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How to Water Your Japanese Maple

 How much water does your Japanese Maple need? Today Tim and Matt talk about how to water your Japanese Maple, how much water you should give your tree, if you should water your Japanese Maple over the winter, etc. 

General Watering 

The key for watering your Japanese Maples is to make sure you do not water too much. Japanese Maples do not like boggy or wet feet so it's always important to make sure whether you're in the ground or in a container that the tree has excellent drainage. The main thing that Japanese Maples do not like is constantly wet feet.

If you are growing your Japanese Maple in a container, make sure that there are good holes in the bottom of your container so that the water is not sitting and the soil does not become boggy. This will help your Japanese Maple to do better in the winter as well. 

For ground planted Japanese Maples, make sure that the hole you are planting in has good drainage. If you're putting water in the hole and it's standing water after a day, then you're definitely going to have to amend your soil because it may be holding too much water. 

How much water should I give my Japanese Maple?

The number one question we get about Japanese Maples is "How much water do I give my Japanese Maple?" That can be very different in a number of different environmental conditions. Someone in Texas may have to water very differently than someone in Oregon. The thing you want to do is water your Japanese Maple, then come back and stick your finger in the pot to test the dampness. See how long it takes for the water to drain out (maybe a day, maybe two), and when it starts to get dry, that's when you should water again. 

Watering in Winter

During the winter, you need to water your Japanese Maple a lot less than you would during the summer because the heat is what makes the tree dry out quicker. Make sure that you do the finger test to figure out how much your plant should be watered in the soil conditions of your environment. If you're going to store your Japanese Maple in an area where it doesn't receive natural water, you want to be conscious of the fact that the roots will often freeze dry and have harder times dealing with the extreme cold temperatures. 

If you are storing your Japanese Maple in a shed or garage, you will want to make sure to water the tree at least two to three times a month, saturating the soil and letting it go all the way through and then let it dry before watering it again. What you don't want to do is create soggy roots. One of the easiest ways for a Japanese Maple to get fungal infections such as pseudomonas is staying continuously soggy. 

Watering in Containers

Japanese Maples need more water in a container than they would in the ground. When a tree is in the ground, it has its roots and gets established and it'll take care of itself a lot easier than one in a container. Japanese Maples do great in containers, but when you're growing one in a container you want to remember that you are it's lifeline. You are the one providing the water for it to thrive. The tree cannot get established anywhere other than the pot, so you will have to water a tree that is in a container much more than you will a tree in the ground. Just keep in mind that when you're watering Japanese Maples in containers, they will need a lot more water in a container than they would naturally in the ground. 

One very important thing is to make sure you've got good drainage all the way through the pot. That includes gravel in the very bottom of the pot and leaving the pot raised up a little bit off the ground (you can do this with bricks). 

Do not plant your Japanese Maples in containers with trays underneath. Whenever you put huge amounts of pools of water underneath the Japanese Maples, that will cause boggy or wet feet. You definitely don't want to use those water trays underneath the Japanese Maple because that can cause a lot of issues (such as phytophthora or pseudomonas). 

One more thing to keep in mind is that Japanese Maples in full sun are going to require more water so that they're not burning and or getting leaf burn. Leaf scorch can look a lot like not watering enough, and typically that is actually indicative of getting too much water, so you want to be careful not to give it too much water. Too much and too little water can look very similar.

Watering in the Ground

When you're planting your garden, be conscious of not planting plants around your Japanese Maples that require more water than a Japanese Maple. You wouldn't want to have a particular type of plant that you're watering constantly because you're going to keep those roots of the Japanese Maple too soggy. The finger test is always a wonderful gauge of whether your Japanese Maple is too dry or too wet. 

A Japanese Maple that's established will require less water than a plant that's trying to get established. We will often go in and water the day we plant it then come back a few days later, water it again, then come back a few days later and water it again, and then a week later. What you want to do is have the tree get dry so that it's roots search out for water. When it does that, those roots expand and you're going to get a bigger tree out of this, and it's roots will be taking up water more efficiently. 

Also be conscious of your sun or shade for your environment. Japanese Maples in the sun are going to require a lot more water than one in the shade. If you have a shady area, you want to make sure that it's not staying too wet from overwatering. 

Whenever you have a watering system that's on a timer, making sure that the timer is set for the different seasons is a key thing. You want to make sure that the plant is actually drying out enough between watering cycles so that the plant can put its roots out and get established and take care of itself. 

So the key when you're watering a Japanese Maple is to saturate the root ball. What you want to do when you water is completely wet the root ball all the way through, then let that tree dry out completely before watering again. This process is essential to developing healthy roots and getting that tree established. The key process on that is letting the tree dry out throughout each step so that the phase where the tree is drying out, the roots are going in search of moisture. 

During the summer whenever you are fertilizing a Japanese Maple, or the early spring, you want to really make sure that you're watering the plant more frequently because the fertilizer can actually give a burn to the leaves if it's not getting enough water.

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