Why would I Write a Blog Posting about Ruining a Japanese Maple?
Because people do it all the time unintentionally. Here’s the deal; “You only know what you know.” That includes me.
So my job here is to make sure that all of my followers/subscribers learn things that I know and they may not.
Contrary to what many people think Japanese maples are actually quite easy to grow and care for. They can be expensive and they grow slowly, but all in all, they are pretty easy guests to have around the house.
And pretty too! And if you know a few simple things about Japanese maples in general, you’ll know how to keep them looking fantastic and running at full speed.
The things you need to know about Japanese maple trees.
Most, but not all, Japanese Maples are Grafted.
That means that the beautiful tree that you are enjoying in your yard is actually growing on the roots of a more generic but extremely hardy Japanese maple.
You need to know that because often times suckers grow from the rootstock and those suckers need to be removed as soon as they appear because they are very different from the plant you bought.
If you allow them to grow they will overtake your beautiful plant and completely ruin its appearance.
The best way to remove suckers and low branches that you don’t want on your Japanese maple is a technique that I call “One Finger Pruning” and you really do only use one finger and it is extremely effective. To learn more about “One Finger Pruning Click Here”.
Garden Fertilizer Kills Japanese Maples and other Plants.
It’s true. The typical garden fertilizer that you buy for your veggie garden will take out ornamental plants like nobody’s business.
If you plant to use regular garden fertilizer on your Japanese maple you might as well write “Serial Killer” on the bag.
Why? Fertilizer is supposed to be a good thing, why would it kill my plants?
Garden fertilizers are designed to be immediate release. A bag of 14-14-14 garden fertilizer contains 14% Nitrogen, 14% Phosphorous and 14% potassium.
And as soon as you apply it and it gets wet, bam! All 14% of that nitrogen is released immediately.
Nitrogen drives top growth, vegetative growth, on plants. Most ornamental plants physically cannot grow fast enough to use that much nitrogen and the overload of nitrogen will kill them almost immediately.
What Should I Use to Fertilize My Japanese Maple?
What a Japanese maple really needs is good rich soil that contains a significant amount of organic matter. Really good topsoil is just that, organic matter.
That’s what made it topsoil. For years and years vegetation falls to the earth and rots and becomes topsoil. That’s what all plants, especially Japanese maples need.
But not all of us have good soil in our yards so what do we do. Fertilizer with something organic like fish emulsion fertilizer, Millorganite, or another organic fertilizer.
Keep in mind, Millorganite is good for your ornamental plants but not your vegetable garden because it’s made from sewage sludge.
When installing new plants, especially Japanese maples, mix some rotted (bagged) cow manure with the soil as you back fill around the plants.
Please don’t Bury Me Alive!
A little dramatic I know, but I did that because I want you to know how serious of a problem this is.
Like me and you, plants breath through their roots and they need to be able to transfer oxygen through the soil to the root system.
That’s why it’s really important that you never install a plant too deep in the ground.
The top of the root ball should be about 1″ above the grade of the planting bed then mound about an inch of soil over that and about 2″ of mulch over that.
That allows the plant to breathe. If you put something in the ground too deep, there’s a really good chance that it will die.
Japanese Maples Don’t Like Wet Feet!
Water is good, right? But too much water is not good. Like you and I, plants need some water to survive, but water is not a magic potion that will make them grow to the moon fast.
Too much water, wet heavy soil, standing water will absolutely kill almost any ornamental plant. But this is really, really true for things like Japanese maples and Rhododendrons.
These two animals like it high and on the dry side. Not bone dry, but definitely not sopping wet. When the ground is too wet the roots cannot breathe. Remember, they need oxygen.
The soil should be moist and cool to the touch, not soggy. If you want, you can buy a moisture meter at the garden store.
Japanese Maples Need to Be Loved and Admired.
They really do. Think about it. These beautiful plants did not accidentally fall into the hands of a capable plant propagator without reason.
They were meant to be cloned and shared to beautify the planet. So don’t over care for them. Just give them what they need and admire them.
That’s what I do! I stare at mine admiring their beauty and the intricacy of their design for hours on end.
Help! We have a Shortage of Beautiful Japanese Maples. You should be the Person making Sure the People Who Live Near You can Buy these Beautiful Plants at a Fair Price!
Questions? Comments? Speak your mind below!