Bonsai with Japanese Maples


Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) is chosen for bonsai primarily due to its lobed leaves, color, and its adaptability to become a bonsai. Also, there are countless varieties and the bonsai tree can be formed in a variety of styles.

Position: The Japanese Maple prefers a sunny, airy position but during great midday heat it should be placed in the light shade to prevent damaged leaves. The Japanese Maple is frost hardy even when trained as a bonsai, but it should be protected from strong frost (below -10° C / 14° F).

The Japanese Maple bonsai tree is known for its delicate foliage and beautiful shades of gold, orange and red during autumn
Japanese Maple Bonsai performs well in a sunny and airy environment. It is best to grow this kind of bonsai outdoors but it should be protected from frost and it is advisable to let it stay in light shade during hottest days to prevent damage to the leaves

Japanese Maple bonsai trees require constant moisture. However, it is important that the bonsai tree is not oversaturated as this can cause damage to the roots, including rot and decay.

Too much water can also cause the onset of mildew, which is a common occurrence with Japanese Maple bonsai trees that have been oversaturated. They also do not require a lot of sunlight, as compared to other variations of bonsai trees. It should be in an area so it can still get shade.

Lastly, it is important to fertilize the Japanese Maple bonsai tree. Apply the fertilizer from the end of the winter season until early into the spring season. It is not recommended to add fertilizer after the tree has been re-potted or at some point throughout the summer months.

This very compact and densely branched, rounded tree is an outstanding miniature maple that boasts small, bright green leaves with red tips and stems that have a spectacular red-orange color in autumn and interesting branching and structure with its rough corky bark in winter months. With its heartiness and beauty, it is easy to fall in love with the Japanese Maple. It is an outstanding bonsai specimen which promises to have fantastic results that are well worth its particular care needs.

Japanese Red Filgree Lace Maple Bonsai Tree
(acer palmatum dissectum)

Infection — pests

Japanese maples are usually not prone to infection when healthy but if stressed, they can be prone to aphids and scale. Aphids can infest young shoots in spring, leading to distorted leaves.

Spider mites, weevils, and bark beetles (especially if the tree is already unhealthy) can also attack.

These can be attacked with a simple solution of 1 tsp dish soap to 1-quart warm water sprayed on the entire leaf zone until runoff occurs. Rinse well with tepid water.

Also watch for local caterpillars, as they can defoliate a tree swiftly; these are easily dealt with by removal by hand and a swift stomp with your heel which may sound unappealing but is really quite effective.

They can also be prone to fungal infections from overwatering which will lead to root rot. Though not a disease, Leaf scorch is a common problem with Japanese Maples.

It is caused when the leaves lose water faster than they can take it up.  This may be caused by exposure to too much hot sun, late/early frosts, drought, drying winds, or a buildup of minerals and salts in the soil, due to an imbalanced pH or over-fertilizing.

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