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How to Fertilize Japanese Red Maples

By Bridget Kelly ; Updated September 21, 2017
Some varieties of Japanese red maple turn green in the summer.

The Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is a stunning tree with bright red foliage and a height of 15 to 25 feet. Red Japanese maple exhibits its best color when grown in light shade or given lots of water if grown in the sun. Young Japanese red maples need to be fertilized once a year, in the spring, but not until they are over one year old. The amount of fertilizer you will use depends upon the age of the tree.

Clear away any mulch from the base of the Japanese red maple. Use the rake to loosen the top 1 inch of soil from the base of the tree to 1 foot further than the tree’s drip line (the tips of the widest branches of the tree).

Don your gloves and mask. Fertilizer particles are tiny and easily ingested.

Sprinkle the fertilizer over the raked area, according to the rate suggested on the package for the age and size of your Japanese red maple tree, and use the gardening fork to lightly mix it in with the top 1 inch of soil.

Water the fertilized area until the soil is moist.

Spread fresh mulch over the fertilized area, keeping it 2 inches away from the Japanese red maple’s trunk.


Things You Will Need

  • Rake
  • Gardening fork
  • Gardening gloves
  • Mask
  • Japanese maple fertilizer, 4-8-5 formula, granular
  • Mulch


  • Fertilizers can contain harmful chemicals. Always wear protective clothing when working with fertilizers and read and follow all warning labels.

About the Author


Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at Trulia.com, SFGate.com, GardenGuides.com, RE/MAX.com, MarketLeader.com, RealEstate.com, USAToday.com and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.