Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree


For a majority of men and women who are bonsai enthusiasts, the Japanese Maple bonsai tree is extremely popular. It is a beautiful bonsai tree and what a lot of people think of when they picture bonsai trees in their head.

It is a highly recommended type of bonsai tree for those individuals who are just starting the bonsai tree hobby. The Japanese Maple bonsai tree does not require a lot of maintenance and care.

As well, the Japanese Maple bonsai tree, when indoors, can really liven up a room in a house or an office. It is especially beautiful during the autumn months because the leaves turn magnificent shades of red, gold, and orange. It offers a little bit of extra color to a room.

The Japanese Maple bonsai tree is known for its delicate foliage and beautiful shades of gold, orange and red during autumn. It requires greater commitment to grow a bonsai tree than to plant any other plant.

Japanese Maple Bonsai performs well in a sunny and airy environment. It is best to grow this kind of bonsai outdoors but it should be protected from frost and it is advisable to let it stay in a light shade during hottest days to prevent damage to the leaves.

Japanese Maple Bonsai
Scientific/Botanical NameAcer palmatum
DescriptionThe deciduous Japanese maple tree is indigenous to Japan. As the tree matures, the leaves undergo color changes. They start out with a green color, then they change to orange, and then end with a deep red color. The branches of the tree are flexible, making the tree well suited to bonsai training.
PositionJapanese maple trees grow best in USDA planting zones 5 and 6. The trees cannot tolerate direct sunlight in the summertime. Mature trees can tolerate short periods of freezing conditions, but they should be protected from severe frost.
WateringThe soil of the Japanese maple tree should be kept evenly-moist. More frequent watering is needed whilst the tree is actively growing. Water the tree daily from mid-spring to late-summer. Water as needed during the winter season to keep the soil from becoming dry.
FeedingFeed the tree every two weeks during spring and summer. During the fall, feed the tree with a fertilizer that is nitrogen-free. Do not feed during wintertime.
Leaf and Branch PruningTo reduce the size of leaves, prune the leaves during periods of active growth. This will also serve to intensify the colors of the leaves in the fall. Pinch- out new tree shoots on a regular basis to maintain the desired style, and to encourage optimal branching. The main branches are best pruned in the winter.
Re-potting & Growing MediumRe-pot young trees once a year. Trees that are over 10 years old should be re-potted on a three-yearly schedule. Re-potting must be carried out in the springtime prior to the opening of the buds. Japanese akadama clay is the best soil in which to grow the tree.
WiringIf it is necessary to wire the tree, this should be carried out in the summertime when the tree has all of its leaves. Wiring should not be left on for longer than six months, and raffia can be used to shield the bark.
NotesProvide excellent air circulation to the plant so as to prevent powdery mildew.

General Care For Japanese Maple Bonsai

Just like all other bonsai trees available, Japanese Maple bonsai trees require constant moisture. However, it is important that the bonsai tree is not oversaturated as this can cause damage to the roots, including rot and decay.

Too much water can also cause the onset of mildew, which is a common occurrence with Japanese Maple bonsai trees that have been oversaturated. They also do not require a lot of sunlight, as compared to other variations of bonsai trees. It should be in an area so it can still get shade.

Lastly, it is important to fertilize the Japanese Maple bonsai tree. Apply the fertilizer from the end of the winter season until early into the spring season. It is not recommended to add fertilizer after the tree has been re-potted or at some point throughout the summer months.

Overview: How to Create a Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree

When creating a Japanese Maple bonsai tree, the first thing to do is choose a branch that has a structure and shape that is pleasing. Then individuals need to collect all the necessary materials, including a sharp pair of scissors or a knife, a small sheet of very heavy plastic, sphagnum moss that was soaked in some water for a minimum of 15 minutes, some string, rooting hormone, and any types of additional decorations to add.

Next, individuals must completely cut around the selected branch where the roots are going to sprout and then make another cut a bit below the first cut. Then, make a cut to connect these cuts.

Next, peel the bark located between the cuts. This should be an easy task. It is important to ensure that no cambium layer is leftover.

Then, dust the cut with some of the rooting hormone and then wrap that whole area using the sphagnum moss, then the plastic, and then use the string to tie it all in place. The moss needs to be kept wet and in a few weeks there should be some roots popping through the plastic covering.

