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Plant of the Week: Japanese Maple

Create a peaceful oasis to retreat to when it’s time to refocus and “put your feet back on the ground”.

Plant of the Week: Japanese Maple

Graceful and elegant, Japanese Maples are aesthetically brilliant understory trees. We use them primarily as specimen trees and focal points in the garden. Many people will build a shade garden around one to incorporate other plants in the area. They add texture and beautiful foliage to the landscape and rarely will outgrow an area.

Plant Characteristics:

Japanese Maples will vary in size depending on the variety you use. They grow anywhere from 5-6 feet tall up to 20 feet tall. There are upright and weeping cultivars that can be used. The foliage will be bright chartreuse, deep burgundy or green with a variegated margin. They are deciduous trees so they will defoliate and go dormant over winter. While the top of the tree is dormant and not actively growing, the root system will continue to develop over the winter, making fall the best time to plant them. No part (bark, foliage etc.) is toxic to your pet.

Plant Care:

Keep Japanese Maples wet during the hotter months of the year here in Louisiana. Be sure to pick a shady area in the garden. Morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal placement. If planting in the ground rather than a container, be sure to amend the soil with organic material. Using our Organic Garden Soil to amend will work just fine. When considering pruning your Japanese Maple, the proper time is July and August. This is when the sap won’t run from the cuts. You should only need to prune every 3 or 4 years. Other than that, there is not much needed to keep them content. Simply let them grow and fertilize a year after planting with a basic fertilizer.


Japanese Maples can be either kept in containers, or used as a centerpiece in the landscape. Personally, I prefer to keep them in pots as long as possible to control factors such as moisture and light/shade. Due to their slow growth rate, they make wonderful container trees. You can use them as a focal point in an Asian-themed garden, Zen garden, or rock garden to create a peaceful oasis to retreat to when it’s time to refocus and “put your feet back on the ground”. Incorporating water features in these garden settings can create a tranquil spot in the garden.

When I have used Japanese Maples (though it has not been often), I really learned to appreciate the qualities they can bring to a garden. Whether on a patio in a pot or in the ground in your garden, you will enjoy every minute spent caring for your little Japanese Maple.