Feeding Japanese Maples in Containers


The Japanese maple tree (Acer palmatum) is a popular garden accent, grown both in the ground and in containers. According to Master Gardeners at Washington State University, the Japanese maple is not a heavy feeder and, in fact, may lose some of its color if over-fertilized. What to feed the tree, and how often, seems to be a hotly debated topic in gardening circles (UBC). As long as the tree isn't over-fertilized, it should thrive in your USDA zone 6 to 9 container garden.

Step 1

Water the Japanese maple tree until the water runs from the bottom of the pot.

Step 2

Sprinkle the fertilizer on the soil, at half the rate suggested on the label, not allowing it to touch the tree's bark.

Step 3

Use the trowel to scratch the fertilizer into the top 2 inches of soil.

Step 4

Water the Japanese maple again, just enough to wet the top 4 inches of soil.

Step 5

Withhold fertilizer in August. A late-season burst of growth may not harden in time to protect itself from early frosts, according to Todd Boland, a research horticulturist. Begin fertilizing again in spring, as soon as you notice new growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Slow-release granular fertilizer, labeled for use on Camellia, Azalea, and Gardenias
  • Trowel
  • Zones 6-9


  • Washington State University: Japanese Maples
  • UBC Botanical Garden: Fertilization
  • Container Gardening: Japanese Maples for Containers
Keywords: fertilize Japanese maple, Japanese maple container, feed Japanese maple

About this Author

Victoria Hunter, a former broadcaster and real estate agent, has provided audio and written services to both small businesses and large corporations, worldwide. Hunter is a freelance writer specializing in the real estate industry. She devotes her spare time to her other passions: gardening and cooking. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.