How To Take Care of Japanese Maple Tree Bonsai

A Japanese maple bonsai can make a wonderful addition to your home or garden, but before you run out and buy one, make sure you understand what it takes to care for it properly.

The key to successfully growing maple bonsai is to understand the bonsai basics of watering, feeding, and pruning and to adapt them to your particular type of maple.

Japanese maples are popular as bonsai trees, and they do well in containers. While the Japanese maple is one of the easier bonsai trees to grow, they do require some special care.

Here in this post, I will discuss what you need to do to grow Japanese Maple Bonsai trees.

So let’s start…

What is A Japanese Maple tree:

A Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is a deciduous tree native to Japan, Korea, China, eastern Mongolia, and southeast Russia. The trees grow wild in these areas, where they can reach up to 25 feet tall.

However, the Japanese have been cultivating them for hundreds of years to create dwarf varieties that are perfectly suited to growing in containers such as bonsai.


Japanese maple varieties vary greatly in size, texture, shape, and color—you’re sure to find a maple suited to your space!

The most common species used is the Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), but other species such as Acer japonicum and Acer shirasawanum are also suitable. Some of the Japanese maple varieties that are best for growing as a bonsai are :

  • Acer palmatum Atropurpureum (Purple Japanese Maple) – This species features deep purple foliage with red stems that add to its beauty.
  • Acer palmatum Dissectum (Laceleaf Japanese Maple) – This type of Japanese maple tree has beautiful leaves, divided into thread-like segments. The leaves turn bright yellow and orange in autumn.
  • Acer palmatum Variegatum (Variegated Japanese Maple) – These types of maples have beautiful white or pink margins around the edges of their green leaves.

Is Japanese Maple Good for Bonsai?

Japanese maples are great for bonsai. They are small, slow-growing, and have tiny leaves that look good in all seasons. Unlike many other trees, they tend to have a lot of character in their bark.

How To Take Care Of Japanese Maple Bonsai Trees

The following list of qualities will help you decide if a Japanese maple bonsai is right for you:

japanese maple bonsai care

Light and Placement:

The first thing that you need to consider for growing a Japanese maple bonsai is the placement of the plant. Your Japanese Maple will be happiest in dappled shade, especially in the hot summer months when the temperature rises above 30 °C.

The best place to put a Japanese maple bonsai is where it receives morning or evening sun, and gets shade during mid-day.

Never place the bonsai near heating vents or air conditioning units, as this can dry out the soil quickly and cause damage to the leaves. If it’s a sunny day outside, a shaded area is best for this variety of bonsai as it can burn easily in direct sunlight.

In winter place your Japanese Maple in full sun if possible, as long as temperatures don’t go below freezing for extended periods of time.


I’ve found that watering a Japanese maple bonsai once a day is sufficient, but you may need to water twice a day if it’s especially hot outside and the soil dries out too quickly. Water as soon as the soil becomes dry to prevent the leaves from drying up.

During the winter months, you will only have to water it once a week or so. If your soil dries out completely, it could kill the tree.

it is best to water your bonsai with rainwater but you can also use normal tap water.

But don’t over-water; You do not want the soil to be too wet either because will rot the root system and also kill your tree.

When watering your bonsai, make sure that water drains out of the pot’s holes at the bottom. This will prevent root rot caused by excess moisture inside the pot.


Fertilize your Japanese maple tree bonsai once every two weeks during its growing season. Use a good-quality organic fertilizer like this one to feed your maple bonsai.

Avoid fertilizers that have a high nitrogen concentration. It will create large leaves and internodes that are very difficult to manage.

Don’t feed the maple for several weeks after repotting, allow this time for the bonsai tree to grow delicate roots.


Your Japanese maple bonsai tree should be pruned regularly to maintain its size and to shape them as you desire. Pruning can also help the tree grow strong and healthy.

Cut back the branches as much as possible. Branches that are too long will cause the tree to become unhealthy and die.


Repot the Japanese maple bonsai every other spring, or when roots appear out of the drainage holes. Repot before new growth begins in the spring when the maple is still dormant.

Remove the maple bonsai from the container and cut away about one-third of the root ball. Return to the same container and backfill with soil mixture. Be sure to use a bonsai-specific soil mixture when repotting.

You can read my earlier post about repotting a bonsai for more details.

Water thoroughly after repotting.


The best time to propagate a Japanese maple bonsai is during the spring and summer months. This ensures that the seeds will germinate successfully.

When propagating a Japanese maple bonsai, remove all dead leaves and branches from the tree before you begin planting new ones.

Don’t forget to water the seedlings regularly until they have reached full maturity.

Pest and Diseases:

Insects and diseases will attack your Japanese maple tree bonsai if its roots are not kept moist, or if it is left in low humidity conditions.

Common pests of the Japanese maple include aphids and scale insects, which can cause the leaves to yellow and fall off.

Look for fine webbing on the underside of the leaves as well as small insects if you think your tree has a spider mite infestation. Mites can be killed with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.

Scale insects can be removed with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol, while aphids can be removed by spraying them with water from a pressure sprayer. You can also use insecticidal soaps or sprays that contain pyrethrin for heavy infestations.

Leaves of the Japanese maple may turn yellow and fall prematurely. It can be due to various reasons like if the soil does not drain properly, you are using too much nitrogen fertilizer or if your tree has contracted bacterial leaf scorch.

The best way to combat bacterial leaf scorch is to make sure your tree’s roots stay moist at all times since dry roots make your tree more susceptible to disease.


In summary, adding a Japanese maple tree bonsai to your home or office is a great way to introduce a bit of nature into your life and really allow your creative side to shine.

If you have any interest in owning a bonsai tree, I assure you that it is not as hard as many make it seem. All you really need to do is learn how to take care of your tree and be patient with the process.

So if you feel up for the challenge, I strongly encourage you to give Japanese maple bonsai trees a shot once!

I hope this post was helpful for you. If you like the post share it with others and spread the information.