How to Grow Japanese Maple in Pots

How to Grow Japanese Maple in potsWelcome to today’s gardening article about how to grow Japanese Maple in Pots. Previously, I have written an article describing how to design a meditation garden.  For my specific garden, I have chose Japanese Maples due to their beautiful foliage during the autumn months.  The problem that I run into on my property is the fact that my septic lines run sporadically through my property.  With that being said, I am somewhat limited into plants that do not root very deep.  Luckily, Japanese Maples are perfect to be utilized in containers. However, there are a few things to keep in mind, when growing Japanese Maples in pots.


Choosing your Japanese Maple

First, and foremost, you need to pick out the right cultivar.  For any tree that you plan to grow in a container, you need to pick dwarf varieties.  In the case of Japanese Maples, the dwarf varieties only grow to around 10 ft tall.  They are slow growers and have a fibrous root system.  When researching the cultivar that you would like to use, be sure to look around at multiple nurseries and online.  There are many different kinds with all kinds of variation in leaf shapes, colors, etc.  You will undoubtedly find your perfect tree.

Preparing your Pot

When choosing a container, you will want a container that has drainage holes. It’s quite important that the soil has adequate drainage, otherwise you might encounter root rot.  There are all kinds of containers that you might use, but if you plan on moving the Japanese maple often, then you may consider placing it on rollers as well.  You will want a container that is about twice the size of the root ball of the tree.

In the bottom of your container, place a layer of crushed rock in the bottom. This will help assist with drainage. In regards to the soil, regular pre-mix soils usually won’t perform well. It’s suggested that you mix, 2 parts topsoil, 2 parts organic material (compost), and 2 parts perlite or sand.  

Another consideration would be where to place the container when the tree is planted.  Most cultivars are rated between USDA zones 5-8.  You might be able to grow one outside of these zones, but you would have to definitely take these factors into consideration when choosing a spot to grow your tree at.  Although Japanese Maples can tolerate full sun,  they tend to do better with partial shade with either morning or evening sun.

Caring for your new tree

Japanese Maples will require regular watering.  Once the tree starts to grow larger, it will need to be repotted every couple of years. After the tree starts to become fully sized, you will want to prune the roots when repotting. You can do this by cutting away the bigger woodier roots. These function only to anchor the tree and not to absorb water or nutrients. By pruning the roots, it encourages the tree to send out the smaller fibrous roots.

When fertilizing the maple, you will want to using any fertilizer sparingly by diluting by about half.  You will want to prune your Japanese Maple in summer. This will allow you to begin to shape the tree as you see fit. You can hang weights from the limbs to help create a more weeping shape.

In Closing

Growing Japanese Maples in a pot can be very rewarding, and in my particular scenario, it will provide absolutely stunning foliage for my meditation garden.   Have you tried growing one in a container before?  Do you have any tips that you would like to share?  Be sure to sound off in the comments!  

And be sure to check out our other gardening articles.

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