Care for Japanese Trees


A Japanese tree is a small deciduous variety that reaches a height and canopy spread of 20 feet. Home landscapers plant the Japanese tree to take advantage of the ornamental bright red leaf color and attractively shaped foliage. Japanese trees grow best in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8 depending on the variety chosen. Plant a Japanese tree in the fall season during the dormant stage to reduce damage and stress on the tree.

Step 1

Choose an area in the home landscape that has a well-draining soil and receives a minimum of six hours full sunlight to plant a Japanese tree. Test the soil pH and add ground rock sulfur to lower the pH to a value of 3.7 to 6.5, if needed.

Step 2

Plant a Japanese tree in a hole that is twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball. Amend the removed soil by working in equal amounts of organic compost. Pack the amended soil around the root ball and water the soil well to eliminate air pockets.

Step 3

Water a Japanese tree during the summer growing months when the weekly rainfall is less than 1 inch. Apply water with a slow drip by setting a 5-gallon bucket with a 1/4-inch hole drilled into the bottom lip and filled with water at the base of the tree.

Step 4

Apply a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the base of the tree to retain soil moisture and limit weed growth around the Japanese tree. Leave a 6-inch gap between the start of the mulch and trunk of the tree to prevent excess moisture buildup that promotes stem and trunk rot.

Step 5

Fertilize a Japanese tree each spring with a balanced tree fertilizer applied at the rate listed on the package for the size of the tree. Japanese trees require no further fertilizer treatments during the growing season.

Step 6

Prune a Japanese tree in late fall once the tree goes in the dormant stage by removing damaged or dead branches. Prune to remove branches from the internal canopy that rub or grow toward the center of the tree instead of outward.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil pH test
  • Ground rock sulfur
  • Shovel
  • Organic compost
  • Water
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Drill
  • Mulch
  • Balanced tree fertilizer
  • Pruning clipper
  • Bleach


  • University of Florida: Acer palmatum Japanese Maple
  • Arbor Day Foundation: Japanese Red Maple
  • Tree Help: Japanese Maple Tree
Keywords: Japanese tree care, grow Japanese tree, plant Japanese tree

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.