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Japanese Maple requirements.....?

 
 
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 04:44 pm
My neighbor just stopped by --- he noticed that we were putting stuff in our backyard and he said that he is taking stuff out of his backyard so he offered us this huge, beautiful, mature Japanese maple tree.

I don't know anything about the care and feeding of such a tree.

Help?

Thanks!
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Type: Question • Score: 5 • Views: 2,916 • Replies: 18
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 05:11 pm
@boomerang,
Is the tree in a container or will you transplant it Boomer?

Japanese Maples are slow growing, pretty shallow rooted, and therefore need regular watering regardless--they don't need a lot of feeding--maybe a good tree food application once a year. Pretty low maintenance actually.

If you are transplanting, they like an acidic soil. If Dogwoods, rhododendrums, etc. do well in your area, the Japanese Maple will too. Do make the planting area wide enough for a water well and heavy mulch that will help keep it from either drying out or becoming too water logged and also protect from winter freeze. Don't put the mulch right up against the trunk though. You'll need to water frequently for the first year or two until the roots are well established and then every couple of weeks or so thereafter.

Color quality can vary but the Japanese Maple is a lovely tree.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 05:16 pm
@boomerang,
I have a Japanese maple in my back yard that I water frequently. I also cut back the branches during the winter (dormant) months, because they grow so quickly. If you really want to get artsy with the tree, you can form the branches with wires, and it it some shape like you see in the Japanese gardens.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 05:38 pm
Thank you both for your advice!

It isn't in a container -- it took four grown men 30 minutes to haul this tree, placed on some special tree moving carrying device, two doors down. Mr. B was one of those men -- he said the tree weighs at least 500 pounds. It's a big tree.

I have no idea if my soil is acidic or not. How do I test for that? I live in Oregon so watering pretty much takes care of itself. Everything grows here without much effort. I was never able to grow anything until I moved here. Now I just spit out a seed and it turns into a plant.

It does need some pruning so thanks for that tip! It sounds like this should be a good time to prune. I love those maples that make a little teepee type shape underneath so I'm going to try to prune for that shape.

My backyard is very shady and that worries me. It is dominated by a a 40 foot ornamental cherry and two gigantic river birches. I hope this tree does okay in the shade.

I'm so excited about my new free tree!
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 05:43 pm
@boomerang,
They do well in at least partial shade--in fact it is recommended--but they don't like competition from other strong species so do try to find a spot as far away from the other trees as reasonable. Probably your soil is fine. Again if rhododendrums and azaleas grow well there, and it has apparently been doing great in the neighbor's yard, your Japanese Maple will do fine. But golly, that is a huge tree to transplant. Just prepare an area big enough so you can get water to the tree and again get some good pine bark mulch or something similar to mulch it well.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 05:50 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Folks, boom lives in Portland, land of drizzle and rain. Not unlike japan.. or some parts of japan.

I've had two japanese maples back in Venice grow to good height and form from small cans, and, yikes, a new owner yanked one out and put in a banana (musa). <Watches years of cool pruning and care just yanked...> kills me to think about, not that I cringe re all tree removal.

Acer palmatums (hmm, palmata?) come in many varieties. I hope you look up which variety yours will be and how to take care of it, possibly consulting the japanese garden folks there in Portland, or at least the sunset western garden book. Fox is right, they are shallow rooted, which is a care-indicator. Back in west LA there was a nursery named Yamaguchi's. They really knew their beans about acer palmatums and would talk with you about their care...

As long as you are getting this tree, check out photos online of gardens with them. Some are traditional, some fairly modern.. placement will vary. In LA, where they don't really belong, placement was crucial. In Portland, there may be some wiggle room. Ask local experts.

Remembering.. they like shelter from wind.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 06:03 pm
@boomerang,
An acer palmatum will be fine in shade and your soil will be fine, I betcha a full bippie..

Call the arboretum/japanese garden and ask to talk with the arborist re feet from another big tree. My two were fine with liquidambars around them, but they might have had future trouble decades hence.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 06:07 pm
@ossobuco,
The UCLA Botanical Garden -- *trying to think of the woman it was named after, I got to do an LA arboretum walk with her and two other people once -- had a tall ebulliant japanese maple in virtual total shade .. (I want to call her Mildred Mathias, but not sure.)
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 06:09 pm
@ossobuco,
I think both Blatham and Dyslexia have mentioned separately liking the portland japanese garden...
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 12:37 am
@boomerang,
Congratulations, boomer! Japanese Maples are great trees! Does yours have red leaves or green? (The red-leaf varieties need at least a half day of sun or the leaves will stay green. But both types can take shade.) Like any newly-planted tree, water it well every single day for the first month or so...rain isn't enough until the roots are well established in the new location.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 06:55 am
Thanks all!

The Japanese garden here is really wonderful.

My backyard is pretty featureless at this point. We have the three big trees and just put in a patio but that is all that's back there. We are thinking of adding a pool somewhere down the road so I have to take that into consideration when deciding where to plant the tree. We don't have anything medium sized back there so this will be a nice focal point.

