Japanese maple trees, though more delicate looking than the average maple tree, are surprisingly hardy and once planted and relatively easy to grow and care for. They can be grown in the ground, pots, or in containers (some even being cultivated in the bonsai method), and may also add hundreds to thousands of dollars in value to your property.
Growing Japanese Maple Trees
Plant Japanese maples in the spring after the last frost. You can propagate these trees from the seed, though seeds tend to be hybrids and may not necessarily produce the parent plant's coloration or growing structure. If you have gophers or other pests, line your hole with chicken wire prior to planting.
Select a place that gets morning sun and afternoon shade, ideally. Keep in mind that in areas with very hot summers, new leaves may burn and scald.
Dig a hole approximately four times the width of the root mass of the plant. Place approximately 50% to 70% of the original soil back into the hole when planting your tree. The rest should be made up of compost or mulch, plus small amounts of peat moss, gypsum, soil sulfur, and/or coffee grounds. The ideal soil for Japanese maples is a sandy, loamy, slightly acidic soil with a pH level of 5.5 to 6.5.
Make sure not to plant low to the ground. Otherwise, the trees may not drain well. The top of the root ball should be planted with an oversized "water well" made of mounded dirt. A more natural alternative is to plant an inch or two below the ground to create a reservoir.
After planting, place an inch or two of mulch around the tree, without touching the trunk. Make sure to water deeply right away by placing a hose at the base and letting water trickle into the soil.
Japanese maples need several years before their shallow root system is established. Keep them weed-free and frequently watered for the first few years. You may need to provide support stakes for young slender branches as they grow.
Japanese Maple Maintenance & Tips