How to Care for Japanese Maple Trees


The Japanese maple tree is a deciduous tree that can quickly adapt to moist growing environments. This showy maple tree can reach heights of up to 25 feet with an equivalent spread. The foliage is star-shaped yet simple, and ranges in colors from reds to oranges. This slow to moderately growing tree is hardy and somewhat cold tolerant but can experience dieback and injury to extensively cold winter months.

Step 1

Grow the Japanese maple tree in a well-drained area that receives at least eight hours of full to partially shaded sunlight each day. Choose a location with neutral to mildly acidic soils.

Step 2

Prune the Japanese maple to remove dead, dying and wilted foliage and branches. Use sharp, sterile pruning shears and complete the cuts on an angle to promote rapid healing. Complete the pruning process in the late fall and winter months while the tree is dormant.

Step 3

Feed the Japanese maple tree with a well-balanced, slow release fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 combination. Distribute the fertilizer evenly around the tree. Keep the fertilizer at least 12 inches from the base of the tree to prevent root burn. Apply the fertilizer monthly throughout the growing season.

Step 4

Irrigate the Japanese maple to provide approximately 1.5 to 2 inches of water each week. Use a slow irrigation process to avoid overwatering. Adjust the irrigation levels accordingly during the rainy and drought periods.

Step 5

Keep the area under and around the Japanese maple tree free of weeds and clutter. Pull any weeds as they appear, ensuring that the root system is also removed from below the surface. Treat excessive weed invasions with a pre-emergent herbicide to eliminate the competition with the tree.

Step 6

Protect the soil moisture levels of the Japanese maple tree. Apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the diameter of the tree. Replenish the mulch throughout the year to maintain consistent protection.

Step 7

Prevent the potential for disease and infection of the maple tree. Treat the Japanese maple with an annual application of fungicide. Inspect the tree regularly for signs of adverse health. Look for symptoms such as wilting, drooping, presence of mildew, cankers, lesions and foliage spots. Speak with a horticultural or nursery specialist for diagnosis assistance.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Water


  • Ohio State University Extension: Acer Palmatum
  • US Department of Agriculture: Acer palmatum Figure 1. Middle-aged Japanese Maple. Japanese Maple
  • Floridata: Acer palmatum
Keywords: Japanese maple tree, red maple care, growing Japanese maple

About this Author

Charmayne Smith is a business professional and freelance writer. She has worked in management for successful organizations since 1994. Smith draws on her business background to write articles, and her work has appeared in a variety of online outlets. She holds a degree in business from Cleveland State University.