Growing Japanese Maples In Containers


Years ago I had a gardening magazine that had an article about growing trees in containers in it. The idea intrigued me. But somewhere along the way, I lost or threw out the magazine.

Now that I don't have trees on my patio, the idea of trees in containers is even more appealing.

One tree I've always longed to have is a Japanese Maple. Last week when I was at the nursery buying my bowl of Johnny Jump Ups, I walked around and looked at them. The prices for Japanese Maples start around $49.99. 


Of course I'd have to choose the right size container. So I'd have to discuss this with the knowledgeable folks at Southwood Nursery. 

I love trees. I love taking photos of trees.   
 
I've actually seen a few trees planted in the front yards of some of the residents here. But I'd rather have one on the patio to start with.

Here's a look at Japanese Maples I found online planted in containers.


So the next question is, how do you grow Japanese Maples in containers? And here's what I found:

Japanese Maples Need:
  • Dappled or afternoon shade, especially when young
  • Protection from strong wind
  • Well-drained, consistently moist soil, neither excessively wet nor dry
  • Protection from late spring frosts, especially when young
  • Choose a dwarf cultivar that matures at less than 10 feet. Larger plants will also work if you prune them annually.
  • Select a container that’s no more than twice the volume of roots. Make sure there’s a drainage hole -- Japanese maples will not survive in soggy soil.
  • Use quality potting soil -- but not one that contains slow-release fertilizer that might burn roots.
  • Fertilize sparingly. Apply a water-based fertilizer, diluted to half-strength, when growth begins in spring.
  • Prune in midsummer to shape the plant or keep it at a desired size. Individual branches can be coaxed to hang downward in a more elegant habit by hanging light weights on the branches for one growing season.
  • Repot once roots reach the sides and bottom of the pot -- generally every couple of years. Prune the roots by cutting away large, woody roots to encourage small fibrous ones to form.

This idea really interests me. The birds would have another place to perch. I could enjoy the changing of the leaves.

When I want to do something but confront a problem doing it, I always like to challenge myself to find a way. 

And since I rent an apartment and no longer have trees growing on my patio, I may just have to try growing trees in containers.

In case you're interested in more information, I found this site for Japanese Maple lovers.

Do you have a tree growing in a container? Would you like to try  growing a tree in a container. 

Just because you might not have a yard or own your home does not mean that you can't have a tree.


37 comments

  1. I love the elegant and timeless look of Japanese maples and would like to have one. But, I have a large yard and if I got one I would plant it in the yard rather than a container. (On the other hand, if it was in a container I could take it with me if I moved!) My suggestion is to try to find one that is more sun-tolerant than a lot of Japanese maples tend to be. Tags on a lot of them indicate they prefer partial shade. Regarding the roots and re-potting -- I wouldn't want to mess with re-potting one. But, I did some quick research and read that you can do the root pruning while the tree is in its current pot, pruning away some of the large roots in order to encourage smaller roots to grow. I guess you'd have to dig out the potting soil, do the pruning, and then refill the pot with more potting soil. Doesn't sound too awful. There are a lot of other dwarf trees and flowering bushes that can be grown in pots, so you could create a little potted forest on your patio. Sounds like it could become a fun hobby.

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    1. I don't think I'll do it right away, but at least it is a possibility that I may finally have a Japanese Maple. What I was thinking: If you have it in a pot and perhaps put it on rollers, you could take it with you if you moved.

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  2. Love this idea! We planted one in our front flower bed which has kind of a nook for protection. I wonder if it would freeze where you are. They are so expensive I'd really make sure before purchasing.

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    1. Oh, I would do a lot more research before I acted. Might try another (cheaper) type of tree first.

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  3. We had a huge one in a previous house and we took two saplings and transplanted them. That's a possibility and you could raise it from a baby tree. Of course, that would take a little longer to get to a reasonable height. The Japanese maple is a beautiful tree and the leaves are so small that they don't cause a big pileup of leaves in the fall.

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    1. I'm interested in other trees as well. But the Japanese Maple has always been a favorite of mine, yet I've never had one in my yard!

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  4. I love that idea and the Japanese maple tree is so pretty. It be a lot of pretty color on your patio. I look forward to seeing what you decide. Carol

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    1. I agree. I think that color of leaves would be so enjoyable to watch season by season.

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  5. We have never planted a tree in a pot, but when buying flowers for out patio, I asked the garden center about what was best to plant them in. They said that if we planned to leave the pots outdoors in the winter months that it's best to use ceramic pots. They said that plain clay pots have a tendency to break when the weather is cold. Just something to think about or discuss with your garden center when you plant a potted tree. xo Of course a wooden barrel is always an option as well.

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  6. What a great idea. I don't grow much outside since I don't have a good place to do so. A tree is a great idea!

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  7. I have a vine maple out back in a pot. Bought it as a small little thing. It has survived quite nicely on ordinary top soil in the pot.

