Maple (Japanese) Growing Guide

Acer palmatum

Maple (Japanese)

Crop Rotation Group



Moist, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH.


Full sun to part shade.

Frost tolerant

Most Japanese maples are quite cold hardy, tolerating winter -20°F (-29°C).


None generally needed for trees grown in the ground. Feed plants in containers in late spring and again in midsummer with a balanced organic fertilizer.


Single Plants: 6' 6" (2.00m) each way (minimum)
Rows: 6' 6" (2.00m) with 6' 6" (2.00m) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Japanese maples do not breed true from seed, so the best way to get a plant with the size, shape and leaf type you want is to start with a purchased plant. Set out purchased plants when they become available starting in spring and continuing to early summer. Shopping for plants after they have leafed out makes it easier to choose a favorite. Many fancy cultivars are grafted onto vigorous rootstocks, so take care not to set them too deep in the planting hole. Water young trees regularly their first season, and cover the root zone with an organic mulch to keep the soil moist at all times. Japanese maples become more drought tolerant after the plants are well rooted. Japanese maples are usually used as strong accent plants in the landscape, and often are planted in combination with smaller shrubs and perennials. Check plant tags for the mature size of the plant, which can vary from 6 to 20 feet (2 to 6 m) tall and wide. Many dwarf Japanese maples can be grown in 14-inch (35 cm) or larger pots. They are a popular choice for outdoor bonsai.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Sophisticated Japanese maples come in a range of colors and shapes, and leaf type also varies with cultivar. Red-leafed varieties are popular for the contrast they bring to the landscape, though the same can be said for Japanese maples with finely cut green or red-tinged leaves. Regardless of summer leaf color, Japanese maples turn red or bright yellow in autumn. It is the ideal small tree to plant near entryways, or to feature in a small landscape.


Cut stems make interesting additions to any vase, especially when combined with flowers and evergreens. Japanese maples are not fast growers, and each cultivar has a distinctive shape and size. Prune only to shape young plants and to remove broken or dead branches.


Japanese maples have few pest problems. Protect young plants from browsing by deer.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Maple (Japanese)