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What Soil should I use for my Japanese Maple?

In this Episode of the MrMaple Show, Tim and Matt will be discussing what type of soil you should use when planting your Japanese Maples.

Soil for Japanese Maples

One of the most important things to remember is that Japanese maples do not like wet feet. This means that heavily boggy areas will need raised beds that allow drainage for the Japanese maple roots. This can simply be done by raising the area where you will be planting the Japanese maple with more soil. People often ask where or not they should condition their soil for the Japanese maple. For the most part, you shouldn't. Japanese maples can do well in both sandy soils and clay soils. When you amend the soil they have to get established in your amendments and then get established in the exterior soil.

Japanese Maples are adaptable to almost any soils. The key things about Japanese Maples is they want to have really good drainage, so if you're planting them out in the ground, if the soil is very compacted and it's holding a lot of water, you will want to go in and amend the soil. Japanese Maples are very adaptable, so there's not a lot of amending to be done unless you need to make a soil less compacted and to add drainage. 

The most common soil myth is that you need to add a bunch of stuff to your soil to get plants to grow in it. God created the soil better than we can buy in stores most of the time, and it's been a proven fact that most of the stuff you're buying in garden centers has less nutrients in it than the soil that's already there. It's important to make sure that you're not just amending the soil for no reason because what will happen is the plant will take time to get established into whatever your soil amendment is, then years down the road it might actually be slowing the plant down. If your soil has good drainage and is not compacted dirt, there's no reason to amend the soil whenever you're planting a Japanese Maple. You can use your native soil and that'll be one of the things that has the most micronutrients for it and is going to help the Japanese Maple to thrive and do well for you. 

What you should use:

Some people plant their trees in containers, and here at Mr. Maple we use a very light and fluffy soil texture that is an 80% pine bark, 15% peat, and 5% perlite mix. We also add different nutrients such as a Micro Max to add 32 essential micronutrients which help the plant to thrive. Something comparable would be a MiracleGro mix that you would get in the store, most of the pine bark mixes are fantastic for containers and are an easy soil to grow Japanese Maples in, as well as being readily available. 

What you should avoid using:

You definitely want to avoid soils that are high in nitrogen. This could be something that has large amounts of cow manure in it, as well as something that has fertilizer in it. If you use one of those fertilizers going into the fall, the plant may not shut down going into the winter and you can get damage on your Japanese Maple from being too active during the winter months. The best time to fertilize anything is in the spring. 

Why is soil so important?

A healthy tree starts with healthy roots. By having a Japanese Maple in healthy soil with good drainage and when it's not compacted, the roots can set out and get established, therefore making your tree healthier. The healthier your tree, the more it will thrive and do well for you in the landscape or in a container. Japanese Maples are very easy to grow and very adaptable to most soils, but the key thing is good drainage.

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