How to Grow a Japanese Maple Tree in a Pot

Best Time for Planting a Japanese Maple Tree

The best time to plant your Japanese maples is autumn. But even if you run late, do not worry because your tree will patiently wait to begin growing until spring.

Requirements for Growing Japanese Maple Trees in Pots


Ideally, morning sunlight with shade from the intense heat during the afternoons is ideal for Japanese maple trees when they are small and growing. Once they attain a height of 2-3 feet, place it by a South or West facing spot that receives full, bright sun for at least 6-8 hours every day.


It is best to grow Japanese maple in a well-drained, sandy loamy, fine-medium textured soil with a low-medium organic matter amount. Make sure the soil is not highly alkaline as they can perfectly grow in neutral, acidic, and even slight alkaline pH levels.


Unlike trees planted in the ground, when grown in containers, they do no have the advantage of insulation. During warmer climates, you need to water your container maples more. Do not overwater your potted plants to avoid any root rot or mildew issues. It is best to touch the topsoil to feel when the plant needs watering.


Japanese maples grow best in USDA zones 5-9 and also grow in warmer and colder places with the right care. A well-grown maple tree can tolerate 0°F or -17°C on its exposed parts and the roots can withstand 14°F or -10°C.

Japanese Maple Tree Care

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After planting your maple tree, wait for at least until its second growing season before you fertilize it. This will give the tree enough time to adapt to the new growing condition. Use a balanced fertilizer once in 5-7 weeks. Do refer to the label for instructions.

You can also choose to add natural fertilizers such as coffee grounds, epsom salt to give that much-needed boost to your growing tree.


The best time recommended to prune and pinch your lovely maples is during the winter when the tree is dormant and wait until late spring after the leaves start to grow. The smaller and the dwarf varieties of Japanese maple can grow up to 6-12 inches every year but you can manage to keep them compact and shorter with yearly pruning.

Start pruning back branches that grow towards the inside of the tree, or rub against others. If you notice any dead or damaged wood, cut it off. Watch out for branches that appear long, thin, and spindly in comparison to the other branches and once you spot them, cut them off from the base.

Pests and Diseases

The most common pests to attack Japanese Maples are the Japanese beetles. Other bugs that you need to watch out for are scale, mites, cottony maple, oleander, cottony camellia, cottony taxus, and mealybugs. You can get rid of them using an insecticidal soap solution.

Some of the diseases that can also damage your beauties by disfiguring the beautiful leaves and early defoliation are Phyllosticta leaf spot, Pseudomonas tip blight, and anthracnose. Adding a 2-3 inches layer of mulch, taking proper care of the watering, fertilizing, and pruning it properly can help prevent the diseases.

Best Japanese Maple Bonsai Varieties

1. Deshojo

In spring, this bonsai plant has very deep crimson-colored buds with tender leaves, and they turn green in summer.

2. Arakawa

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This variety has become a rare type in the recent years. With its rough bark, it adds impact to a bonsai plant.

3. Shishigashira

One of the slow-growing Bonsai variety with wavy leaves, shorter, and stronger shoots.

4. Katsura

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It makes for another interesting Bonsai to grow indoors because of its orange young leaves in the spring and fall that turns green in the summer.

5. Atropurpureum

With a beautiful purple-red, deeply lobed foliage in spring and summer and bright crimson red-colored one in the fall, it makes for an interesting plant to have.

6. Seigen

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Another rarely found cultivar with tiny, finely pinnate, scarlet-red leaves, makes for a very delicate yet beautiful bonsai.

7. Kiyohime

The name means ‘little princess’ and the way it grows, it is known to be one of the best showstoppers of all bonsai plants.

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