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How to Plant a Bloodgood Japanese Maple

By D.C. Winston ; Updated September 21, 2017
Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' Japanese maple.

The 'bloodgood' varietal of Japanese maple is a small tree or large shrub ornamental grown for its deep red to greenish-bronze-colored foliage. It is hardy in USDA zones 5b through 8 and can be planted year round where hardy. Bloodgood maples can be grown in sunny and shady locales but do better with more sun in cooler climes. Plant in the garden as hedging, borders, upright-trained specimen trees and containerized trees.

Select a planting site for your bloodgood maple that has a sunny to shady exposure. When in cooler northern climes maples can tolerate more direct sunlight. When in hotter or drier southern climates full sun can cause the soil to easily dry out requiring more water maintenance and risking damage. Plant bloodgood maples where they can grow to maturity without having to be relocated as they don't respond well to root disruption once established. Allow a height clearance from other trees or roof lines or power lines of up to 20 feet and a spread just as wide.

Prepare the planting site by tilling up and loosening the soil to at least or exceeding the depth of the root ball. Boost the nutrient content of the soil by amending with a few pounds each of compost and well aged manure and tilling them in well. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the bloodgood's root ball and a few inches deeper.

Set the tree into the hole and turn so that its most pleasing aspect is facing the direction from which it will most often be viewed. Keep the top of the root ball level with new surrounding soil. Fill in the removed soil and at the halfway point water in allowing the soil to settle. Put back the rest of the soil and tamp down with the heel of your shoe to collapse any air pockets.

Create a watering moat with the remaining soil at the drip line of the tree or a few feet out from the trunk. Fill the moat with water twice allowing it to percolate down into the soil between fillings. After the water has been absorbed lay down a 2-inch thick blanket of organic mulch in the form of shredded bark, cocoa hulls or leaf mold to prevent moisture loss and keep competitive weeds at bay.

Hold off on fertilizing your Japanese maple until the next spring following planting. Allowing the tree to focus on root production as opposed to the foliage production that fertilizing induces will ensure a healthy start for the tree in its new location. When you do fertilize, use a light hand and look for a balanced fertilizer formula that derives its nitrogen from calcium nitrate or other non-ammonium form. Rose tone or rose food, as well as slow-release fertilizers for woody shrubs, can be good options.


Things You Will Need

  • Bloodgood maple tree
  • Shovel
  • Tilling fork
  • Compost
  • Organic mulch material