Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

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The Japanese maple (Acer palmatum or palmate maple) is a small but fascinating tree that is more and more often seen in Italian gardens. It belongs to the Aceracee family, and as can be deduced from the name it comes from the Far East. The deciduous leaves are palmate, 5 or 7 lobed, and elegantly carved. The cultivated varieties, which can be arranged both in earth and in pots, are: Ornatum, with thin burgundy leaves, Japonicum, with precious golden leaves, Linearilobum, with brown thread-like leaves, Dissectum Garnet, also with red-brown foliage, and Dissectum Nigrum, with dark brown foliage. In pot the height does not exceed 2 meters, on the ground it reaches 5-6. Watering of Japanese maple must be constant throughout the growing season, especially if it is grown in pots. However, avoid water stagnation, which the plant does not tolerate. The older specimens growing on the ground, on the other hand, are usually self-sufficient, thanks to the well-developed roots in depth. In winter, irrigate on cooler days only in the event of prolonged drought.

How to take care of it

In addition to being decorative, Japanese maple also holds the merit of extreme ease of cultivation. Among the few things to worry about when planting it, however, is the type of soil, which must be slightly acidic or at the neutral limit. Calcareous soils on the contrary are to be avoided. If you choose to place it in a vase, it will have to be large, and every spring it will be necessary to renew the more superficial layers of the soil. In the garden instead you have to avoid placing it in a depression, since this could cause dangerous water stagnation around the roots. Pruning is not normally necessary: ​​the Japanese maple grows slowly and maintains a compact crown on its own. In the case of very young specimens and placed in quite windy places, the plant will need a guardian until it is sufficiently strengthened. Otherwise, the wind could bend its thin trunk.

How to fertilize

The Japanese maple prefers rather humus-rich soils, so it is good to add a certain amount to the soil, especially if cultivated in pots, already when the plant is planted. It is then fertilized at the beginning of the summer, always with organic or manure fertilizers, and in much smaller doses in the autumn (otherwise the maple would unnecessarily release new shoots, destined to fall). If the tree grows in a container, it needs more constancy, fertilizing from the beginning of spring until autumn every 4 weeks. Or you can opt for a fertilizer with slow release granular fertilizer, to be carried out at the beginning of spring. Remember, however, that Japanese maple prefers natural fertilizers over those of chemical origin.

Japanese Maple: Exposure, diseases and remedies

The Japanese maple proves to be a tree that is resistant to cold, being able to tolerate winter temperatures below zero without problems, while it adapts less well to full days of sheer sunshine. The appropriate exposure will therefore be in partial shade, which in addition to keeping it healthy will allow it to preserve the fascinating color shades of its leaves, otherwise destined to fade in many varieties, or even to dry out. The ideal is to position it where it is sunny at the beginning of the day, rather than in the central hours. The natural enemies of this tree are some insects (red spider mites, cochineal and aphids), whose infestations are usually contained by the rains, especially if violent, which wash away the insects. The necrosis of the wood and the little family, due to fungi, are more fearful. The first causes the death of the affected woody parts, with the appearance of reddish, brown or orange pustules, due to the accumulation of spores. It is necessary to promptly eliminate the infected parts, cutting also the adjacent portion of still healthy tissue, and burn them. The family causes root rot. It is prevented by avoiding water stagnation, while treatments are not very effective.