act as a guide (this will be trimmed to force the tree to pull out lower branches)
  • look weak or sick

Japanese Maple Fertilizer

Compost is very important for all plants, except carnivorous ones. They must be paid from spring to late summer for proper development and growth. It can also be done in the fall if you live in a warm climate.

In the case of Japanese Maple, it must be paid with a specific fertilizer for acid plants, following the recommendations indicated on the package (normally, it is once a week) although to get a more vigorous, healthier plant, I recommend you pay every other month with liquid organic fertilizers, such as guano, which has an immediate effect.

Pests and diseases of the Japanese Maple

The Japanese Maple is one of the plants that, although it may seem otherwise, is not usually affected by many pests or diseases. On the one hand, the most common is the cottony mealybugs and perhaps the red spider or the aphid if the environment is very dry. On the other hand, it could be affected by fungi of the genus Phytophthora.

 How to prevent Maple have these problems? Following these tips:

  • It is necessary to avoid that the substrate being flooded. Whenever you have doubts, put a wooden stick in the pot or in the ground to check the humidity of the substrate or soil: when you extract it, it comes out practically clean because it is dry and therefore must be watered. If you used a gravel-type substrate, such as Akadama and kyriuzuna, stir it a bit to see if it is still wet (if it is, it will still have a slightly darker brown tone).
  • humid environment must be provided. To increase the humidity, you can put some glasses with water around it. I advise against spraying since the water that remains on the leaves could clog the pores and, consequently, the plant would have problems breathing.
  • It is advisable to do preventive treatments with organic insecticides, such as nettle slurry or Neem oil that you will find in nurseries and garden stores. You can also prepare some remedies at home, such as making an infusion with garlic cloves, straining it, and spraying the plant when it has stopped burning.

9 How to Japanese Maples How to Plant, Care and Prune 2022

And what to do to fix them? In that case, you have to choose to use insecticides and fungicides as the case may be. If you have mealybugs or another pest, they have to be eliminated with Chlorpyrifos or Imidacloprid; On the other hand, if they are fungi, in addition to reducing the frequency of watering, it is necessary to treat them with a broad-spectrum fungicide.

9 How to Japanese Maples How to Plant Care and Prune 2022
9 How to Japanese Maples How to Plant Care and Prune 2022

Reproduction of the Japanese Maple

Do you dare to have your Japanese Maple? The experience can be enriching, from which we can learn a lot about this wonderful shrub or tree.

It can be reproduced by seeds, cuttings, air layering, or grafting.

Reproduction by seeds

The Japanese maples seeds must be collected in autumn to keep them in the refrigerator for three months, at a temperature of 6-7ºC, since they need to be cold to germinate. Once you have them, please put them in a transparent container with vermiculite and cover them with a thin layer of more vermiculite. Then, you have to water a little and add a pinch of sulfur or copper to prevent fungi from proliferating. Likewise, it is important that, at least once a week, you take the Tupper from the fridge and open it so that the air is renewed.

When the three months have passed, you can sow them in pots with a substrate for acidic plants, placing them in a location sheltered from direct sun. If all goes well, they will germinate in a month or two.

Reproduction by cuttings

The cutting method is one of the fastest and most effective. To cut Japanese Maple, select a branch that is at least 2cm thick and 40-50cm long, and prune it towards the beginning of spring. Next, you must moisten its base with water and impregnate it with rooting hormones.

Then, it is planted in a pot with a porous substrate, which will always be kept slightly damp. In 5-6 months, it will begin to emit roots.

9 How to Japanese Maples How to Plant Care and Prune 2022
9 How to Japanese Maples How to Plant Care and Prune 2022

Reproduction by air layering

But if you want to have a Japanese maple and don’t want to take any risk, then the best thing to do is layer it. To do this, you must remove a good piece of bark (about 10cm wide), moisten it with water and impregnate it with rooting hormones. Then, you have to pass a bag, to which you will have to tie the branch at one end, fill it with a specific substrate for acidic plants, moisten it, and then tie the other end.

The substrate must be kept moist, which can be done with the help of a syringe about 3-4 times a week. In 4-6 months, it will begin to emit roots.

Reproduction by graft 

Grafting is the method most used by experts to obtain new and more wonderful cultivars. It is done as follows:

  • Once the rootstock is chosen, the plant to which a branch of another Japanese maple will be introduced, a deep cut will be made to one of its woody stems in spring.
  • Next, a semi-woody branch is cut -which will be the graft-, and it is introduced into the rootstock.
  • Finally, everything is attached well with adhesive tape for grafts.

If all goes well, leaves will begin to sprout within two to four months of grafting. By the way, do not forget to remove the flakes that come out of the rootstock since it takes away energy from the graft and may not develop well.

Uses of Japanese Maple

The Japanese Maple has been used as an ornamental plant, whether in the garden, in a pot, or as a bonsai, since it was exported from Japan in the 19th century. Currently, you can find it living in all the temperate climates of the world, not only in Asia but also in Europe, America, and Australia.

Its cultivation in warmer climates is difficult, but even so, with the advice we have given you, you can have it even in the Mediterranean. I’m telling you from my own experience ????.

So nothing, do you dare to have a Japanese maple?

Do Japanese maples like sun or shade?

Dappled or Afternoon Shade – A mature Japanese Maple thrives in full sun everywhere but the southernmost portions of its hardiness range, but is also happy with a bit more shade. It does need some sun for best foliage color, but the amount you give it can vary greatly.

Are Japanese maples good trees?

Graceful and elegant, Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) are an excellent addition to most gardens. Essentially carefree once established, they offer year-round interest with their ever-changing beauty.

How fast do Japanese maples grow?

Growth Rate

This tree grows at a slow to medium rate, with height increases of anywhere from less than 12″ to 24″ per year.

How big do Japanese maples get?

15-25 feet tallAppearance. Bloodgood Japanese maple trees have vibrant foliage throughout most of the year. They grow in a rounded, upright shape, with thin branches sprouting from either a single trunk or multiple sub-trunks. The trees reach a maximum height of 15-25 feet tall, with a spread of 15-20 feet.

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