Caring for your Japanese Maples (Acers)

Japanese maples (Acer palmatum and other species) can provide a beautiful feature in a garden with most varieties showing fantastic autumn leaf colour with bright reds, fiery oranges or stunning yellows.
Contrary to popular belief, Acers can be grown in most soils in the local area (up to pH 7). Alternatively, they can be grown in pots or containers. At Greenshutters, we have a 35 year-old Acer that has been kept in a pot.
This year we have had a lot of people asking why the leaves on their Acers have dried out or why the branches have died back. Here are some tips to prevent this happening:
Water your Acer sufficiently—in a pot it will need watering most days during the spring, summer and autumn. If you allow it to dry out, the leaves will dry out and not recover. Lack of water will also cause die back of the branches, so it’s worth asking a friend to water your Acers if you are going away. Acers in the ground can also benefit from being watered during dry spells in the summer.
Position your Acer in a sheltered spot out the wind—wind will cause leaves to dry out faster than the plants can get water up from their roots. As a result, the leaves desiccate.
Feed your Acer sparingly—Japanese maples need very little feed. If they are planted in the ground then they probably won’t need feeding after the first year. In pots we recommend a small amount of controlled release fertiliser (6 or 12 months formulation) in March every year.
Pot up Acers that have outgrown their containers—large trees in small pots will dry out very quickly and need constant watering. If you pot them up in the spring, it will give the roots a chance to fill out the pot before winter. We do not recommend potting them up after the end of July.
We hope these simple tips will help you keep your Japanese maples looking in tip top condition throughout the year.

Roger Eavis