Home » Caring for a Dwarf Japanese Maple Tree

Caring for a Dwarf Japanese Maple Tree

Dwarf Japanese maple trees can be a real asset in a landscaping project because they add a small but striking focal point, with their amazing colours and unusually-shaped leaves. A dwarf Japanese maple tree from thetreecenter.com will probably reach six feet in height and work well in rock gardens and even on decking or a balcony.


How to plant

Choose your location wisely

Your planting site must be at least five feet away from other trees or structures and there must also be at least two or three hours of shade there each day. Japanese maples are prone to scorching, so if you can’t provide this shade with a building, plant a taller tree around six feet away from it. You should avoid windy corners, as winds also damage these trees.

Test your soil

These trees need soil with a pH range of 6 to 8, ideally. If your soil is alkaline, lower the pH by adding a two-inch layer of sphagnum peat, working it into the topsoil well. If you need to raise the pH, add limestone into the topsoil – a half-pound for every 10 square feet. Retest the soil and add more peat or lime if necessary.

Make sure it drains well

Add compost to the topsoil – one part compost to two parts soil – so that it drains well. Japanese maple trees are very vulnerable to wet soil around the roots.

Dig your hole

Your planting hole should be twice as wide but no deeper than the rootball. The Japanese maple can be planted all year round, as long as it’s in the plant hardiness zones 5-8. Place the rootball in the hole and cover with soil, leaving an inch of the rootball exposed above ground level


Cover the ground under the tree’s leaf-spread with a three-inch layer of mulch. Avoid the base of the trunk, though, leaving two or three inches around it clear.

Watering and fertilising

Water the tree immediately after planting and every day after for two weeks.

After this initial period, water the tree once a week for every week that it doesn’t rain. Test the tree’s soil with fingers to see if it’s damp enough.

Use 10-10-10 fertilizer twice a year (spring and fall), by sprinkling it on the soil under the leaf canopy. Leave a two-foot wide clear space around the trunk and use one pound of fertilizer for every inch of trunk diameter.


Using clean and sharp pruning shears, you should prune the tree in late fall or early winter, before the sap rises. Place the thinner pruning blade next to the trunk when pruning, as this doesn’t leave a stub.

Cut off small branches and twigs where they intersect with larger branches, as this removes center growth, making the main trunk visible.

Cut off branches where they cross over as this may cause rubbing, damaging the bark and potentially letting insects or diseases in.

Prune no more than a quarter of the tree each year, as this is enough to promote new growth and help to repair damage.

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