Pruning your dwarf Japanese maple tree will help promote new growth and help you shape your tree to better suit your landscape. Dwarf maples are often grown outdoors, but are also frequently grown inside in containers. They are ideally suited for pruning and trimming as a bonsai tree. Regardless of the type and location of your dwarf Japanese maple tree, the ideal way to prune is to work from the bottom up and from the inside of the tree outwards.
Prune your dwarf Japanese maple tree in the late summer or early fall. Light pruning can be done in any season except spring. In spring, the tree's sap is rising and pruning is not recommended.
Use very sharp, sterilized pruning shears. Sterilize your shears in 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Using unsterilized shears can introduce diseases into the Japanese maple tree.
Remove any diseased or damaged branches. Leaving these branches in place can, in addition to its negative visual impact, affect tree growth.
Remove some branches from the center of the tree if the branches are too close together. Remember to leave the branches that give the tree its overall shape.
Seal the cuts with a good tree wound dressing to help prevent disease and keep the cuts from drying out.
Fruit trees on dwarfing rootstocks grow to about 40 percent of the size of the same variety on a regular rootstock. Semi-dwarf trees grow to perhaps 60 percent of standard size.
Dwarf trees grow well in containers on patios and decks, and fruit is borne within easy reach. Semi-dwarf trees are suited best to slightly larger areas, such as the back of a flower bed, and may require a short ladder for pruning and harvesting.
Semi-dwarf trees, up to 15 feet in apples, are large enough to give some shade. Dwarf trees, up to 10 feet in apples, are more like large shrubs and less valuable for shade.
Dwarf trees may have such a small root system that they can't hold the tree upright in strong winds and need to be staked. They also need more attention to watering and fertilization because of the smaller root area.
Types of Fruit
Apples and cherries are naturally large trees and may require a fully dwarfing rootstock to bring down to home garden size. A semi-dwarf plum or peach may be the same size as a dwarf apple.
Space trees based on the needs of the particular species you are planting. Sweet cherry dwarf trees need to be planted 5 to 10 feet apart, while tart cherry dwarf trees need to be planted 8 to 10 feet apart. Most citrus trees can be planted 6 to 10 feet apart, but Meyer dwarf lemon trees need 10 to 12 feet of spacing.
Space dwarf fruit trees of different types using the spacing guidelines for the largest tree. For example, most apple dwarf trees generally need to be planted about 10 feet apart, but pear dwarf trees need to be planted 12 to 15 feet apart. When planting the two next to each other, space them according to the pear tree’s need (12 to 15 feet).
Plant dwarf fruit trees 12 feet apart when in doubt. Too much spacing will not hurt the trees, however overcrowding can. You can also plant most dwarf fruit trees in containers and spread them out as they mature.
Keep the temperature in the house warm. The ideal temperature should be between 68 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity is not an issue with this particular tree.
Keep the plant in bright sunlight. The ideal window would be a south window because it receives more direct sunlight for longer periods than a west or east window. A half day of sunlight will keep the tree healthy.
Keep the pot in a drip tray when watering. Thoroughly soak the soil. When you see the water filling the drip tray, you have added enough water. Remove any excess water in the drip tray and place it back under the pot. If the tree is growing in a warm temperature and a bright south sun, you should water two to three times a week.
Fertilize the dwarf orange tree at least once a month when the tree is actively growing. Use Miracid to maintain a high acid content, which the tree needs. When the tree is inactive, you should feed lightly about every third month.
Check the branches of your dwarf Japanese maple for dead, diseased and damaged wood. Diseased or damaged wood may be wounded, scarred, discolored or sport growths like galls. Dead wood won't move in the wind and will feel hollow.
Clip off dead, diseased and damaged wood at its base. In between cuts, spray your pruning tools with disinfectant spray to avoid contaminating healthy parts of the tree.
Prune low-growing branches that touch the ground back by several inches, cutting back to a lateral branch or just before a leaf.
Remove branches that crisscross other branches, since their rubbing will cause damage. Also remove shoots that grow vertically.
Remove limbs from crowded areas to promote new growth and to open up the tree canopy to light and air circulation. Eliminate up to 1/3 of the growth at a time.