Japanese maple - Acer palmatum
The Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is a colourful little tree that is becoming increasingly common in gardens. This hardy shrub has become more popular in recent years thanks to its habit of changing colours across the seasons, creating an outdoor feast for the eyes, all year round. Pair the maple with ornamental grasses or similar garden plants for an Asian zen feel.
Japanese maple - Acer palmatum
Location & careThe Japanese maple is a sensitive tree with quite specific requirements for its location. It likes a sunny spot but does not tolerate strong midday sun, so we recommend picking a spot in partial shade. Make sure that the Acer does not get too much direct sunlight, especially in summer, as this may damage its leaves. It can withstand the cold well in winter, so you can leave the Japanese maple outside in temperatures of up to -10 degrees Celsius.
The Acer also prefers to grow in airy and well-drained peat soil as this ensures that the roots have enough room to expand and grow well. The Japanese maple prefers acidic potting soil, so be careful with potting soil containing calcium or hard clay, which is not good for the roots. You can plant the maple in both pots and open ground. If you plant the Acer in a flower pot, make sure that there are holes at the bottom of the pot so excess water can drain away, preventing the roots from rotting. This is especially important in summer, when you may need to water the plant up to twice a day. Always give small amounts of water at a time so that the roots can absorb it properly. Plants in open ground they require watering less often and we recommend using spring water instead of tap water, to keep the soil acidic.
Finally, fertilisation is very important for the Acer. Give the plant organic fertiliser around twice per year to stimulate its growth. The right nutrition will ensure that the plant becomes stronger and remains beautiful for longer.
Pruning for the loveliest shapeThe Japanese maple is a fairly fast growing plant that grows evenly. This means the shrub almost always has a beautiful shape, so pruning the Acer is not essential — it will also remain healthy without pruning. The most common reason for pruning is to keep the shrub nice and compact. The best time to do this is at the end of June or start of July, when the flow of sap tails off again. and cutting away dead wood and withered twigs is easy. Always respect the natural shape of the plant to keep it as beautiful as possible. You can prune your Japanese maple again in early spring if it has been damaged by frost or a lack of nutrition. The best time to do this is around the end of March, just before the new buds start to appear. Again, you can cut away dead branches back to the living parts of the plant, but be careful not to cut into the living wood. This can result in significant sap loss and in the worst case, the tree may die.
If you would like more detailed information about pruning Acers, then read our article about pruning the Japanese maple.