With over 1,000 varieties in existence, the Japanese maple is among the most diversified group of trees in the world. Japanese maples can vary in size, shape, and leaf characteristics. Some varieties grow in colonies with multiple trunks, while others grow upright with a single trunk. Some Japanese maples are grown in containers as an accent plant or as a specimen variety, while others are planted in masses as a background plant in gardens. But general care for Japanese maples is typically the same.
Select a location for your Japanese maple that receives full sun throughout most of the daytime, and some evening shade. Some Japanese maple cultivators need full sun to develop their dark red leaves. If these trees are left in the shade, their leaves will remain green.
Dig a hole for your tree that is twice the diameter of the root ball, and the same depth as the rootball.
Scratch deep furrows into the side and bottom of the planting hole using a cultivating fork. Add compost to the hole and work it into the furrows.
Place the root ball of the plant in the hole. Position the plant so that the top of the root ball, known as the planting collar, is level with the surrounding soil. Fill in the area around the root ball with dirt. Pat the dirt to dislodge any air holes.
Mix root stimulator according to package directions. Pour on the root ball to reduce transplant shock.
Mulch around the roots to protect them and hold in moisture. Water weekly with a garden hose until the plant becomes established. Use approximately 5 gallons of water, or just enough to keep the soil slightly damp to the touch.
Fertilize yearly in the spring before leaves emerge with a balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer that has been formulated for trees and shrubs. Follow package directions when using fertilizer. Quantities and mixing instructions vary from fertilizer brand to brand.
Prune with pruning shears or branch loppers in fall after the leaves have dropped and plants go dormant. Remove branches that cross and rub, as well as undergrowth to expose the tree's inner structure.