How to have a Japanese maple tree?

It is possible to have a Japanese maple tree

What does one have to do to have a Japanese maple tree? Normally, this is a plant that grows as a bush of a few meters, and that, depending on the cultivar, develops branches at a short distance from the ground. For this reason, it often gives the impression that it is very difficult to get it to grow as a tree, that is, with a trunk that branches far from the surface of the ground.

But let me tell you something: it's not impossible. In fact, there are several cultivars that grow like this. And although it is difficult for you to get one, the most common varieties, such as Acer palmatum var atropurpureum, can also be worked into a magnificent tree.

What are the Japanese maples that grow as trees or small trees?

Before getting into the matter, it is good to know which varieties are trees or large shrubs that are like little trees. Although pruning is relatively simple, if we have a plant that has been written in its genes that it has to be a tree, we will already have a lot of livestock. So let's see what they are:

Acer palmatum 'Beni Maiko'

The Acer palmatum Beni Maiko is a tree

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The 'Beni Maiko' reaches a height of 3-4 meters, and develops a wide and oval crown of about 2-3 meters in diameter. It has palmate leaves, composed of 5 lobes whose margins are serrated. Are they are red-pink in spring, greenish in summer, and finally red in autumn before falling.

Acer palmatum var dissectum 'Seiryu'

The Acer palmatum Seiryu is a deciduous tree

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The 'Seiryu' is a tree that grows between 5 and 8 meters high. Unlike other Japanese maples, it has 5-7 lobed leaves which are much finer. Are they are green for much of the year, except in autumn when they turn reddish.

Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki'

The Acer palmatum Osakazuki is a small tree

Image - Wikimedia / TeunSpaans

He 'osakazuki' is a small tree 4-5 meters high, which develops a wide crown, about 2-3 meters. Its leaves are palmate, green in spring, and red in autumn.. It is a much-loved variety, as it is one of the few that, once acclimatized, can be directly exposed to the sun in temperate climates.

Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku'

The Acer Sango Kaku is a tree

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He 'Sango kaku' reaches 6 meters in height. It has palmate leaves with 5 bright green lobes, except in autumn when they turn yellow/orange. The tender branches have an orange/reddish color that draws a lot of attention.

Acer palmatum 'Shishigashira'

The Acer palmatum is a shrub or tree

Image - Flickr / Mark Bolin

The 'Shishigashira' is a Japanese maple that they call a lion's head. The reason for this is not clear to me: the cup is wide and very, very dense, and the shape it has could perhaps be reminiscent of the shape of the feline's head. In any case, we are talking about a shrub that grows like a small tree 3-4 meters high, which sprouts green but turns yellow or yellow-orange in autumn.

How to prune a Japanese maple so that it becomes a tree and not a bush?

El Acer palmatum It is a species that is cultivated in gardens, patios and terraces in regions where the climate is temperate. It tolerates pruning well, so much so that it has been used as bonsai since almost the beginning of this art. Therefore, if it is possible to have it as a miniature tree in a narrow tray, it is also possible to have it as a beautiful tree.

Now, the first thing to know is that you cannot prune when you want, but you have to do it at the end of winter, when the buds are about to wake up. When they 'swell', or sooner if temperatures start to rise after bad weather, you can prune it. Of course: if late frosts occur in your area, wait for them to pass, otherwise your plant would suffer damage.

Japanese maple leaves are deciduous

What tools will you need? The following:

  • Anvil Pruning Shears for tender branches, 1 centimeter thick. you can get them here!.
  • hand saw for hard and thick branches
  • Healing paste to seal the wounds

Once you have it all you have to remove the branches are low, leaving the trunk without them up to the height you want. Identify the point where the main branches branch off, and cut off any that are growing below them.

I recommend that you do not remove any main branches, otherwise it will be difficult for your tree to look nice, with a natural appearance. In fact, you have to keep in mind that well-done pruning is one that cannot be seen, at least not with the naked eye, so the fewer thick branches you prune, the better.

Then, if you want it to have a denser canopy, pinch all the branches. Pinching is a technique that consists of cutting the tip of the branch, or the first two pairs of leaves if the plant has already sprouted. You can do this with common household scissors, previously disinfected with alcohol. This way you get them to branch out more.

And that would be it, for now. You have to do these pruning whenever necessary, once a year or every two, especially if you have a variety that is actually a low bush, like 'Katsura' or 'Bloodgood'. Moreover, if what you have is a plant that will become a tree, like the ones we mentioned above, you will only have to remove the twigs that come out of the rootstock, in case they are grafted cultivars.

We hope it will serve you.

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