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How To Water Your Japanese Maple?

 How To Water Your Japanese Maple

 

In this Episode of the MrMaple Show, 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. 

 

 

 

Additional tags: How to Water your Japanese Maple, watering plants, Japanese Maple, MrMaple Show

We only ship Japanese maples within the continental United States of America.

When you buy a Japanese maple from MrMaple.com, due to the high volume during the COVID-19 situation, your order of Japanese maple trees will be shipped out within 2 weeks. We greatly appreciate your understanding during these times.

We have custom boxes that extra thick and allow for the safest shipment of your Japanese maples. Our new custom boxes allow us to ship your Japanese maple trees in their container, making the smoothest transition from our nursery to your garden. These boxes can fit two Japanese maples easily inside each box. You will simply need a pair of scissors to cut the tape around the box and pull your Japanese maple out.

Location is something that should be considered. Nearly all Japanese maples can handle growing in the shade or getting morning sun and afternoon shade. For planting trees in the sun it is important to make sure you are getting a selection that can handle full sun in your area. We have plenty of Japanese maples that grow and do well in full sun in Zone 8. When you get to zone 9, many of the Japanese maples should be planted with protection from the hot afternoon sun. There are a few maples we carry that can handle full sun in zone 9.

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.

The hole should be dug 1.5 times bigger than than container the Japanese maple is in. This extra size is primarily to losen the soil for the roots of your Japanese maple which will allow for it to get established quicker. Take the Japanese maple out of the container and place it in the hole. The main thing to remember when planting a Japanese maple is that it should be planted level with where the soil level was in the container. This is important as Japanese maples planted too deeply do not perform well in the landscape. This means that you will have to put part of the soil that you already dug back into the hole before planting.

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 ammend the soil they have to get established in your ammendments and then get established in the exterior soil.

Japanese maples have a non-invasive root system that makes them ideal for container growing and bonsai culture. This will allow you to bring the ornamental appeal of Japanese maple to your deck, patio, poolside, and driveway expanding your garden. The concept of how big a Japanese maple will get in a container is similar to that of how big a goldfish will get inside a bowl. A Japanese maple will grow the size container it is put in. A small container will dwarf the size of the tree from the size the tree would naturally be in the landscape. Dwarf Japanese maples are often used in containers because they get fairly close to full-size in most containers. The best tip for container growing is a well-drained pot.

Steps:

1. Choose your Japanese maple based on the location you plan on growing your container grown maple (ex. Sun or shade?).

2. Select the container you would like to use. The primary thing to look for is good drainage. You may be able to drill extra holes in non-ceramic containers. At least one drain hole is necessary. For containers with only one drain hole, you may consider lining the bottom of the container with 1-2 inches of medium sized gravel to increase drainage.

3. Soil should be selected based on how frequently you plan on watering the plant. For Japanese maples that will be regularly watered by an irrigation system, a soil with more perlite is ideal. An example of this would be a regular bag of miracle grow mix. For maples that will not be on a regular irrigation system, make sure to add more peat moss to the mixture. This will allow for the maple itself to retain a higher amount of moisture. When adding the soil to the container make sure to keep the root collar and trunk of the Maple at the same level it was in it’s previous container. It is also good to leave at least 1/2 inch to 2 inches of the top lip of the container free from soil. This allows for the maple to be watered effectively.

4. Select a companion plant such as small sedums that can cover the soil-surface to reduce heat and moisture loss for the roots of the maple. When choosing a companion plant it is essential to use only plants with extremely shallow and tiny root systems that will not grow into the roots of the maple.

5. Water frequently based on the finger test. If the soil around your Japanese maple feels dry, water.

6. For small containers (smaller than a nursery 3 gallon) check the root system of your Japanese maple during the winter every 3 years. If the root ball is getting very thick, trim the root system leaving 3/4 of the root system. Add soil as necessary. For larger containers, you can go much longer without root pruning the roots of your Japanese maple. We suggest checking every 7-8 years. For those that do not want to root prune, you can always upgrade your Japanese maple to a larger pot size or put the tree in the landscape, however, with a few minutes of root pruning every few years a Japanese maple can stay in any pot for its entire life.

*Japanese maples that have been stressed should be given Super Thrive at recommended doses from the bottle. This can often be purchased at Wal-Mart or your local garden center or department store. This simply gives Japanese maples the proper nutrients and hormones that will help it heal and recover and help it get back into a growing mode.

Japanese maples are extremely easy to care for. The less you do the better. Japanese maples do not like a lot of nitrogen so fertilizers are not necessary. Fertilizers with low amounts of nitrogen can be used in the early spring and mid-summer, however it is not necessary.

Trimming your Japanese maple can actually make your tree grow faster. If you trim the smaller branches back leaving larger and thicker branching with buds, your tree will often grow very quickly. This is because you get a cleaner flow or nutrients from Japanese maples that have been trimmed. It is like excersing your Japanese maples. It is best to do this in the early spring right before your Japanese maple leafs out. This is typically around the late February to early March time period for us in North Carolina. The main trick for trimming is to never trim more than 45% of your tree off. Yes, that means you can trim a Japanese maple heavily. Remember to clean your pruning tools with rubbing alcohol. This helps keep your pruning tools sanitized which helps your Japanese maple stay healthy.

Steps for Pruning:

1. Start out by pruning out branches you don't like on your Japanese maple. If the branch is larger than 3/4 of an inch in diameter we recommend using a saw. Large branches you don't like only get bigger so it is best to prune them out early in the tree's life.

2. Prune out the twiggier smaller branching. Smaller branching only makes smaller branching. This means these will make the tree grow slower. By pruning your Japanese maple and leaving the large branching you will get a larger tree quicker.

3. Trim out conflicting branching on your Japanese maple. This means if two limbs are touching are are too close, one of them should be trimmed out. A lot of pruning is judgement calls. Picking which one stays and which one goes will be a judgement call that only the owner or the pruner can make.

4. If you are trimming an upright selection, make sure to keep one branch as a central leader. This is typically the tallest part of the tree on most upright Japanese maples. If you are trimming a dwarf or a laceleaf Japanese maple, you can trim the Japanese maple to accentuate the natural shape of the tree. This can be done with laceleaf types by trimming your Japanese maple to create different levels of branching.

5. Trim out the fishtails. When there are three small branches coming out of the terminal buds on the end of a branch, it is often good to trim out the middle branch. This gives room for the other two branches and allows them have more energy.

While trimming is not necessary, if you follow these steps, your Japanese maple should grow much quicker for you.

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