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Grace & Beauty Through all Seasons

Japanese Maples

Without a doubt, Japanese maples are by far one of the most popular and versatile of ornamental trees. People absolutely love them, and for good reason - they are beautiful! Images of brilliant reds, vibrant oranges, surreal greens and any color in between come to mind when we think of Japanese maples. Their color and structure are unmatched, while their size makes them accessible to those whose gardens are measured in square feet instead of acres. With their small stature, tremendous variety, and four-season beauty, Japanese maples offer something all year long.

Planting and caring for your Japanese maple is really pretty basic and following fundamental care and planting practices will provide a nice home for your tree. Here are a few tips on how to care for your Japanese maple:

Pruning - maples have a naturally beautiful form, so if they are in good health and have room to grow, they’ll need very little pruning. If pruning is required, prune during the winter to remove dead, dying and diseased limbs. Shape the crown as desired to achieve landscape goals

Watering – water is critical to Japanese maples, especially during the heat of Hampton Roads summers. Avoid overhead watering, especially during the heat of the day to prevent disease and fungus. Drip irrigation is best and remember to keep the soil around the tree mulched.

Planting location - in their natural habitat, Japanese maples are an understory tree. They should be planted in areas with light shade, however full sun is acceptable for many cultivars if irrigation is provided during summer droughts.

Pests/Problems - be on the lookout for these pests/problems and remedy the situation:

  • Aphid - spray with a general purpose insecticide such as Fertilome Broad Spectrum Insect Spray.
  • Scale - during dormant period treat with Horticultural Oil.
  • Borers - spray when needed in May or June with Fertilome Borer & Caterpillar Spray.
  • Leaf Scorch - avoid using lawn fertilizer in the root zone (under the branches of the tree) as too much nitrogen can burn the leaves; apply a 3 inch layer of mulch to keep roots cool and moist.
  • Powdery Mildew – treat with a fungicide, such as Fertilome Garden Fungicide

    Planting – dig a hole approximately twice the width of the root ball. Use your fingers to loosen the root ball, and then place it in the hole. The top of the root ball should sit about an inch above ground level. Fill the hole back in with McDonald’s recommended soil mixture (1/3 compost, 1/3 perlite, and 1/3 of your own dirt that came out of the hole), mounding up to top edge of the root ball. Mulch over top of the roots and water it in.