Japanese Maple Growing Profile

Acer palmatum

Maple tree changing from summer to autumn colour
Rosemary Calvert/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

The Japanese maple is a small tree that will fit into almost any yard. They are prized for their striking leaves. Japanese maple trees are often used for bonsai and in Japanese gardens.

  • Latin Name: The scientific name for his tree is Acer palmatum and it is placed in the Sapindaceae (soapberry) family with the other maple trees.
  • Common Names: The name associated with this species is Japanese maple.
  • Preferred USDA Hardiness ZonesThese can be grown in Zones 5-9, depending on the cultivar chosen. It is native to China, Korea, and Japan.
  • Size & Shape: The size of the Japanese maple differs by cultivar. It can range from a shrub to a small tree. The average size is 15-25' tall and wide. The shape is usually round or vase. It may also have a weeping shape.
  • Exposure: Grow Japanese maple in full sun to part shade. It is a suitable tree for full shade if needed, especially in the warmer zones.

Foliage/ Flowers/Fruit

  • Foliage: The Japanese maple tree is renowned for its foliage. The leaves have five to nine palmate lobes. They may come in green or red. In the fall, the leaves will turn to brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow or purple.There are many different textures of leaves. Some have wide lobes, while others are finely dissected and lacy in appearance.
  • Flowers: The flowers are small and red or purple.
  • Fruit: It is is a dry winged fruit called a samara that is .5-1" long.

Design Tips

There are hundreds of different cultivars of the Japanese maple in a range of sizes. This means that it can fit in almost any size yard.

These are a standard feature in a Japanese garden.

This tree is excellent for providing fall and winter interest because of the leaf and samara colors.

The Japanese maple is often pruned into a bonsai.

Growing Tips

Japanese maple trees like moist well-drained soil. They do not do as well in hot dry areas, and they do not like windy places.

You can fertilize your Japanese maple in late winter- early spring after it is one year old. You can also feed it again in summer as needed.

Propagation is through seeds and softwood cuttings. The different cultivars are also grafted onto rootstock.


You will usually not have to do much pruning. You can prune out the lower branches if desired. Sometimes branches may cross each other, so you can remove one to improve the appearance. Otherwise just remove any dead, diseased or damaged branches as necessary.

You can also control the appearance of the Japanese maple by choosing whether to train a single trunk or to allow multiple trunks to form.

Pests & Diseases

Common pests include aphids, scale, Japanese beetles, and borers.

Diseases and problems include scorch, bark split, tar spot, verticillium wilt, leaf spots, twig kill, and manganese deficiency.

Additional Japanese Maple Facts

The Japanese sometimes fry Japanese maple leaves to make candies with them.