Japanese Maples and Conifers

Care for Your Tree

Not sure how to plant your Japanese Maple or Conifer or how often you need to water? No worries! we've got you covered with this list of frequently asked gardening questions.


How do I plant my Japanese Maple?

To the left is a diagram illustrating the planting of a Japanese maple in heavy soil like the clay soils in North Georgia.The root ball should be about half way above the existing ground level. In more porous soils, or with large trees the root ball should only be about 25% above the existing ground level. Notice that we do not recommend soil amendments when planting an individual tree.
Conifer planting would greatly depend on the type of conifer being planted so feel free to email or call us about the particular plant you have. Many conifers are planted like Japanese Maples.


When is the best time to plant a Japanese Maple?

Since we all want big mature specimens but can only find or afford something smaller the best time to plant an ornamental plant is five years ago, the second best time is today. All joking aside as long as your plant is container grown you can plant year round in the southeast. The care instructions just change depending on the time of year. Of course if you plant in summer you must pay much more attention to watering, so fall or winter can be easier.


Why should I plant a container plant instead of a larger ball and burlap plant?

 A ball and burlap plant is a plant that was grown in the ground for a number of years and then dug and the root ball is then wrapped in burlap. The advantage is that a plant can be grown much faster and less expensively in the ground. The problem is, especially with shallow rooted plants like Japanese Maples, that when the plant is dug out of the ground up to ninety percent of the small feeder roots are lost. These roots can take years to reform once the plant is replanted in the ground, making growth very slow for several years. A container plant will grow much quicker with little or no chance of transplant shock. Also container plants can be safely planted all year long.


How often should I water my Japanese Maple/ Conifer?

 Unfortunately there is no stock answer. Allot depends on what time of year you plant them, what type and size plant you have and what type of soil you have. While establishing plants in the landscape it is very important to keep plants moist but not soggy wet. Good drainage is very important for Japanese maples and most conifers. I see many more plants die from over watering than under watering. Check plants daily until you get a feel for the water requirements of your particular plant by sticking your finger into the soil, if it is dry water thoroughly, if the plant is moist check tomorrow. Established plants should never need water more than once a week.


Should I use soil amendments when planting a Japanese Maple or Conifer? 

The general rule is if your are planting just one tree and can not amend to the drip line of the plant when it is fully m3ature, then you should not amend the soil. If you are preparing a bed large enough so that the ground would be amended past the drip line of a mature plant then go ahead and amend the soil and raise the bed.


Why does your Web site list the size of certain plants as __ to __feet when I have seen them at least 3 times that tall? 

All sizes listed are the size you could expect them to be in 10 to 12 years starting as a 3 or 7 Gallon Plant. I get asked all the time what the ultimate height or width of a certain plant may be and it is just impossible to answer because the only time a plant quits growing is when it dies.


What causes the tips of japanese maple leaves to brown in summer?

The easy answer is that you live in a hot climate with compacted soils. It is not serious and will not cause any damage to your tree. Browning to the tips of the leaves is not caused by under water, it is also not a sign of too much sun, it is actually caused by a combination of high air temperatures, high root zone temperatures and excess water or lack of air to the roots.


Why does my Japanese Maple that was red in spring turn more green in summer?

Simply, it is hot in the south. More to the point, in other areas certain cultivars will stay red all summer long but in hotter climates like the Southeastern U.S. almost all cultivars will turn at least bronze if not totally green by mid August. This is caused by high daytime temperatures and the lack of significant cooling at night which results in high root zone temperatures.


Which Japanese Maple cultivar will stay red the longest in my area?

The are so many factors that determine how a maple will hold it's color in a certain area that it is impossible to just say that this or that cultivar will stay red for you. Determining factors include sunlight, temperature, airflow, soil moisture content and drainage. Please call or email us to talk about your specific area.


Can Japanese Maples tolerate full sun?

There are certain cultivars that tolerate full sun in hotter climates. In general the farther south you go the shorter the list of cultivars that will tolerate full sun. Call or e-mail to get suggestions for your particular area.


How much shade can Japanese maples tolerate?

 We have maples growing in fairly heavy shade. Some cultivars do better than others. I have never seen a maple die from lack of light. Some of the effects of too much shade are thinning of the leaves, thin leggy growth and powdery mildew. Also, red varieties tend not to hold color well in more shade. Call or e-mail to get suggestions for your particular area.