Japanese Maple care and details: beautiful bonsai with medicinal value

Japanese Maple care and details: beautiful bonsai with medicinal value
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Image by S B from Pixabay

They are beautiful looking bonsai plants with attractive leaf colour which changes in autumn. Japanese Maple care is not very tough but require efforts to grow and They are easy to train into different shapes. They are easy to grow and maintain. They are a wonderful addition to the bonsai garden.

Quick Details of Japanese Maple

Other Common NamesRed emperor maple, palmate maple, Japanese maple, smooth Japanese maple
Type Indoor/outdoor plant
MaintenanceModerate/ high in case of bonsai
FloweringDuring spring
LightBright direct sunlight, can tolerate partial indirect light.
WaterWhen the soil is dry
TemperatureWarm conditions
SoilWell drained sandy soil
FertilizerAny liquid fertilizer rich in nitrogen
HabitatChina, japan, Korea, South east Russia
Common DiseasesRoot rot
Scientific name Acer palmatum

Plant Name Buying Instructions

  • Buy a healthy plant
  • Normally people buy this plant for Bonsai making

Overview of Japanese Maple

Japanese maple are shrubs or trees belonging to the family Sapindaceae. The leaves are mostly dark green and have five lobes and look like fingers. The flowers are cyme and mostly greenish yellow in colour. Bonsai might not produce flowers. The leaves are mostly green in colour and turn to red, orange or yellow during autumn. One of the varieties has pink coloured leaves. the branches of the tree can be stretched thus making them suitable for training. They are to an extent resistant to climatic changes.

Special features: the leaves of Japanese maple change colour from green to yellow, orange and finally red with the change in temperature. The leaves and stem have medicinal values.

Japanese Maple Care
Japanese Maple Bonsai

Image Source: Cliff from Arlington, Virginia, USA / CC BY (Cropped)

Usage and Advantage of Japanese Maple

  • Grown as an ornamental plant.
  • The branches and leaves are used in traditional medicine.

General Japanese Maple Care

Special Care:

Pruning and Trimming:

Trimming can be done early spring to maintain the shape of the plant. The plants easily bud throughout the year and pinching off new shoots can lead to massive growth of the shoots. The plants can be pruned throughout the year. The new growth arises mainly from the internodes so care should be taken not to pinch off excess stems. This can lead to the death of the branch.

Wiring:  The wiring can be done throughout the year. The best suitable time being early spring as the plant produces new shoots during spring so one can understand the shape of the plant before the new growths are formed. They can be rewired after every 6 months. Care should be taken while wiring during spring as the branches can outgrow the wire and can cause cuts and damages in the branch. Wiring shouldn’t be done during winters. This is suited to many types of bonsai including broom, informal upright, group plantings, raft, twin trunk, clump and weeping.

Positioning the plant:

Position during summer and spring: The plant prefers to be kept in warm and sunny areas. The plant can resist harsh summers however continuous exposure to intense sunlight can be damaging to the plant. During extreme summers, the plant can be left outdoors during the day and shifted to a shadier place or indoors during the afternoon.

Winters: During winters the plant can be left outdoors if the winters are mild. They can withstand cold to an extent. In case of extreme winters, the bonsai should be placed indoors in warmer areas with ample sunlight during the day.


A well-draining, well aerated soil can be used. Any potting mixture specific for bonsai can be selected for its growth. They develop shallow roots. A mix rich in nutrients with a pH slightly acidic can be used (5.6-7)


The Japanese maple can not survive drought. The plant should be watered regularly to maintain the moisture in the soil. watering can be preferably done during the morning so that the moisture remains throughout the day without drying out the soil. The plant should not be over watered or this can lead to root rot due to water log in the soil. the plants prefer slightly acidic conditions and hence rainwater is used for watering. Tap water can be slightly alkaline. Water the plants whenever the soil is dry. In case of regular watering spray water to moisten the soil.

Light and temperature:

The Japanese maple can survive in hot conditions and can tolerate enough cold conditions. The roots get damaged if the temperature falls below 10ºc. in places with extreme winters, the plant should be shifted indoors and should be either placed in areas with proper lighting during the day or should be left outdoors during the day to get enough sunlight. The plants with pink foliage fail to maintain the colour if left in shade for a longer period.

They prefer direct sunlight. But direct sunlight during extreme summer can cause leaf scorch. They can be placed in areas with filtered sunlight during extreme summers.


The type and amount of fertilizer added depends on the season. During early spring, new leaf buds start arising. The plant should be fed with a nitrogen rich fertilizer one in a week till the leaf buds develop into mature leaves. The fertilizer can be added in two weeks till late summer. A liquid fertilizer rich in nitrogen can be chosen. During winters, the plant can be fed once in 2 weeks, half the amount of fertilizer fed during the growing season, a nitrogen free fertilizer can be used. Addition of excess fertilizer can lead to leggy growth and lack of proper nutrients can lead to short nodes and stunted growth.

Pests and other problems for Japanese Maple

These Japanese maple are not prone to any pests or pathogens in optimum conditions. They can be attacked by aphids and mealybugs if stressed. Over-watering can lead to root rot.

Propagation of Japanese Maple

Seeds: The seeds are selected and soaked in boiling water for 24 hours . this softens the seed coat. The seeds are later packed inside a plastic bag along with peat and sand and stored for 100 days. Make sure to leaves holes in the bag to allow air circulation. the seeds are collected and sown in spring.

Stem Cutting: A 4- 6 inch long softwood is collected from a healthy plant. the tip of the cutting is dipped in rooting hormone and planted in a potting mix. the soil should be maintained moist. After few weeks, roots start to appear .

reema shaju

reema shaju

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