Once the roots start to get thicker, separate this new tree by cutting just below the roots. Take the container for the new tree and partially fill it with top soil. Carefully unwrap the plastic from the new tree. Make sure not to disturb the roots. Then add additional soil.

The Japanese Maple bonsai tree, found primarily in outdoor gardens, is one of the best species of bonsai trees. It is an extremely compact bonsai tree and is known for its delicate foliage and beautiful hues of reds and gold throughout the leaves.

Many fall in love instantly with the Japanese Maple bonsai tree. With more than 300 different species of this type of bonsai tree, all with their own unique leaf shape, size and color, any type of Japanese Maple bonsai tree someone selects will provide magnificent results!

In-Depth Guide To Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree

There are two types of Japanese Maple bonsai tree the Dissectum and the Palmatum.  The Dissectum Japanese Maples cannot withstand plenty of direct sunlight and wind exposure, especially during summer while Palmatum Japanese Maples are able to tolerate wind and direct sunlight exposure.

This guide aims to provide a detailed information about taking care of Japanese Bonsai tree to help you understand the concepts and skills required, and become a better bonsai gardener. We will give you in-depth details about the following topics:

  1. How to Choose a Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree
  2. Japanese Maple Bonsai Hardiness Zones
  3. Where to Plant Your Japanese Maple Tree
  4. Right Watering Technique
  5. Fertilizing or Feeding Japanese Maples
  6. How to Prune and Shape Japanese Maples
  7. How to Make a Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree
  8. Transplanting Tips
  9. Re-potting Your Japanese Maple Bonsai

1) How to Choose a Japanese Maple Bonsai

The Japanese Maple bonsai tree is one of the most diverse bonsai trees available. There are over 300 different types of Japanese Maple trees available that are made into amazing bonsai trees. There are five primary factors to think about when it comes to selecting the right Japanese Maple bonsai tree.

First Factor

First and foremost, you have to consider the geographic climate in your area. It is best to choose a type of Japanese Maple bonsai that has a minimum of two cold zones hardier as compared to the zone you live in.

Second Factor

You also have to consider how big your Japanese Maple bonsai will grow. This tree species come in various sizes and shapes. Some bonsai grow a lot bigger as compared others. If you want to prune your Japanese Maple bonsai once or twice a year, then it maintaining a certain size is easier.

However, if you don’t want to prune your bonsai tree, then it is best to choose a Japanese Maple bonsai that will eventually grow to a size that fits in the space you allot for your bonsai tree.

Third Factor

It is also important to choose the area where you will be planting your Japanese Maple bonsai tree.

Will it get direct sunlight at all times or will it stay in a shaded area mostly?

A majority of Japanese Maple bonsai trees needs sun, most especially in the morning and a shaded area in the afternoon. Keep in mind that the Japanese Maple bonsai trees should not stay in a full day under the sun.

Fourth Factor

The fourth factor is sun exposure, which is related to the location of the bonsai tree. Dissectum Japanese Maples are not able to tolerate direct exposure to the sunlight and a strong gust of wind. Palmatum Japanese Maples are able to withstand direct sunlight and strong winds quite well.

Fifth Factor

The last factor you have to consider is the leaf color of your Japanese Maple tree. Some gardeners prefer to grow green leaves, some people like red leaves, while there are those who want variegated.

Japanese Maple bonsai trees with green leaves can withstand hotter temperatures and increased direct sunlight exposure than those compared to those with red leaves or variegated.

2) Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree Hardiness Zones

When it comes to considering the geographical climate when choosing the right Japanese Maple for you, the big question is, “What is the best Japanese Maple tree that is recommended for my zone?”

Generally, Japanese Maple trees are more cold hardy as compared to being heat tolerant. In fact, very seldom a Japanese Maple bonsai die due to normal winter temperatures. Most cold damages are caused by late freezes during spring after the Japanese Maple trees have leafed out.

TIP #1: Maintain a 3 to 4 inches thick bed of mulch around each Japanese Maple bonsai tree, at least the diameter base of the tree canopy. It will help in keeping the soil cool for a longer time in early spring. Always keep the roots cool to postpone early bud break as well as leaf emergence.

TIP #2: Avoid feeding your Japanese Maple bonsai tree in early spring using fast release type fertilizers. It is best to use controlled-release fertilizer for a slower release of nutrients in cool soils. These are simple to use and their formulation will provide the best proper nourishment for your Japanese Maple bonsai for the entire year.

Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree

TIP #3: Avoid pruning in early spring. Any pruning or trimming encourages your Japanese Maple bonsai trees to grow. Pruning is recommended during warm months, but not during early spring when they are on the verge of a new spring growth. Prune your Japanese Maples the same time of the last freeze date expected for your zone. Avoid pruning in fall and during winter because very cold temperatures may cause twig dieback. Just wait until early spring to prune or trim when you can remove any dead stems or twigs.

TIP #4: Another common question is, “Can I plant my Japanese Maple tree in a container or pot for my patio or deck?”.  Absolutely! Just bear in mind that the roots may experience colder temperatures as compared when it is planted on the ground. The general rule of thumb is that the roots are 2 zones less cold hardy as compared to the above-ground portion of the bonsai plant. For instance, if your Japanese Maple bonsai tree is rated as a zone 5 (having -10 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit temperature), the roots are only cold hardy up to zone 7. If the roots are less hardy on a container, should not this then be zone 3? If you are planning to have your Japanese Maple tree planted in a pot or container that will remain outdoors all year, it is better to buy a Japanese bonsai tree that is 2 zones colder as compared to your region. The fact is in Southern states, they have a much better success with Japanese Maple bonsai trees in containers.

The Japanese Maple bonsai tree hardiness zones serve as a guide for what is normal in your zone or location. Remember that any abnormal temperature can put you in a warmer or colder zone for that particular season. While planting Japanese Maples and other plants outside of your area’s hardiness zone is possible, it is very risky.

Generally, most Japanese Maple bonsai trees are USDA cold hardy to zone 5  and a few are rated as zone 4. Many varieties of Japanese Maple trees are heat-rated, reaching a zone of up to zone 8, and several are also rated for zone 9. Check the cold hardiness rating of Japanese Maple bonsai trees below.

Japanese Maple Cold Hardiness Rating Chart

TypeJapanese Maple VarietyHardiness
dissectum (Laceleaf)Crimson Queen5 to 8
dissectum (Laceleaf)Inaba shidare5 to 8
dissectum (Laceleaf)Red Dragon5 to 8
dissectum (Laceleaf)Tamukeyama5 to 8
dissectum (Laceleaf)Viridis5 to 8
dissectum (Laceleaf)Waterfall5 to 8
japonicumAconitifolium Maiku-jaku5 to 8
japonicumGreen Cascade5 to 8
palmatumAmber Ghost5 to 8
palmatumAo shime no uchi5 to 8
palmatumAtro-purpureum5 to 8
palmatumAtro-purpureum (in small pots)5 to 8
palmatumAtro-purpureum (SEED)5 to 8
palmatumBloodgood5 to 8
palmatumBurgundy Lace5 to 8
palmatumButterfly5 to 8
palmatumBeni Otake5 to 8
palmatumdissectum5 to 8
palmatumFirst Ghost5 to 8
palmatumGeisha5 to 8
palmatumGrandma Ghost5 to 8
palmatumGreen5 to 8
palmatumGreen Hornet5 to 8
palmatumGreen Mist5 to 8
palmatumHefner’s Red5 to 8
palmatumHogyoku5 to 8
palmatumHubb’s Red Willow5 to 8
palmatumIijima Sunago5 to 8
palmatumKagiri Nishiki5 to 8
palmatumMurasaki Kiyohime5 to 8
palmatumOsakazuki5 to 8
palmatumOctopus5 to 8
palmatumOshio Beni5 to 8
palmatumPeaches & Cream5 to 8
palmatumPixie5 to 8
palmatumRed Cloud5 to 8
palmatumRed Emperor5 to 8
palmatumRugose5 to 8
palmatumSagara Nishiki5 to 8
palmatumSango Kaku5 to 8
palmatumShigarami5 to 8
palmatumShirazz5 to 8
palmatumShu Shidare5 to 8
palmatumSister Ghost5 to 8
palmatumSkeeters Broom5 to 8
palmatumScolopendrifolium5 to 8
palmatumTiger Rose5 to 8
palmatumTrompenburg5 to 8
palmatumTsukushigata5 to 8
palmatumWinter Flame5 to 8
dissectum (Laceleaf)Ever Red5 to 9
dissectum (Laceleaf)Lion Heart5 to 9
palmatumGlowing Embers5 to 9
palmatumPurple Ghost5 to 9
palmatumRed Sentinel5 to 9
palmatumRuby Stars5 to 9
palmatumTwisted Japanese red maple Tree5 to 9
dissectum (Laceleaf)Orangeola6 to 8
dissectum (Laceleaf)Red Select6 to 8
dissectum (Laceleaf)Seiryu6 to 8
palmatumBeni Schichihenge6 to 8
palmatumBoskoop Glory6 to 8
palmatumEmperor I6 to 8
palmatumFireglow6 to 8
palmatumMoonfire6 to 8
palmatumOmure yama6 to 8
palmatumShaina6 to 8
palmatumShishigashira6 to 8
palmatumShishio Improved6 to 8

Generally, most Japanese Maple bonsai trees are USDA cold hardy to zone 5 and a few are rated as zone 4. Many varieties of Japanese Maple trees are heat-rated, reaching a zone of up to zone 8, and several are also rated for zone 9.

Since Japanese Maple bonsai comes in different sizes and shapes it is important to know how big the bonsai tree is going to grow. Japanese Maple Bonsai needs to experience the dormant period that is why it is best to grow outdoors but it needs adequate protection during the winter period.

3) Where to Plant Your Japanese Maple Bonsai

Being successful in your Japanese Maples is somehow similar to being successful venturing in real estate. It depends on the location because if you have the right location to plant your Japanese Maple, then it will thrive, thus, it is important to be creative. It is crucial to provide your bonsai the utmost protection against the direct and damaging exposure from the sun.

During the late afternoon and in the evening, the sun is reduced, thus preventing sun scald, leaf scorch, and reduced watering necessary, just enough to keep the soil moist and cool. You can provide the right amount of sun without causing sun damage through placing your bonsai in a location with good exposure to the sun in the morning but with enough shade to prevent direct exposure.

Also, bonsai plants that are under stress will likely develop diseases and damaged by pests like insects. So, you need to provide the right environment for your bonsai to reduce plant stress, allowing your bonsai tree to remain healthy and beautiful for many years of enjoyment.

The perfect environment for your Japanese Maples is a property with large shade trees  Dappled shade and filtered shaded locations are ideal for Japanese Maple bonsai trees.

Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree

TIP #1: While 4 to 6 hours of morning direct sunlight is highly beneficial in maintaining the red pigment of Japanese Maple trees with red leaves, they prefer a late afternoon or evening dappled shade in southern states. If you have a Japanese Maple bonsai tree with red leaves before, but now has mostly green leaves, you can thin out current taller trees that are creating more morning shades than required. In northern states, bonsai trees need dappled shade but not absolutely necessary.

TIP #2: Japanese Maple bonsai trees with green leaves need late afternoon shade in the southern states. In the northern states, a full day sun is okay.

TIP #3: Trees with multi-colored and variegated leaves need more shade as compared to green or red leafed varieties.

TIP #4: If you’re not sure how your Japanese Maple bonsai tree will do in its new home, it is totally fine to temporarily plant it in the pot it is growing in, then observe how it does. If your bonsai does not show signs of leaf burn,  its current location should be fine for the final planting destination.

Now, you are more knowledgeable when it comes to know is the best place and time to plant your Japanese Maple bonsai. Avoid leaving your bonsai tree growing in its container or pot for too long because a week or two should be fine. Of course, you don’t your bonsai to have roots that start growing into a native soil while your bonsai is still in the pot.

4) Right Watering Technique

Japanese Maple Bonsai prefers a slightly acidic environment that is why rainwater is preferred to be used to water the plant rather than tap water. It can’t tolerate drought that is why consistent moisture in the soil should be observed.

It is advisable to water the plant before the heat to ensure that the plant will have sufficient water to make it. Like any other plants if given an insufficient amount of water it may lead to some nutrient deficiencies, root problems and worst it may die. The main purpose of watering is to fully saturate the soil.

You’ll need to water the plant from above using a fine nozzle watering can so that the soil won’t be washed out. Just be sure to water the bonsai tree thoroughly until the entire root mass is wetted. Like any other plants if given an insufficient amount of water it may lead to some nutrient deficiencies, root problems and worst it may die.

Tips on How to Water a Bonsai Plant

Tip #1: When the soil gets slightly dry, then this is already an indication that it is the perfect time to water your plant. You can use your fingers to check if the soil is already dry at around 1 cm deep.

Tip #2: The choice of soil mixture is important in growing bonsai plants because it determines how often you need to water the plant. If your soil mixture retains more water then it is not advisable to water the plant regularly.

Tip #3: It is advisable to water the bonsai before the heat to ensure that the plant will have sufficient water to make it.

Best Watering Technique for Japanese Maple

Watering is a crucial aspect of taking care of Japanese Maple Bonsai trees. Watering Japanese Maples is not a rocket science, but it is important to keep a sufficient soil moisture.  In the natural world of trees, Japanese Maple trees are considered shallow rooters.

Most feeder roots of Japanese Maples are within 12 to 18n inches of the surface for old and well-established maple trees. Newly planted Japanese maple trees may have all their root shallower than that.

Japanese Maple trees prefer even soil moisture. Their leaves are very thin in most varieties, and dry out and burn faster when the soil moisture is not sufficient. Here are some tips for you when watering your Japanese Maple bonsai tree.

Tip #1: If the tree is planted during spring, you need to monitor newly planted trees daily. Check the soil moisture a few inches below the surface. Water every 2 to 3 days for the first month after planting. After which, watering once a week is enough, but you need to regularly monitor it because windy days can dry out the soil quickly. If your bonsai tree is fall planted, water it once a week when no snow or rain cover is provided.

Tip #2: Make sure to always provide a layer of mulch around your Japanese Maple bonsai trees. This will help in reducing the loss of moisture in the soil due to evaporation. Because the roots of Japanese Maples are so shallow, the wind and sun can damage their shallow roots if not protected.

Japanese Maple bonsai trees, like any other plant, will benefit from water. Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot and fungi. Avoid underwatering to avoid dehydration. You’ll know when to water by feeling the soil at least a knuckle deep and check if it is moist. Pricking the soil with a stick also helps.

5) Fertilizing or applying fertilizer

Older and more mature Japanese Maple bonsai tree is fertilized less frequently. The three basic elements that should be present in the soil are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K). Each element serves a different purpose. Nitrogen encourages the growth of leaves and stem, Phosphorus promotes healthy root growth and Potassium is the one responsible for the overall health of the bonsai plant.

During spring, feeding the tree with a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer every two weeks is advisable since the buds need an extra boost while they are on the flowering stage.

During summer, give the plant a nitrogen-free fertilizer with decreased feeding in preparation for the winter period wherein you don’t need to feed the tree. Through fertilization, you are feeding the soil not the bonsai tree itself that is why it is important to learn proper techniques to ensure that the soil gets optimum nutrients necessary for growth.

Tips on How to Fertilize a Bonsai Tree

Tip #1:  It is not advisable to fertilize a bonsai tree if it is unhealthy or if it is suffering from plant disease because the nutrients are not absorbed properly. Instead only fertilize t if it becomes healthy.

Tip #2:  If you are using a commercialized fertilizer, make sure to read the instructions and guidelines to avoid over fertilizing. Over-fertilizing may lead to nutrient burn.

Tip #3: Before fertilizing make sure to water your plant first, never fertilize it if it is dry because the bonsai plant can only absorb nutrients if the soil is moisturized.

The Japanese Maple bonsai tree is a highly recommended bonsai tree for new bonsai growers because it does not require a lot of maintenance and care. Fertilizers are not frequently used for older bonsai trees. Growing a bonsai tree is not all about gardening but it provides therapeutic value that enhances one’s creativity.

6) How to Prune and Shape Your Japanese Maples

Pruning your Japanese Maple bonsai tree correctly is important to its overall health. Pruning at the incorrect time may cause major damage or possibly even killing your bonsai.

When to Prune

Prune your Japanese Maple bonsai tree twice a year. For the first pruning, it should be done in mid-winter before setting in of a any warmer weather. In most states, early February is the best. In southern states with zones 7 to 10,  January is the recommended time. This is the best time to do any major training or corrective pruning.

Avoid pruning in late-winter and in early-spring because pruning at this time may trigger your bonsai to start growing faster as soon as the weather starts to get warmer. Early growth may result to freeze damage, and may even kill your bonsai tree. Your bonsai needs a light second-pruning right after the hardening of spring flush of growth. This is done to clean up any unwanted wild growth, thus making the tree more presentable.

Why Prune Your Bonsai

Prune your bonsai to remove branches or stems that are growing out of proportion, and rubbing branches. You can also prune your Japanese Maple bonsai to reduce its overall size during the deep dormancy period. It is fine to remove up to 1/3 of the overall size of your bonsai if necessary.

Where to Prune Your Bonsai

As with all other bonsai trees and plants, the correct way of pruning will eliminate any unsightly looking dead stems, and it helps in training your bonsai plant to look based on your desired shape and form.

Japanese Maple bonsai trees have “opposite buds”. These are the smallest branches that grow out of larger branches two at a time and growing directly across from each other. They form a “Y” looking branch with another branch at the center or the main branch. Just imagine it as a Y in a road, with another road that is going straight, so you now have a total of 3 roads in front of you.

When you’re pruning Japanese Maple Bonsai trees, you may want to remove the branch at the center and leave the two branches to form the “Y”. Pruning as close to the center of the “Y” is the best, leaving only a small amount at the center of the stem.

Shaping Your Japanese Maples

Shaping Japanese Maple bonsai trees is fun and exciting. The most popular bonsai shaping styles for Japanese Maples are informal upright,  twin trunk, groups, clump, broom, and weeping.

The correct way of pruning will lead to faster and proper healing and become quickly unnoticeable. You can use this technique from the smallest stems to the largest branches. It is also effective in forming a symmetrical growing bonsai tree.

7) How to Make a Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree

If you are into plants and gardening then transforming a Japanese maple or scientifically known as the Acer palmatum to a bonsai tree is an amazing hobby. These are the type of trees which are perfect and ideal for bonsai growing. The beauty of this small maple tree is that it will also grow the same way as the normal bigger version of the tree. The bonsai maple tree will also change its colors as the season changes especially in the mesmerizing colors autumn colors, and you will witness this in your own garden.

This is the reason why the Japanese maple bonsai tree is a famous choice of bonsai species among bonsai enthusiasts. Japanese maple bonsai trees are very decorative, colorful and ornamental foliage. Maple trees are deciduous types of small trees, that has odd numbers and pointed leaves. Normally, it has  5  to 11 pointed leaves and this depends on the genus and species of the maples. You can usually find maples in countries like Japan, China, and Korea.

Growing your maple bonsai tree only requires you to prepare few things in order to be successful. But most importantly, your passion and interest in growing bonsai should be there.

Step-by-Step Guide

Ideally, during the early summer, you can remove a softwood cutting of the maple cultivar of your choice. This is done because maple trees are much easier to cultivate if it comes from cuttings.

Step #1: To start, choose a branch of the maple tree which looks appealing by checking its shape.  The branch of the tree should be around the diameter of your little finger to be considered ideal for cutting.

There are so many cultivars options of Japanese maple. You must choose according to your heart’s desire or your passion. There are some bonsai growers who wanted to grow larger types compared to others, while some type of bonsai sports a rough bark and others will need grafting.

You might want to remind yourself that the Japanese maple which is red-leafed cultivars have a tendency to develop a weak root system and are commonly grafted from the other rootstocks. Except if you know how to make a graft or there is someone knowledgeable that can help you, this is suggested in order to refrain from the red-leafed cultivars until such a time that you have gained more experience.

Step #2: It is suggested by bonsai growers that you take several cuttings. In this way, you get an assurance that at least one will take well because there are times that the roots are weak, might have rotten or they simply just do not form. You have to make a cut around the base of the branch, this is where the roots will soon grow.

  1. Start with a circular cut through the bark. Then into the hardwood inside it.
  2. Then make a second cut in about two branch widths just below the very first cut.
  3. Then connect the two cuts by making a straight vertical cut in the middle to connect the first two cuts.
  4. Remove the bark in between the first two cuts. In this scenario, the bark could be peeled off easily.
  5. You have to ensure that none of the green layer beneath the bark or the cambium layer is left.

Step #3: Establishing the roots of your Japanese Maple Bonsai. Using a rooting hormone, you have to sprinkle it on the top cut or you can also wipe it using a rooting gel. Then cover that area with wet sphagnum moss, and then wrap it this time using a plastic and secure it in place with a tie.

Make sure to always keep the moss wet. Just after several weeks, the roots should be visible through the plastic covering. The alternative is to put the branches in a gritty and good quality compost. Always keep the compost medium moist or wet. Within 2 to 3 weeks, you can expect now that the roots will start to form, provided that the stock taken is well maintained, healthy and keep in warm and moist conditions.

