Japanese maples have a reputation for being difficult to grow, but although they have needs that must be met for optimal growth and color, they are a resilient and adaptable plant. However, to get the most out of these glorious trees in your garden, you need to prune them effectively if you want them to put on their best show, according to the Japanese maple experts at MrMaple.com.
They said, “Pruning your Japanese maple can actually make your tree grow faster. If you cut off smaller branches leaving larger, thicker branches with buds, your tree will often grow very quickly.
“It’s because you get cleaner flow or nutrients from Japanese maples that have been pruned. It’s like exercising your Japanese maples. It is best to do this in the spring.
“The main tip for pruning is to never prune more than 45% of your tree. Yes, that means you can sharply prune a Japanese maple.
“Remember to clean your pruning tools with rubbing alcohol. This helps keep your pruning tools sanitized, which helps your Japanese maple stay healthy.
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“By pruning your Japanese maple and leaving the large branches, you’ll get a taller tree faster.”
3. Eliminate conflicting offshoots from your Japanese maple
This means that if two limbs touch each other and are too close, one of them must be cut.
The pros have noted that a lot of pruning is judgmental. They said, “Choosing which stays and which goes will be a judgment that only the owner or the pruner can make.”
4. Keep a branch as the central leader
If gardeners are pruning a vertical selection, they should be sure to keep one branch as the “central leader”. This is usually the tallest part of the tree on most straight Japanese maples.
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Experts added, “If you prune a dwarf or lace-leaved Japanese maple, you can prune the Japanese maple to accentuate the natural shape of the tree.
“It can be done with lace leaf types by cutting your Japanese maple to create different levels of branching.”
5. Cut fish tails
When there are three small branches protruding from terminal buds at the end of a branch, it’s often a good idea to prune the middle branch, experts have advised.
They said, “It gives space to the other two branches and allows them to have more energy.”
Water the Japanese maples
Another way to care for Japanese maples is to water them. Experts say this task will be “easy” if gardeners remember one “key” detail.
They explained, “The key is that Japanese maples like good drainage, but also regular amounts of water. The key when planting is not to overwater your tree.
“It’s best to water your Japanese maple and then let it dry out. Once you’ve tested the soil around your Japanese maple and realize it has dried out, it’s time to water again.
“Watering times in different soils under different environmental conditions may vary, it’s best to determine what works best for your tree.”