Japanese Maple bonsai trees are very popular among bonsai enthusiasts. The tree’s botanical name, Acer palmatum, stems from the Latin word, palma, meaning hand, because of their hand shaped leaves. Their low maintenance makes these trees especially desirable for those who are just beginning to practice the art of bonsai growing. In autumn, the leaves on this beautiful tree turn red, orange, or even gold. Placing this tree in your home will light up the room all year long.

Characteristics of Japanese Maple Bonsai

The bark on the japanese maple bonsai trees starts out green or red, and fades into a gray to grayish brown as it ages. From May to June, yellowish green flowers form in clusters on the tree. These flowers turn into paired winged maple seeds that cut into the ground when mature. There are many different kinds of Japanese Maple trees. Some popular cultivars include the Arakawa, Kiyohime, Shishigashira, and Kashima. The Japanese Maple trees are popular for their red, orange, and yellow colors in autumn.

How to Care For Japanese Maple Bonsai Trees

Japanese Maple bonsai trees are a great fit for beginners. They are outdoor trees, but are sensitive to lots of light and frost. Unlike most bonsai trees, this tree likes to be constantly moist. Because of this constant watering, these trees need to be repotted every year in the first 9 years of its life. Pruning can be done regularly and is necessary to create the desired look of a bonsai. Wiring is rarely necessary for these trees. 

Positioning Japanese Maple Bonsai Trees

Sunny and airy positions outdoors are desirable for Japanese Maples. During midday high temperatures, your tree should be placed in the shade in order to prevent the leaves from getting damaged. Protect your tree from temperatures under 14 degrees Fahrenheit. These trees cannot survive strong frost.

Watering Japanese Maple Bonsai Trees

Unlike other bonsai trees, Japanese Maples should be watered daily, or even twice a day in the summer, during their growth season. It is still a good idea to check the soil before watering each time. Water as needed in the winter. Use a well draining soil to keep your tree healthy. 

Fertilizing Japanese Maple Bonsai Trees

The use of organic, solid is recommended for Japanese Maple bonsai trees. This soil contains all the micronutrients the plant needs and it takes effect gently and slowly. Apply the amount as directed. For additional growth, apply a liquid fertilizer weekly. This works best with young plants and raw materials. Avoid fertilizers with high nitrogen content as this will cause unnecessarily large leaves and internodes. 

Japanese Maple Bonsai Training Techniques

You can trim twigs and shoots all year round, but strong branches should be pruned in autumn or summer in order to avoid excessive bleeding. Cut paste should be applied to any cuts on these trees as fungal diseases can enter through their wounds. Cut back new growth to a pair of leaves or two. To keep twigs thin, you can pinch delicate ramification on mature trees. Once the leaf pair has unfolded, remove the shoot’s tip. Use this method only when necessary, though, as this will weaken the tree long term. 

Every other summer you can prune the tree’s leaves if smaller leaves are desired. Do this by removing all the leaves but leaving the stems. You can also try a more gentle version of leaf pruning, which is partial leaf pruning. In this method, you do not remove all leaves, only remove the biggest ones or remove all the leaves on the strongest parts of your tree. You can use the partial leaf pruning method every year since it is less stressful for the tree.

Common Diseases and Pests Of The Japanese Maple Bonsai

When properly cared for, Japanese Maple bonsai trees shouldn’t face many problems. However, in the spring, aphids often infect these trees. Customary insecticide sticks or sprays will help. Verticillium wilt is a common fungal disease that may occur on fresh cuts. This will cause parts of the tree or the tree in its entirety to die. Verticillium is almost always fatal and can be transferred to other bonsai trees through the tools you use. Clean all your tools as soon as you notice this disease.

Japanese Maples are beautiful outdoor bonsai that anyone can care for. They are low maintenance trees that like sunlight and shade in the afternoons. Watering is essential for these trees, as they like constant moisture. Fertilize during the growth season with solid fertilizer and add liquid fertilizer every week for increased growth. These trees take pruning very well but do not need to be wired often. Some diseases and pests may occur with these trees, some treatable, but some almost always fatal. We hope you enjoy growing your Japanese Maple bonsai tree!