How to Plant Japanese Red Maple Trees


Japanese red maple (Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum') grows in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5B to 8. Its red leaves turn from red to green by summer, and from green to orange for autumn. This tree is flexible about its planting environment and grows in sun or in shade. Plant Japanese red maples either in the late winter or early spring, once frost danger has passed, or in the autumn before the winter chill sets in.

Step 1

Choose a location where your Japanese red maple tree will have room to mature. The trees can reach 25 feet in both height and width.

Step 2

Dig up the grass in a 3 foot circle where you plan to plant the tree. Use a spade to get underneath the grass and loosen the roots, and pull it up with your hands.

Step 3

Prepare the hole for your Japanese red maple. Dig a hole twice the width of the tree's root ball. Remove any rocks or roots from the hole, and jab your shovel at the bottom of the hole to roughen up the soil.

Step 4

Take your Japanese red maple out of its container. Squeeze the root ball with your fingers to break it up and unwind roots that have become circled. Circled roots can suffocate the young tree.

Step 5

Place the tree in the hole at the same depth as it was planted in the container and check to ensure the tree's trunk is straight. When you're satisfied with the placement of the maple tree, fill in the hole with soil all the way to the top.

Step 6

Create a 4-inch-high soil ring around the edge of your hole of the newly planted tree. If you need more soil, carry some over from other parts of the garden. The ring creates a basin around the tree.

Step 7

Water the newly planted red maple by filling the basin with water. The water will seep into the soil. Water the tree every day during the first week by pouring up to 1 qt. of water into the basin. During the second week, switch to 1 to 2 qt. of water every other day, then 2 to 3 qt. of water every two days.

Step 8

Mulch the bare soil around the base of the tree with mulch or pine straw.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Japanese red maple sapling


  • United States Forest Service: Japanese Maple
  • Texas A & M: Planting a Tree
Keywords: japanese maple tree, plant maple tree, plant Japanese maple

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.