Japanese Maple Trees: What Is Their Food?

The Japanese maple tree is native to Japan and is one of the most popular trees in Japan. The name “makoto” means “tree of heaven”. The Japanese have been growing them since ancient times. They are known for their beautiful shape and beauty. There are many different varieties of Japanese maples, but they all grow from a single trunk with branches reaching up to several feet high. These trees are called “shiroi” (羽居) or “kami no kami” (柴の神).

They produce cones which contain sap when ripe. When the sap dries, it turns into juice which is collected by the leaves and used to make syrup. The tree produces large amounts of fruit during its life span, so the trees need lots of food. The Japanese maple tree needs nitrogen rich soil to thrive. Soil must be well drained and fertile.

In addition, the tree requires good air circulation to keep itself healthy. Japanese maples are susceptible to disease, insects and poor soil conditions. Therefore, they require regular care in order for them to survive and flourish.

How Do You Feed Your Japanese Maple Tree?

There are two types of feeding methods that you can use on your Japanese maple tree: pruning and fertilizing. Depending on the type of fertilizer and your desired outcome, you can pick one of these two methods.


In this method, you prune your tree to help it grow vigorously. When this happens, the buds in the branches grow into full size leaves. This means that your tree requires more nutrients, so it uses up more of the nutrients already in the soil. This means that you have to keep feeding it more fertilizer, so it can continue growing.

This method is generally used for trees which have aged and are of considerable size. It is a very useful technique, but it requires a lot of time and effort on your part.


When you feed your tree with chemical fertilizers, the nutrients in these fertilizers are absorbed by the soil after some time. The soil can only hold a limited amount of these nutrients. After it is fully absorbed, the soil can no longer provide sufficient nourishment to the tree, so you have to top it up again. This method is very effective and requires less effort.

What Is The Best Fertilizer For A Japanese Maple?

There are many different types of fertilizer available in the market. For a Japanese maple tree, you should use a type of slow release fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. These are the most suitable ones as they provide a constant drip of nutrients to your tree over a period of time. In addition, you should use a fertilizer with a lower concentration of nitrogen. This is because higher concentrations can burn the roots of your tree.

How Often Should You Fertilize Your Tree?

Fertilizing your Japanese maple tree is essential to its growth and health. You should feed your tree at least once a month. The best way to do this is to buy slow release fertilizer in granular form. This type of fertilizer is very easy to work with as you only have to spread it over the soil and water it like you would with any other plant. After some time, the nutrients from the fertilizer seep into the soil and reach the roots of your tree.

The strength of each granule of fertilizer will last for about a month. Therefore, if you water your tree once every week, each granule will release its nutrients over a one month period. You can buy fertilizer in large bags from most gardening stores or online.

How Much Fertilizer Should You Use?

The amount of fertilizer that you should use depends on the size and age of your tree. The average Japanese maple tree requires about 1 to 2 pounds of slow release fertilizer per year. Therefore, if you wish to fertilize your tree for one month, you would need about 0.5 to 1 pound. You can spread this fertilizer evenly over the soil and water it in after spreading.

What Kind Of Soil Does A Japanese Maple Tree Prefer?

This type of tree does not prefer any specific type of soil. It only requires that the soil be porous enough to allow easy drainage of water and air. If you have soil with a different consistency, such as clay, all you need to do is add some sand and organic matter to it. This will help it retain more water, making it easier for the roots of your tree to absorb it.

What Is The Best Time To Fertilize Your Tree?

The best time to feed your tree is in the months of March and September. These are the months in which plants and trees absorb maximum nutrients from the soil. Therefore, by fertilizing your tree during these months, the roots of your tree will easily absorb all of the nutrients from the fertilizer.


Unlike chemical fertilizers, verdigris is a natural substance that you can use to feed your tree. This natural substance contains many different minerals that help boost the overall health of your tree. If you wish to use this as your fertilizer, you should dilute it with water and apply it to your tree using a watering can.

When Should I Apply Fertilizer To My Japanese Maple?

You should apply fertilizer to your tree whenever it is necessary. Since the best time to fertilize your tree is in the months of March and September, you would need to fertilize your tree twice a year.

While it is not absolutely necessary to fertilize your tree in the month of April, you can apply fertilizer at this time if you wish.

Whichever method you choose to use, always remember to water the soil well after applying the fertilizer. This is essential as it will allow the nutrients to seep into the soil and eventually reach the roots of your tree.

Japanese Maple Feeding Habits – How To Fertilize A Japanese Maple Tree - Image

Now that you know how to effectively fertilize your tree, you should get started! All you need to do now is wait for your Japanese maple to grow and flourish. If you are satisfied with the growth of your tree, you can prune it as per your choice.

With proper care and maintenance, the life span of your Japanese maple can easily be more than thirty years. This beautiful tree will not only enhance the look of your property but will also improve the quality of air around it.

Sources & references used in this article:

Culture and Propagation of Japanese Maple by G Phillips – 2003 – vtechworks.lib.vt.edu

Acer palmatum namedBeni Shi En by H Johnston – US Patent App. 08/599,420, 1996 – Google Patents

Effects of Nitrogen Fertilization on Potato Leafhopper (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) and Maple Spider Mite (Acari: Tetranychidae) on Nursery-Grown Maples by J Prado, C Quesada, M Gosney… – Journal of economic …, 2015 – academic.oup.com

Feeding habits of ducks in a green-tree reservoir in eastern Texas by CE Allen – The Journal of Wildlife Management, 1980 – JSTOR

Influence of fertilizer on seed production in Allegheny hardwood stands by JC Bjorkbom, LR Auchmoody, DE Dorn – 1979 – books.google.com

Biology, injury, and management of maple tree pests in nurseries and urban landscapes by SD Frank, WE Klingeman III, SA White… – Journal of Integrated …, 2013 – academic.oup.com

Decomposing litter as a sink for 15N-enriched additions to an oak forest and a red pine plantation by P Micks, MR Downs, AH Magill, KJ Nadelhoffer… – Forest Ecology and …, 2004 – Elsevier



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