When and how to prune Japanese Maples
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When should you prune a Japanese Maple and how do you
go about it?
First let’s talk about when you should prune your
Japanese Maple tree. The ideal time to prune your
Japanese Maple trees is as soon as it needs pruning.
Right now all of the Japanese Maples in my landscape
are covered with beautiful new growth.
They are breathtaking!
But in two to three weeks many of them are going to
need a light pruning because they’ll have new branches
that have grown out of proportion to the rest of the
plant and in order to maintain symmetry with the trees
Pam or I will spend a few minutes on each tree removing
all of the branches that are growing outside of the
“vision” we have for the tree.
Mike, whaddya mean the “vision you have for the tree”?
For each of the Japanese Maple trees that we have in
our landscape we have a vision of how we want them to
look now, in 5 years and even in 10 or 20 years. Simply
picture in your mind what the ideal shape of your tree
would be, then prune away anything that is growing
outside of that shape. It really is that easy!
For instance, all of the weeping Japanese Maples in
our landscape we want them to resemble the shape of a
large umbrella. So as we prune we picture that shape
in our mind, then remove any growth outside of that
The upright, non weeping, Japanese Maples we want
those in an “upright vase shape”. We don’t want them
really tall because most are close to the house and the
beauty of the trees is their very interesting foliage
so we keep them trimmed to a height of five feet or less.
When they are small we trim them at least two or three
times a year to make them nice and full, then as they
grow the head of the tree will be dense and provide a
beautiful display of color and magic that only a
Japanese Maple can provide.
More about when to trim Japanese Maples. My answer is
anytime they need it. Most of mine need some pruning
in July, then again a light pruning in the fall. Come
early spring if they have a stray branch here or there
we remove it as soon as we see it. If you don’t the
tree puts on new growth on that branch, then when you
trim, you lose all of that beautiful new growth.
But, but, but! You must trim your Japanese Maples!
If you don’t, they get straggly and not that attractive.
Please don’t be afraid to prune them. They’ll love
you for it.
Am I passionate about Japanese Maples?
Sure am! But then again I’m passionate about all
plants. People too. I tend to like people as well.
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kevin ryan says
I have a japanese maple that’s trunk has no leaves on top half of the tree and appears dead. How far back is it ok to prune it back.
Cut it back to the point where the tissue below the stem is green. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
I would like a orange weeping japanese maple seedling. I hope to get one and would like your recommendation on where to get one. I live in Northern Michigan near the zones five and six. Thanks.