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How to Care for Japanese Maple Bonsai - Acer palmatum and varieties

Larry Morton

Posted on February 08 2019

How to Care for Japanese Maple Bonsai - Acer palmatum and varieties

Your Japanese Maple Bonsai

Japanese Maple Bonsai are relatively fast growing when placed in half shade to full sun. The red color of the red leaf varieties usually fades with summer temperatures, excessive shade and with age. The red chemical in the a reddish leaf acts as a sunscreen and an antitranspirant. The red chemical overpowers the level of green chloroplasts. That means red varieties generally requires less water than other green varieties but are prone to leaf scorch. No serious pests. However, consistently soaked roots are prone to disease development seen in dead top branches late spring. If the new spring growth dies back your tree may have Verticillium wilt or Anthracnose. Prune back to a node below the infected area. This species can suffer from excessive drying winds and substrate. As with all maples, the root system thrives in a cool, moist substrate high in organic matter.  Several flushes of growth each growing season can be sheared back each time leaving ramification and shorter internodes. Defoliation is terrible horticulture due to the excessive unnecessary stresses to any healthy plant. Excessive infrequent pruning also will devitalize your bonsai. Selectively thin out vigorous top branches. Thin other congested nodes. Use directional pruning and bud selection. You can preserve deadwood hollows with wood hardeners. There's no need to drill a hole through the bottom of the hollow to the soil to drain water since rotting diseases live in damp wood, not in standing water. Protect from excessive winds and temperature changes.

    • The natural growth habit of older trees can become spherical with strong, irregular, ascending to horizontal branches and a wide open crown. Flat foliage pads or "clouds" are never seen in nature on a deciduous tree.
    • Best as a specimen or clump grouping
    • Leaf size reduces well in pot
    • Propagate from summer cuttings, wounded and treated with a high rooting hormone compound. Use supplemental light for a couple months until rooted. Then allow the rooted cuttings to establish over winter before transplanting. 'Arakawa', usually grafted, is one of the easiest varieties to root from cuttings.
    • Japanese Maples are well with the effort for a beginner bonsai tree.

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