Japanese maple trees (Acer palmatum) are deciduous maples highly desirable for their slow growth rate, compact round size and finely textured foliage. Native to Japan, Korea and parts of China, these trees also have showy fall color ranging from bronze to a deep, dark purple, depending on the cultivar. There are over 30 cultivars of the Japanese maple tree, according to information published by North Carolina State University, making it easy for the home gardener to find one that is just right for his landscape.
Japanese maple trees thrive in wet climates that have mild winters and summers. They grow best in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) growing zones 5B through 8, according to information published by the University of Florida.
Japanese maples do best with some protection from direct sunlight, especially in the hottest climates. Choose a planting site that has dappled shade. The soil should be well-draining and not prone to flooding. Leaf scorch can occur if the tree is exposed to drying winds, so place it in a sheltered location in windy climates.
Japanese maples thrive in soil that is rich in organic matter, according to information published by North Carolina State University. Amend the soil at the planting site with leaf mold or compost before planting the tree. Dig a hole twice as wide and as deep as the root ball. Place the tree in the hole so that the top of the root ball is equal to the level of the soil, and back-fill it with the removed dirt. Tamp down the soil gently and water thoroughly.
Japanese maples thrive in moist soil, as long as it is not overly wet. Standing water may cause root rot to develop, which is a fungal disease that can destroy the roots of the tree. Water when the top of the soil becomes dry. Established trees need only supplemental watering during periods of extended drought. These trees do well when mulched. A 3- or 4-inch layer of mulch, placed around the tree and extended to the edge of the tree's canopy, will retain moisture and prevent weed growth.
Aphids are the biggest insect pest of maple trees, according to the University of Florida. Heavy infestations can lead to premature leaf drop. Spray aphid-infested trees with an insecticide formulated to kill sucking and chewing insects. Repeat applications will likely be necessary. Nutrient deficiencies in the soil can cause yellowing of the leaves, usually caused by a lack of manganese. Supplements will remedy this problem.