Red Japanese Maple Tree Care & Maintenance


Red Japanese maples have leaves that are often red in the spring, turn purple in the summer, and turn red again in the fall. Some red maples have a greenish tinge or edge, others are solid red or purple. Red Japanese maples are available as weeping maples or upright trees, small miniatures suitable for yard or bonsai culture and as full-sized trees.


Most red Japanese maples grow well in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8. Some trees require longer periods of cold dormancy to maintain health. The length and temperature can vary greatly, depending on the species. Maple roots can be damaged by very cold temperatures. If you live in a zone colder than zone 5, you may be able to buy a red Japanese maple that has been grafted to a hardier root stock.


Pruning can be important with many varieties of red Japanese maple. If your maple is a weeping maple, you will want to trim the branches and prevent them from touching the ground. Other Japanese maples are pruned as other trees. Create the shape you want by trimming from the bottom up and the inside out. Be sure to look at your tree from multiple angles to make sure that a branch removal that looks good on one side doesn't make the tree unbalanced from another angle. Try to remove about 1/3 of your tree's foliage per year to encourage new growth.


The exact sun conditions best for your Japanese maple will vary somewhat. However, most Japanese maples will do well in a location that gets direct morning sun and is shaded in the afternoon. Allowing the hot afternoon sun to fall on many varieties of red Japanese maple can result in leaf burn.


Japanese maple trees have fairly shallow roots that can dry out easily. Your Japanese maple needs a consistent amount of water. The amount of water your maple will need will depend on your climate and the amount of natural rainfall your area gets. Water your red Japanese maple once the top 1/4 inch of soil has dried out. Give your tree 2 to 3 inches of water per soaking.


Japanese maples are a slow-growing tree. As a slow-growing tree, your red Japanese maple can get most of its nutrition from the existing soil. However, fertilizing once a year with a well-balanced fertilizer can help maintain the soil health around the tree and help ensure that your tree gets the nutrition that it needs.

Keywords: red maple, Japanese maple, maple care

About this Author

Christopher Earle is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colo. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for National Public Radio, the Associated Press, the Boeing Company, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, Active Voice, RAHCO International and Umax Data Systems. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota.