Large Boskoop Glory being protected from late afternoon and evening sun by a larger Oak Tree. Also a Crimson Queen being protected by both trees.

Where to Plant a Japanese Maple Tree

Being successful with Japanese maples is the same as being successful with real estate; it all depends on

location, location, location.  A proper location to plant a Japanese maple sometimes requires being creative. Protection from late afternoon and evening sun will reduce leaf scorch, sun scald and reduce the amount of watering necessary to keep the soil cool and moist. Also plants under stress are more likely to develop diseases and insect damage.

Providing the correct environment is crucial to reducing plant stress, which will allow your tree to remain healthy for many years of enjoyment.

Having a property with large existing shade trees to plant your Japanese maple under makes a perfect environment. Such filtered or dappled shade is ideal for Japanese maples.

TIP 1 In southern states, Japanese maples with red leaves prefer late afternoon and evening dappled shade, although four to six hours of direct morning sunlight is beneficial to maintain the red pigment in the leaves. If you have an existing tree that had red leaves in the past but now the leaves are mostly green, try thinning out existing taller trees that may be creating more morning shade than necessary. In northern states, dappled shade is beneficial but not absolutely necessary.

TIP 2 Japanese maples with green leaves prefer some late afternoon shade in southern states. In northern states full day sun is fine.

TIP 3 Trees with variegated and multi-colored leaves require more shade than the red or green leafed varieties. 

TIP 4 If you are not sure how your tree will do in its new home, you can temporarily plant the tree in the pot it’s growing in and see how it does. If the leaves don’t show any signs of burning, the location should be fine for planting. Don’t leave the tree growing in the pot too long. A week or two is fine, but you don’t want the roots to start growing into the native soil while the tree is still in the pot.