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How to care for Acers / Japanese Maple

Acers, also known as Japanese Maples, are live-growing plants with varying appearances throughout the year, often leading to questions about their care. In this comprehensive care guide, we aim to address common queries and provide instructions for planting and maintaining Acer trees. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, this guide will help you ensure the health and vitality of your Acers.

Acer Palmatum Dissectum Firecracker – Japanese Maple

Basic Information about Japanese Maples

Japanese Maples, scientifically known as Acer palmatum, are generally compact trees with a wide range of varieties. The colourisation of these trees can vary depending on factors such as soil composition, feeding regimen, and their position in the garden. With an average height of 1.5-2.5m (5-8ft) in 10-15 years, Acers can be easily maintained at smaller heights through seasonal pruning. These trees are ideal for small gardens or Japanese-style landscapes.

Planting Conditions

  • When to Plant: It is recommended to plant Japanese Maples in early spring or autumn for optimal results.
  • Soil Conditions: Acers thrive in any non-waterlogged soil, but for best results, consider using sandy, slightly acidic soil.
  • Light Requirements: Japanese Maples prefer full sun to partial shade. When selecting a location, choose a sheltered area that protects from extreme weather conditions.
  • Garden Shade Assessment: If you’re unsure about the level of shade in your garden, refer to our “plants for shaded gardens” guide to determine the most suitable options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my Maples taller/shorter than expected?

Japanese Maples can vary in height throughout the year due to seasonal changes. Pruning techniques may also contribute to the overall height. Rest assured that your trees are likely pruned to promote shape and encourage new growth. With proper feeding and watering, they will grow quickly.

What should I do with the dead leaves on the soil and falling from the plants?

Shedding older foliage is a natural process for Acer plants, especially at the end of the growing season. Collect the dead leaves and add them to your compost heap or green waste recycling. Come spring, your tree will burst back into life.

Some leaves have brown tips. Is my plant dying?

“The presence of brown tips on leaves is usually caused by weather conditions and the positioning of your trees. Japanese Maples prefer partial shade, particularly when young, to enhance leaf colouration and prevent scorching in hot summer months. Insufficient watering can also contribute to browning. Consider repositioning your tree to avoid this issue,” says Chris Bonnett, founder of Gardening Express.

Can I grow my Acer Trees indoors?

No, it is not recommended to grow Japanese Maples indoors. They are fully hardy and require outdoor conditions to thrive, including an adequate amount of daylight.

Can I keep my Maples in the provided pots?

The pots provided with your trees are suitable for transit and short-term growth only. It is important to plant your trees in larger containers or directly into the garden as soon as possible. While they can be temporarily kept in pots for a few weeks, ensure they never dry out and provide proper feeding. Prolonged growth in pots can restrict the plant’s overall development.

My Acer tree has been flexed over in the box. Will this damage it?

Flexing or bending Acer trees during transportation is a common practice that helps minimise movement in cartons. This procedure is done with flexible, softer new shoots to ensure the tree’s safety. If any shoots are damaged during shipping, simply trim them off to allow new growth to replace them.

Consider these varieties for growing Japanese Maples in containers:

Download Acers Care Guides

For further guidance on caring for your Acers, we have prepared two care guides: the In-depth Acer Care Guide and the Simplified Acer Care Guide. Download these resources to access detailed instructions tailored to your needs.


Caring for Acers, or Japanese Maples, requires attention to planting conditions, regular maintenance, and understanding the natural behaviours of these trees. By following the guidelines provided in this comprehensive care guide, you can ensure the health and longevity of your Acers, enjoying their beauty throughout the seasons. Start your journey with Japanese Maples today by exploring our selection in the shop.

Updated on July 19, 2023

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