We're moving into our soggy season where we get some nice rain on a nearly daily basis. In parts of the yard the soil is good from years of overgrowth and neglect -- I guess it self composted all the dead leaves, etc., that fell on it for the last 20 years. Other parts of the yard are not so good, hard dirt and tree roots mostly. I don't think there is much I can do about windiness.

It has green leaves. Maybe I will get a photo of it today and see if you all can help me identify what kind it is.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 07:23 am
@boomerang,
Congrats on the free tree!

Reading along and learning, myself. I have one that I like a lot but it hasn't looked so happy lately. I thought it had more to do with the early frost we had for a couple years in a row, reading though I don't think I'm watering it enough. (I really dislike watering stuff in my garden -- keep trying to go more hardy. Maybe I need to move to Portland. Smile )

Plus I haven't given it any fertilizer/ food, as Foxfyre mentions. Should I?

It's about 7 feet tall and maybe 10 feet wide.
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 08:15 am
@boomerang,
Lucky you, Bomerang. I love Japanese Maples and had several when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. I wish I could plant some in Albuqueque but they don't do well here from the heat, wind and lack of acid soil. They don't tolerate wind and should be planted in a wind-protected area. Wind burns the hell out of their leaves. Good luck!

BBB
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 08:56 am
@sozobe,
When I had a Japanese Maple--I can't remember which kind but it was a red one--I believe I used a product called liquid Sequestrene to feed the tree twice a year though some say once a year is plenty. It adds a bit of acidity to the soil which these trees love and which was needed in Kansas. I'm rememering that high nitrogen concentrations are not recommended for Japanese Maple but they do need feeding, though not frequently.

The neighbor had a beautiful Japanese maple that died when it came into contact with black walnut roots--as I said the Japanese Maple does not like competition from strong neighbors.

Japanese Maples love water and do not do well if they are under watered. Boomer will need to water her transplanted tree several times a week at least for the next year or so until the roots are firmly established.

Soz, if your tree is not doing well I would suspect under watering as a definite factor. Be sure it is well mulched especially around the perimeter during the winter--Ohio has cold winters, yes? (Don't bank the mulch against the trunk though.)

Cut any wilted, dying, dead branches from the tree.

Also look for insects and parasites. Japanese Maples are especially susceptible to aphids, nematodes, and spider mites, all of which can be controlled with a mild insecticide.

This makes it sound like Japanese Maples are fragile, but they really are a pretty hardy, low maintenance tree.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 07:41 pm
@boomerang,
Boom...I know Portland gets plenty of rain, but there's a problem with relying on rain for newly planted trees. Rain usually doesn't get deep enough into the soil for the bottom roots...especially on medium and large trees. You need to soak it regularly...long, steady watering...to minimize transplant shock.

Once the tree is established, I'm sure Portland's rain will be plenty.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 08:22 pm
@Eva,
It's going to have to be not too big a baby because I'm leaving town next week and frankly, the dang thing is going to be lucky to be planted. I spent today digging a crater in my yard to put it in. I am so tired. At least the ground was soggy and easy to dig.

I just have a few days to add some drainage, add some muck, add some soil, wrestle the thing into the hole, add some more soil and kiss it goodbye for a week.

Long and steady is how it rains here. It rains softly for hours and hours so things get pretty saturated.

The tree will either survive or not while I'm out of town. There isn't anything I can do about it other than try to get it in the ground and hope for the best.

littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 09:05 pm
@boomerang,
If you're putting all that work into planting the thing, give it a good watering before you go - for your own sake. Slow trickle for 2 hours ought to be ok. And then the same when you return. Consider having someone come midway through your absence to water again.
0 Replies
 
markdolan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2009 10:38 am
@Foxfyre,
I have a huge mature Japanese maple in the backyard of the property I bought two years ago. Easily 30 feet high. I built a house right up next to it. I made every effort to protect it's root system during construction but I know it endured stress as a result. I also have been aggressively pruning it back in the late winter to try and keep it off the house.
This year, the leaves are smaller, not as red and the leave growth seems thinner all throughout the tree. Can you recommend a strategy of care for this grand ole tree? I'd hate to loose it.

Thanks
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2009 05:02 pm
@markdolan,
Sadly, once a Japanese maple begins to go, they tend to go, but they are pretty hardy. Your tree might need feeding. See if your local nursery has a product called liquid sequestrene and read directions carefully or ask their recommndation of what to feed your particular tree. Be sure your tree is getting plenty of water. Japanese maples are definitely not drought resistant trees. They don't like severe pruning and if you must cut it back severely, be sure to use a sealant on the cut end of the branches or they can get really sick.

Best time for light pruning is late summer - winter is your next best choice. Don't do any pruning in the spring when the sap is rising.

I think your tree isn't too big. I've seen them grow to 40 or 50 feet which is probably tops so your tree probably isn't dying of old age or anything.
0 Replies
 
 

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