How to Plant & Care for a Japanese Red Maple Tree


There are many different cultivars of Japanese red maple trees. Maples are deciduous trees that, if large enough, can be good shade trees and produce showy fall colors. Some Japanese maples are dwarfs, mainly grown as specimen trees. Japanese red maples can be weeping, narrow, or tall and spreading, depending on the tree. Leaves range from a redish variety with distinct lobes to a purplish color with very deep lobes that result in a lacy-looking leaf. Japanese red maples grow in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8.

Step 1

Plant your Japanese red maple tree in the spring after the risk of hard frost has passed. The exact date will vary, depending on your location.

Step 2

Remove your young Japanese maple seedling from its nursery pot.

Step 3

Dig a hole with the shovel slightly wider than the root ball of the seedling. Dig the hole slightly shallower than the root ball.

Step 4

Break up any clumps of soil larger than a golf ball with a hoe.

Step 5

Fill in the hole with the soil removed in step 3.

Step 6

Cover the roots, creating a mound that is slightly above ground level. This will help prevent water from pooling around the newly planted tree's trunks.

Step 7

Mulch the newly planted tree with 2 to 3 inches of mulch to reduce moisture evaporation from the soil and to reduce the risk of soil erosion.

Step 8

Soak your newly planted tree thoroughly just after planting. How much water you will need will depend on the size of the tree. Add at least as much water as the size of the planting container. For example, if you planted a maple that came in a 1-gallon container, add at least a gallon of water. If your tree came in a 5-gallon container, add at least 5 gallons of water.

Step 9

Water your maple 2 to 3 times a week with 1 to 2 inches of water a week.

Step 10

Prune your red Japanese maple in the late winter before the buds have formed. Do not prune in the spring, as the tree can weep excessively if pruned while the sap is rising.

Things You'll Need

  • Japanese maple nursery tree
  • Shovel
  • Hoe (optional)
  • Mulch


  • Clemson University: Maples
  • Texas A&M University: Japanese Maples
  • University of Florida: Acer Palmatum 'Bloodgood'
  • Oregon State University: Acer palmatum
  • Japanese Maples: Japanese Maple Care
Keywords: Japanese maple trees, Japanese maple care, Japanese red maples

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.