Japanese maple: care and varieties

The Japanese maple is one of the undisputed stars of gardens, green areas and even balconies throughout the world. Its characteristic webbed leaves, which turn to warm and striking red tones in autumn, are its best known and most appreciated signature, which is why it is also often chosen to give life and charm to streets and avenues. In fact, it is not difficult to have at home if you know the care of Japanese maple and its varieties .

Japanese maple characteristics

The Acer palmatum is a deciduous tree that supports pruning very well, so it can be grown both in soil and in pots. In fact, the Acer palmatum bonsai is one of the most popular, and it is that fans of this technique find in it an especially beautiful plant that tolerates the demanding processes involved in obtaining a Japanese bonsai maple.

How long does a maple take to grow and how long does a Japanese maple grow? The Acer palmatum grows an average of up to 10 meters in height, although there are varieties that can exceed 15. It is also true that when grown in pots, its growth will be much lower, rarely exceeding 3 or 4 meters . Regarding how long it takes to grow, a Japanese maple will take between 7 and 10 years to reach maturity.

And when does the Japanese maple or red maple bloom? Usually its flowering occurs in spring, although it is not as striking from the ornamental point of view as its leaves are.In autumn, we can see that this maple is filled with red leaves , which can range from a light red to one dark, similar to purple.

Japanese maple: care and varieties - Characteristics of the Japanese maple

Location and climate of Japanese maple

The light needs and tolerances of this tree are highly dependent on the climate in which it is found. In cold climates, the Acer palmatum tolerates and appreciates exposures to full sun , while in Mediterranean climates it is better to place it in semi-shade or even in shade if it is particularly hot areas.

The tree can withstand frost and subtropical climates, keeping its tolerable temperatures between 30ºC and -18ºC . Above 30 ºC, even short exposures to this sun and temperature can cause problems for you.

Watering the Japanese maple

This species needs a fairly regular watering . In the cold months it will be enough to water it every 48-72 hours, while in the warm months, the tree’s need for water could require up to 4 weekly waterings. As is usual with all plants, a potted Japanese maple will require more frequent waterings, as its root system is much less widespread.

Japanese maple: care and varieties - Watering the Japanese maple

Soil or substrate for Japanese maple

This is one of the most important points when it comes to knowing how to care for Japanese maple or red maple , since it needs slightly acidic substrates , with a pH between 4 and 6. For this, we can directly use a substrate prepared for acidophilic plants. . However, we can also prepare ours by mixing two parts of akadama for each part of kiryuzuna, which give rise to a light soil, with great drainage and good aeration .

If you plant your maple outdoors and you don’t want to have to add all the substrate around where the tree will go, you can acidify the soil yourself by regularly adding pine needles or iron sulfate, both with the ability to lower the pH. This method can work especially in calcareous soils, which otherwise have good properties.

Japanese maple: care and varieties - Soil or substrate for Japanese maple

Japanese maple pruning

This species does not need pruning in a vital way, but the tree will maintain a noticeably better appearance and health if we keep the growth of its branches organized and controlled through regular pruning , especially in cases where it has limited space.

It is recommended to always prune it in autumn or late winter , before it resumes its activity in spring. It is necessary to remove the branches in poor condition, as well as those that intersect or interfere with each other as they grow.

Acer palmatum fertilizer

It is only necessary during the warm months , being advisable to use a specific fertilizer for acidophilic plants , which will provide the necessary nutrients without altering the acidity balance of the soil. If fast-acting liquid fertilizers are used, it is recommended to alternate one month of supply with another without it.

Japanese maple: care and varieties - Acer palmatum fertilizer

Play Japanese Maple

This species can reproduce by seeds , which must spend three months in the refrigerator before being planted in the seedbed, giving rise to between one and two months of germination.

If you want faster reproduction, the Japanese maple cutting is also a very good option, thanks in this case for the contribution of rooting, which you can make at home organically and for very little money. 

The reproduction by layering and grafting is also very common among professionals and experts, although these techniques, despite its higher success rate, they are also more complex in its implementation.

Japanese maple varieties

The Japanese maple has three subspecies actually. The three main types of Japanese maple are Matsumure, Palmatum, and Amoenum. In addition, a huge variety of cultivars and varieties are obtained from them. These are some of the varieties of Japanese maple :

  • Atropurpureum
  • Bloodgood
  • Butterfly
  • Deshojo
  • Dissectum
  • Katsura
  • Little princess
  • Osakazuki
  • Sango kaku
  • Seiryu

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