Eastfork Nursery – Planting Instructions
The best soil for your Japanese maple is a fast draining sandy loam. Japanese maples do not like wet feet, a term used for poor drainage. If you have clay soil in your area the best plan is to create a raised mound that is at least twelve inches above the clay. This will allow the roots to stay healthy above the heavy wet soil. Amend the clay 12″ to 15″ below the surface. Include bark chips and compost to keep the soil loose. Backfill the hole until it is level with the surrounding earth. Take the maple out of the container and place it on the surface of the ground, then pack the same amended soil around the root ball of the maple to make a slightly mounded area which should be at least 3′ or 4′ across. You may want to make a half-moon shaped mound that tapers off gently from the base of the trunk of the maple to be level with the surrounding ground. Stake the maple so that the root ball does not shift in the wind.
If you are fortunate to have sandy or rocky soil, dig a hole larger than the root ball and backfill the hole with mulch, bark chips or compost so that the maple, when planted, is even with the surrounding ground.
When planting your maple in the ground or in a container, be careful not to disturb the root ball any more than necessary. Root bound containers will require you to loosen the roots a little. Transplanting on a hot summer day is not recommended. Cooler weather will be less stressful on the plant. We recommend using a Vitamin B supplement or Superthrive to prevent transplant shock. Thoroughly water the root ball with the mixture of Vitamin B or Superthrive right after planting and then water alone once a week for at least three weeks [summer time]. Change to watering once a month beginning in fall. If you have rain or snow in the winter months do not water. Begin with once a month watering again in March/April depending upon your climate zone, or when the maples begin to leaf out. Once every couple of weeks in the summer and usually after a few years you do not need to water at all – let Mother Nature take over.
Very important – Do not plant the base of the trunk below the soil line. To conserve moisture and protect in the winter–use mulch or bark chips around the base of the tree. If planting in the fall or winter reduce watering because of rain. Do not overwater.
If you decide to plant your maple in a container (they make wonderful container plants), care should be taken to use a planting mix with adequate drainage so that the roots do not become water logged. A small amount of gravel at the bottom of the container can help with drainage. Again the soil should be loose, so add some bark chips to your potting mix and water as needed, depending upon time of planting.
Lastly, Japanese maples do not like a lot of fertilizer. In fact, variegated maples may even loose their color variation if over fertilized. A slow-release fertilizer, such as Osmocote, is recommended. If planted in the ground fertilize once in the spring. Do not fertilize in the fall or winter as the maple requires a dormant period, which would be jeopardized by applying fertilizer. When in doubt or if you have questions not answered in this section – please call or email me.
Sam, the Maple_Lady.