Japanese maple trees are deciduous trees with a slow to moderate growth rate and fine texture. Known for their fiery fall foliage, Japanese maple trees create a showy garden display. The dense, spreading branches have a growth habit ranging from vase-shaped to globose, where the branches reach the ground, creating a canopy within. Growing up to 20 feet tall and wide, Japanese maple trees are ideal planted as a specimen plant within the garden.
Japanese maple trees thrive in partial shade and require protection from direct sunlight and drying winds, both of which damage the maple. According to University of Florida Extension, leaves often scorch in hot summer weather in USDA hardiness zones 7b and 8, unless they are in some shade or irrigated during dry weather. Japanese maple trees require well-drained, acidic soil that is full of organic matter. They prefer moist to average amounts of soil moisture, so always avoid sites that are overly dry. Japanese maple trees grow in a wide range of soil types including, sandy and clay or loam soils. If grown in clay soil, make sure the ground is lightly sloped to ensure the water does no accumulate around the tree and cause rot.
To keep the established Japanese maple tree healthy, add 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the canopy. During the summer, when the temperatures are high, keep the Japanese maple moist. According to the Virginia State University Cooperative Extension, during dry periods, water deeply (top 12 inches of soil) by placing hose within the drip line of tree and letting water trickle into the soil.
Keep the Japanese maple pruned to maintain shape and prevent disease. Always remove drooping, gnarled or dead branches by removing the entire branch. Disease or pest-infested branches require removal and discarding away from the planting site to prevent infection to the tree or surrounding plants. If planted near turf, always remove the grass away from the branches to ensure gardening equipment like lawn mowers to damage the tree.
Look out for scorch on the Japanese maple tree, a disease that happens during high summer temperatures or when the tree is diseased or has an inadequate root system. Trees that have scorch disease show evidence of scorching in between the leaf veins where dead areas are present. To remedy scorching made by high temperatures, thoroughly water the maple. If caused by disease or a bad root system, watering does not have an effect on the tree.
Nutrient deficiency of manganese, the most common nutrient deficiency of the Japanese maple tree, presents itself in the leaves where they turn yellow or yellow green, accompanied by dark green veins. To remedy this deficiency, insert a manganese capsule in the trunk of the tree.