Step #4: The process of planting your Japanese Maple Bonsai tree. This time separate the tree. Remove your new tree by cutting it off just below the new roots. The indicator is when the roots would start to grow thick and turn to brown.

In the bottom of the pot, put some small pebbles to serve as drainage. Partially fill The container should be partially filled out with good quality topsoil. A good mix would consist of around 80 percent bark and then 20 percent peat. This kind of topsoil would allow fine fibrous feeder roots to grow and also provides a good drainage. Remove the plastic cover and plant the new tree make sure not to disturb the roots. Adding soil if necessary in order to set firmly in place the tree.

Adding of the sphagnum moss is good and helpful in areas where water is scarce.

By placing a small stake, this will prevent the tree from moving while it is starting to establish itself. Any kind of movement could cause a detrimental damage to its then delicate roots.

Tips to Consider

Tip #1: Keep the maple bonsai tree under a shelter for a couple of years.

Tip #2: Maintain a healthy diet based on the season.

Tip #3: Keep your tree moist all the time and ideally use rainwater than tap water. So spraying water regularly is good for the growth of the tree.

Tip #4: Then as the tree grows, you can now start styling it. Some growers would put frames and trim them regularly to get the desired design or look they wanted. You can learn that too if you put into action your passion and most importantly is you never stop learning new ways to improve your skills.

You can slowly savor the moment and enjoy your new tree grow! Make sure to locate an ideal outdoor space to grow your bonsai like your porch, the garden bed area or your patio. Bonsai trees are generally outdoor plants but you can still take inside the house or indoors but make sure to only keep them inside just for a day or two then put them outside again. The bonsai are only brought indoors when they are in leaf, or during winter bring them inside only for an hour.

8) Transplanting Tips

The successful transplanting of a Japanese Maple tree is based on several factors, which include the following:

  • size of the bonsai tree to be transplanted.
  • age of your bonsai tree.
  • its overall health and condition of the roots.
  • right timing.

Size of Your Bonsai Tree

This is the most important factor whether or not your bonsai tree will be able to survive a transplant. Any size bonsai tree can be moved if the root system is undamaged during the process of transplanting.

For instance, the root system of an old and mature 6 to 8 ft Crimson Queen Japanese Maple, that is allowed to develop naturally without restrictions can spread out over 12 ft wide and up to 3 ft deep. It is a possible huge root ball and you probably cannot handle with having the right equipment.

On the other hand, a 3 to a 4-year-old bonsai tree, 3 ft tall and wide. this is a size a homeowner can move only requiring some help. Generally, a bonsai tree with a trunk caliper of less than an inch can be moved with a 12 to 18 in the root ball. It weighs about 50 to 80 lbs and grows tall and wide. A 1 to 2 in caliper tree would require an 18 to 24 in root ball that weighs about 80 to 150 lbs, and a 2 to 3 in caliper tree with a 24 to 30 in root ball that weighs about 150 to 300 lbs.

Age of Your Bonsai Tree

Age is also an important factor to consider because the older your bonsai tree is, the further away from the bonsai trunk the feeder roots are situated. Basically, the root tips are the parts of your bonsai where the majority of water and essential nutrients are absorbed. The part between the root tip of your bonsai and the trunk is for structural support, doing very little to keep your bonsai plant nourished. The older your bonsai is, and the larger it is, the larger the root ball, having adequate viable root tips to continue to supplying water and nutrients to your Japanese Maple bonsai tree.

Overall Health and Condition of the Root System

A healthy bonsai tree has a better root system and more likely surviving a transplant. A bonsai tree that looks sick likely has a compromised root system. Some roots are viable and can be severed, causing the tree to die when it is stressed because of drought or heat.

Right Timing

Right timing is important. Transplant your bonsai in late winter or very early spring, before your bonsai tree would begin breaking bud. It will give your tree the shortest time when the roots become compromised before the soil begins to warm up while allowing the new roots to grow. By cutting some of the roots of your bonsai when digging, automatically be set back the root ball and avoid pushing out new leaves quickly. It provides additional time for the root system to become more established before your bonsai tree needs to support all the newly grown leaves.

Tips When Transplanting

Tip #1: Prune only about 25% of your bonsai tree canopy back during the process of transplanting. It reduces the stress on your bonsai tree’s smaller root system.

