Generally, Japanese maples are more cold hardy than heat tolerant. I have grown thousands of potted trees and very seldom have any died because of normal winter cold temperatures. Most cold damage is caused by late freezes in spring after the trees have leafed out.
TIP 1 Maintain a thick bed 3-4 inches of mulch around the base of each tree at least the diameter of the tree canopy. This will help keep the soil cool for as long as possible in early spring. Keeping the roots cool will help to postpone early bud break and leaf emergence.
TIP 2 Avoid early spring feeding with fast release type fertilizers. I recommend using a controlled-release type fertilizer like POLYON 20-10-5 for a slower release in cool soils. Best-pacs are simple to use and this formulation will provide your Japanese maples with the best proper nourishment for an entire year.
TIP 3 Avoid early spring pruning. Any trimming will encourage your plants and trees to grow. This is great during warm growing months, but not in early spring when plants are on the verge of new spring growth. It is best to prune about the time of your last freeze date for your zone. Also avoid pruning Japanese maples in fall and winter because sometimes very cold winters can cause twig dieback. Wait until spring to trim or prune when you can also remove any dead twigs or stems.
TIP 4 Can you plant a Japanese maple tree in a pot or container for your deck or patio? Yes, but keep in mind the roots will experience colder temperatures than if it was planted in the ground. A general rule of thumb is the roots of a plant are 2 zones less cold hardy than the above ground portion of the plant. So if your tree is rated as a zone 5 (-10 degrees to -20 degrees F.) the roots are only cold hardy to zone 7 (if the roots are less hardy in a pot, shouldn’t this then be Zone 3? Perhaps an easier way to say this if this is the case, “If you plan to have your tree in a pot that remains outside all year, it is better to buy a plant that is 2 zones colder than your region.”) (10degrees to 0 degrees F.) Southern states will have a much better success with Japanese maples in containers.
If you are not sure of your hardiness zone click here and enter your zip code to find it.
FYI hardiness zones are only a guide for what is normal in your location. Abnormal temperatures can put you into a colder or warmer zone for that season. Planting Japanese maples, as well as other plants or trees, outside of your hardiness zone can be done, but it’s risky.
Most Japanese maples are USDA cold hardy to zone 5 although a few are rated for zone 4.
Most varieties of Japanese maples are heat-rated up to zone 8, although several are rated for zone 9.
Below is a cold hardiness rating of many varieties of Japanese maples.
If you would like to learn more or purchase a specific variety of Japanese maple click the variety link to our
TYPE VARIETY HARDINESS
|dissectum (Laceleaf)||Inaba shidare||5-8|
|dissectum (Laceleaf)||Crimson Queen||5-8|
|dissectum (Laceleaf)||Red Dragon||5-8|
|palmatum||atro-purpureum (Small Pots)||5-8|
|palmatum||Peaches & Cream||5-8|
|palmatum||Ao shime no uchi||5-8|
|palmatum||Hubb's Red Willow||5-8|
|dissectum (Laceleaf)||Lion Heart||5-9|
|dissectum (Laceleaf)||Ever Red||5-9|
|palmatum||Twisted Japanese red maple Tree||5-9|
|dissectum (Laceleaf)||Red Select||6-8|