Care of Japanese Maples
Care of Japanese Maples
Japanese maples are very easy to care for, and they prefer little attention and fuss. Basic care just as mulching, water, fertilizer, and pruning are discussed in detail below. But just make note that less is better with Japanese maples, instead of more. They would rather have a little less fertilizer, water, and/or pruning, instead of too much.
Summer heat and draught problems: Mulch your trees with 2 1/2 to 3" of shredded bark, preferably hardwood, to insulate the roots and prevent water from evaporating around the tree. Water deeply twice a week; water more often if it is a newly planted tree or a container-grown tree. Leaf tip burn is unsightly, but not a cause for panic. Afternoon shade and good watering practices help, but in extreme conditions you may have to live with it. Under extremely stressful conditions your maple may drop all it's leaves. Do not despair. The tree is protecting itself while telling you it is not getting enough water.
When your tree is feeling stressed do not fertilize it till it is feeling better. Also, if your tree is stressed, be on the lookout for other problems such as insects or disease so you can deal with them immediately and prevent a spiral of decline.
Fall is a time of great opportunities: Pruning for form is best done late summer or early fall. Working up and from inside to out, clean out small twigs growing along the trunk and major branches, dead wood, and crossed and rubbing branches. Stand back and look carefully at your tree's shape. If it is not pleasing, look for what you need to remove to improve its form. Before making each cut, study where the branch goes and visualize the tree without it. Planting in the fall can be very rewarding. Try to plant at least 4 to 6 weeks before the ground freezes. The roots get a chance to establish themselves, and, come spring the tree will be ready to put on new growth. If there is no rain be sure to water until the ground freezes and in the early spring. Mulching is always a good idea for fall; it will help insulate the roots for winter and protect their early spring growth.
ONE MORE THING TO CONSIDER, IF YOU HAVE A VERY WARM EARLY SPRING THAT PUSHES THE MAPLE OUT EARLY, THEN ANOTHER VERY COLD SNAP, IT IS BEST TO TRY AND COVER THE MAPLE WITH A SHEET OR SOMETHING TO KEEP IT FROM GETTING DAMAGES. IT IS VUNERABLE AT THIS TIME, BECAUSE IT IS NOT LONGER DORMANT.
Winter care of your Japanese Maples: Make sure your trees are well watered in the late fall and up till the time when the ground freezes. Mulch with about 3" of shredded hard bark, keeping it a few inches away from the trunk to allow air to circulate. After severe winters many people find branches snapped out of their dissectums. Try not to let branch tips freeze to the ground; when they do the capacity to move and give is lost and the burden of heavy snow on the top center can cause branches to crack or even break. It is a Good idea to remove snow accumulation from the treetops as soon as possible. At the same time, be cautious about a coat of ice. Whole branches may break, the tips may snap off and the bark may be badly damaged. To minimize the burden of winter hazards, remove dead leaves that cling to the ends of branches before snow or ice come.