The Japanese maple tree, technically referred to as Acer palmatum, is a deciduous, broadleaf tree that can reach heights of 25 feet with an equivalent spread. This colorful tree develops foliage in an array of colors from red to green, with fall variations from yellow to purple. This slow-growing tree adapts easily to its environment. It is an ideal selection, not only as a garden centerpiece tree but as a privacy shrub, accent plant and bonsai plant as well.
Water the Japanese maple tree deeply and infrequently, providing approximately 1 to 1-1/2 inches of water once each week. Increase the irrigation levels during the hot, dry summer months by 1/2 to 1 inch. Always adjust the irrigation schedule during rainy periods and cold periods, cutting back completely when necessary. Cease irrigation during the cold winter months, resuming in the early spring after the final frost.
Feed the Japanese maple tree in the early spring just after the final frost. Use a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 combination. Distribute the fertilizer evenly around the base of the tree and approximately 1 foot from the trunk to avoid root burn. Water in the fertilizer in thoroughly with about 1 to 1-1/2 inches of water.
Prune the Japanese maple tree regularly to promote healthy development. Complete major pruning in the late fall, after the growing season is complete. Remove any dead or dying branches and stems. Thin the foliage and branches to promote good aeration throughout the tree's interior. Prune the tree to the desired shape and size.
Protect the Japanese maple from common diseases such as anthracnose, leaf spot and powdery mildew. Keep the tree's area free of fallen debris, weeds and other clutter. Remove any dead, dying or wilted foliage, branches, and stems from the tree. Treat the tree with an annual fungicidal spray to prevent infection.
Provide additional protection by applying a 1-inch layer of mulch around the trunk of the tree to prevent canker diseases. Increase the mulch layer to 2 to 3 inches during the late fall to provide ample winter protection.