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  8. That is a great idea! I love the small Japanese maple trees and they sound perfect for pot planting. Also, I think crape myrtles can be grown in pots. They are a beautiful flowering tree.

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    1. I would love to have either. In TX I had three crepe myrtles and they were so pretty when they bloomed.

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  9. Hi, Brenda. Don't know if you read the comment I posted yesterday, but in it I suggested you might like to grow a tree in a container. And Lo and behold, today you are writing about doing so! I think it's a great idea and you could take it with you if you moved. Putting it on wheels is a good idea, too. Not only could you take it with you, you could change its location on the patio. Probably Spring is the best time to start one. The birds would love it!

    I'm glad to know the information you posted about growing Japanese Maples in pots. I might want to try it next Spring, depending on where I am living. Something to think about.

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    1. Sometimes it takes me a few days to get to all the comments. That is uncanny!

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  10. Hi, Brenda. Don't know if you read the comment I posted yesterday, but in it I suggested you might like to grow a tree in a container. And Lo and behold, today you are writing about doing so! I think it's a great idea and you could take it with you if you moved. Putting it on wheels is a good idea, too. Not only could you take it with you, you could change its location on the patio. Probably Spring is the best time to start one. The birds would love it!

    I'm glad to know the information you posted about growing Japanese Maples in pots. I might want to try it next Spring, depending on where I am living. Something to think about.

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  11. I like the idea of a Japanese Maple in a container. I need one on my deck but it gets mostly afternoon sun so I just might research other trees in containers. I have two JM's, one in the front which is huge and one in the back not quite as large but two different types of JM's. They're very pretty trees planted anywhere and I really like the first picture you showed us.

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    1. There are several variation of leaves that I love.

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  12. Is the winter temperature in your area ok for potted trees? The pot doesn't provide the same stability of temperature as the earth,
    Do you think your complex would pat for a tree replacement or is that too much to ask?

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    1. Shoot, they won't spring for much of anything. So no. I buy something when I want it. Have never been able to get them to do much of anything.

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  13. We have always loved Japanese Maples and always wanted one or two but will never purchase one because we live in a sunny and hot state, Texas, similar to Oklahoma's weather. As an instance, last fall our plant-knowledgeable neighbor down the block from us purchased a beautiful one and it has been slowly dropping leaves and now looks as if the last leaves on it are dead - while the rest of his landscape is gorgeous. Even when the tree is planted in the shade it will probably get hot sunbeams as the sun rounds about it during the day and sneaks it's rays in among the foliage and/or forms that were shading it in the morning. Of course, planting a Japanese Maple in a pot on wheels, you could move it during the day from place to place to find shade, which would seem to me to be not worth it. Good luck and our good wishes if you decide to do it! P.S. Have a look at a Mimosa tree, which thrives in the hot weather and has the same type shape as a Japanese tree, with feathery leaves that are beautiful and pods of beautiful pink, puffy flowers. Since you have lived in Texas before, you may remember this tree - some think of it as a scrub tree and not worth much but I think of it as beautiful!

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    1. I'm familiar with Mimosas. I'm going to ask the nursery what the best tree would be for me to plant in a container. No point in getting one only to have it die.

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  14. Sadly,I have a brown thumb:(
    They all seem to be thriving in their respective containers!
    The very 1st picture is beautiful,love the pot:)

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    1. I don't seem to have much luck with many seeds. But I've found that if I get small plants from the nursery, they seem to live longer. The ones I've gotten at the big box stores haven't fared as well.

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  15. I live Japanese maples! I watched our local Volunteer Gardener on PBS the other night and they were at the yard if a man who has collected them for 2 decades. Gorgeous! He had some delicate ones in containers. I just assumed that he overwintered them in his greenhouse. So they don't have to? They won't die in hard freezes? We planted 2 in the ground this spring but I'd live to have some in containers as long as we don't have to overwinter them.

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    1. Sorry for typos! Typing this on phone!

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    2. I will find out this info when I visit the nursery and write about it.

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  16. These are all beautiful...I love their lacy look and their rich fall color!

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    1. I just adore those with lacy leaves! So delicate.

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  17. I love Japanese maples and never even knew that you could plant them in a pot! I cannot wait to see what you plant!

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    1. If the nursery thinks I can overwinter one here in OK, I may try it. I will listen to their advice.

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  18. I had a beautiful red lacy maple at my old house. loved the changes of the colors. It was very delicate. Did well in the winters, but the hot California sun burnt the leaves. That is my favorite one that I've seen so far. So many different ones. We got lots of saplings, potted them and gave them to friends. Love trading plants. Now that we've moved up into the foothills, my brother gave me 2, that are in pots flanking my entry way of my front door. I'm still trying to figure out how to make a statement with the front of my new little cottage. You'll have a lot of enjoyment with the trees in the pots. Planting flowers around the bottom. I can see little pansies already! But remember if you ever move, those trees will be heavy to move. You'll need help when they get big. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I'm thinking of putting the pots on rollers.

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