Tip #2: Add a low amount of nitrogen fertilizer as well as a root stimulator during transplanting to help nourish your bonsai tree and aid in its survival.

Tip #3: Keeping the soil moist help but not completely wet to avoid attracting fungus causing bud rot. Roots tend to grow when they are looking for water, so keeping the overly wet will cause weak roots because they don’t need to grow. Because of the tree’s weak root system, it will become stressed faster and will have a much lower survival rate.


Just follow these tips and you will be able to transplant your Japanese Maple bonsai tree successfully.

9) Re-potting Your Japanese Maple Bonsai

Young Japanese Maples, under 10 years old, need to be re-potted every 1 to 2 years. Those that are more mature should be re-potted every 2 to 3 years. Re-potting should be done in spring, accompanied by root pruning because roots can grow relatively fast, so they can be pruned aggressively. Removing up to half the roots’ length most especially younger bonsai is important. Japanese species has a shallow root system that can be planted in a shallow pot, but larger enough to allow vigorous root growth.

Things You’ll Need:

  • Potting soil
  • Container
  • Compost
  • Pruning shears
  • Trowel
  • Knife
  • Fertilizer
  • Garden hose


Place your Japanese Maple bonsai tree (potted) in an area receiving partial shade to prevent avoid overheating.

Container-grown bonsai, like Japanese maples, allow homeowners with poor soil or small yards to enjoy ornamental trees, helping in developing their landscape even in limited spaces property.

A Japanese Maple bonsai makes a good focal point in Asian-style or Zen landscapes because of their twisting and gnarly trunks, as well as their lacy palmate leaves. Including a container-grown Japanese Maple around a pond, patio, or walkway will definitely add flair to any bland area.

Japanese Maple bonsai trees that are potted will become crowded or root bound in their pots every 2 to 3 years, so they should be re-potted for continuous growth.

Step #1: Know the best time to re-pot. Remember that re-potting your crowded or root-bound Japanese Maple bonsai on November or February, at the start or final stage of the dormant season. Choosing a pot or container with a 2-inch diameter larger than the current container of the tree is important. Choose a pot with drainage holes, and choose a light color to avoid the root ball of the bonsai from overheating.

Step #2: Mixing one part well-draining potting bonsai soil with one part compost is important. Using a trowel to stir the different materials together, and breaking up any large chunks would be helpful. The new container should be filled with 1/4 full with the bonsai growing medium.

Step #3: Tip the bonsai pot to its side gently and carefully so as not to jar the bonsai tree. Slide the root ball of the bonsai out of the pot. Trimming off 1/3 of the bonsai tree’s roots should be done, removing any diseased or damaged roots with the use of pruning shears. Make 2 or 3 cuts, with a depth of 4 inches, into the bottom of the bonsai root ball using a knife. Spreading the bottom of the bonsai root ball apart to spread out the roots should be carried out with care.

Step #4: Place your Japanese Maple bonsai in the center of the new pot with the roots fanned out from the bottom. Remove or add soil underneath the bonsai tree until the top of its bonsai root ball sits 2 inches below the top part of the pot. The, add additional compost soil to the container around the sides of the bonsai root ball, tamping the compost soil down firmly. Continue adding layers of compost soil around the bonsai root ball, and tamp each layer down firmly, providing stability to the bonsai tree. The planting process ends when the new surface of the soil is on top of the bonsai root ball.

Step #5: Water your Japanese Maple bonsai tree until the water starts to run out from the drainage holes at the bottom of the container. Allow the bonsai pot to drain completely, then water it one more time.

Re-potting your Japanese Maples should be done every 2 to 3 years because root bound may occur otherwise. Generally, the steps and principles apply the same to other bonsai species.

Final Thoughts

The Japanese Maple bonsai tree is known for its delicate foliage and beautiful shades of gold, orange and red during autumn.

It requires greater commitment to grow a bonsai tree than to plant any other plant. The Japanese Maple bonsai tree is known for its delicate foliage and beautiful shades of gold, orange and red during autumn.

It requires greater commitment to grow a bonsai tree than to plant any other plant. The Japanese Maple bonsai tree is a highly recommended bonsai tree for new bonsai growers because it does not require a lot of maintenance and care.

Growing a bonsai tree is not all about gardening but it provides therapeutic value that enhances one’s creativity. Share all your learnings in your social media account, and feel free to comment below!