August 2, 2021

Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree: 6 Tips For Better Care [2021]

A care guide for a japanese maple bonsai tree is one of the most difficult and delicate plants you can have in your home. If you’re interested in owning this plant, it’s important to know the Japanese maple bonsai tree care guide very closely. This blog post will teach you everything from watering techniques to pruning tips so that your Japanese maple bonsai tree thrives!

Here are 6 steps for your Japanese bonsai tree care:

1. The bonsai should be watered thoroughly once per week, and the soil should be allowed to dry out between watering

2. Fertilize the bonsai with a half-strength solution of water soluble fertilizer every two weeks

3. Trim back any branches that are growing too long or in an undesirable direction

4. Prune your japanese maple bonsai during its dormancy period for best results

5. Use a liquid houseplant insecticide if aphids are present on the leaves

6. Keep your japanese maple bonsai away from direct sunlight when possible

Watering for better Japanese Maple bonsai tree care

The watering of the Japanese maple bonsai tree should be done thoroughly but not excessively.

Watering should take place once a week, during which you check the soil for dryness and need to water accordingly. If the soil is dry, watering can be done through watering it daily or twice depending on your watering schedule.

Make sure that the leaves and the watering can itself is not dripping, watering should be done until it runs from the drainage holes and then some.

Here are a few more tips on watering your Japanese maple bonsai tree:

You should avoid watering your plant in the evening or at night. By watering during this time, you risk water run-off and root rot.

Watering frequency

To keep the watering frequency to once a week, you should check your soil for moisture by sticking your finger into it.

If you feel moist soil at about 1-2 inches deep, watering is not necessary. You can also use a humidity indicator which will tell you when watering is needed.

This device checks the amount of moisture in the air and will tell you when watering is needed. It should be placed close the soil, approximately 1-2 cm deep.

Closed container watering for better Japanese maple bonsai tree care

Closed container watering is also recommended for japanese maple bonsai tree watering once per week during its dormancy period. By watering this way, you are simulating natural rainfall and can reduce watering frequency to about 2-4 times a month.

Pre-watering your plant

Pre-water your plant for watering in the evening and watering should be done in the morning or daytime. This will reduce watering frequency and better simulate natural rainfall.

If you follow these steps on watering Japanese maple bonsai, your japanese maple bonsai tree watering schedule will be complete.

Fertilizing a Japanese maple bonsai tree

Since fertilizing is necessary for a healthy Japanese maple bonsai tree, you would need to fertilize approximately every 2 weeks throughout the growing season.

During dormancy, fertilizing can be reduced to once per month or stop altogether until new growth begins again.

How to prepare your fertilizer

Prepare fertilizers by first diluting fertilizers 1/2-strength with water and then fertilize the plant as you would any normal plant.

Trimming a Japanese maple bonsai tree

If trimming seems necessary due to overgrowth or dead branches, do so during its dormancy period for best results. You can prune it back by up to one-third without harming the plant if done during dormancy.

Getting the best shape for your Japanese maple bonsai tree care

To get the best growth and shape for your japanese maple bonsai, be sure to prune it properly with clean cuts without damaging inner branches or buds.

This will result in less scarring of the tree and better healing. Keep in mind that winter is not a time of active growth so cutting can take place during this time.

Pruning your Japanese maple bonsai tree

You should be able to see the tree’s structure well enough to know how much to prune back.

The most common leaf shapes for japanese maple bonsai are lobed or scalloped, which are large and smaller in size respectively.

What look do you want

If you want your Japanese maple bonsai to have more of a formal appearance by having smaller lobed leaves, you should prune all but one leaf from each branch.

If you want a more natural look, then leave the largest leaves on the branches for an overall appearance that looks more like a naturally growing tree.

In addition to removing large or small sized lobed leaves, dead and overgrown branches can also be removed during pruning. Dead branches or those that are crossing over can be removed freely as you see fit to make the tree look better.

Leaves should be removed by cutting just above a node or leaf joint and not into it. This will prevent the risk of damaging the branch or bud that is below that point, which would delay the growth of new leaves.

Liquid houseplant insecticide

Your japanese maple bonsai tree will also need to be sprayed with insecticide. Mix the recommended amount of insecticide into water and spray on the top and bottom of leaves as well as exposed branches.

Common pests you need to eradicate

One common problem affecting Japanese maple bonsai trees is scale insects.

These are often found on leaves, twigs and branches and should be easily identifiable by their characteristic shells.

Scale insects are most active during warm months when they reproduce quickly and cover the plant in a sticky substance that can cause yellowing or browning leaves.

This is the best time to spray your japanese maple bonsai with insecticide to control scale insects. Using an insecticidal soap is an effective way to control scale insects.

And there are spider mites

Another common problem affecting japanese maple bonsai trees is spider mites, which are most active during hot and dry months when they move quickly from leaf to leaf while sucking the plant’s sap.

Spider mites will cause leaves to become brown or yellow in color and have a speckling or stippling appearance.

Spider mites can be controlled with insecticidal soap, horticultural oil and a mid-range to high pressure nozzle on your hose.

You want the water coming from the nozzle to be forceful enough that it is blowing off the spider mites with adequate coverage but without damaging the plant’s leaves or buds in any way.

Another way to control spider mites is by introducing a predator insect that feeds on the spider mites.

Best option to stop spider mites

The best option would be ladybugs, which forgo the use of pesticides and are more efficient at controlling spider mites then chemical insecticides and soap sprays will ever be.

Ladybugs eat as many as 50-75 spider mites in a day and have been used by farmers for years to control mite infestations on crops.

To introduce ladybugs into your garden, release the insects early in the fall or over winter when they are available from nurseries in large numbers.

You can also purchase them online if you find that this is more effective than purchasing locally.

Direct sunlight and your Japanese maple bonsai tree care guide

A lot of people wonder how to care for a Japanese maple bonsai tree in direct sunlight.

They want the benefits that the natural sunlight will give them but don’t know what they should do to make sure their japanese maple bonsai tree stays healthy through this change of conditions.

When you move your Japanese maple bonsai from a shady area and into direct sunlight, you will have to water it more often.

Watering your tree every day is recommended in the initial stages as this will allow you to avoid over watering once established in the new conditions. If you still do not know how to tell if your japanese maple bonsai tree needs watering, then lightly stick your finger into the soil and see how dry or moist it is.

Usually at least a 1/2 inch of moisture is needed to keep healthy growth going during any stage.

However, if you feel that there is no moisture in the soil then do not risk watering as this will damage roots and soils take longer than most people think to absorb water.


Now that you know the 6 steps to caring for your Japanese bonsai tree, are you ready to take care of it like a pro?

If not, we can help! Subscribe in our newsletter and get more tips on how to keep your japanese maple bonsai healthy.

About the author 

Greg Reed

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