Probably one of the more distinctive and popular maple bonsai tree is the Japanese red maple bonsai. The red maple bonsai is prized not only because of its exquisite form, but more specially because of the distinctive fiery red color of its leaves.
When caring for the Japanese red maple bonsai, keep in mind that it is slightly more fragile compared to other types of maple bonsai trees. Red maple varieties are especially susceptible to leaf damage from the hot sun, strong winds and the harsh winter frost. Special care and attention need to be given to it to make sure your maple bonsai stays healthy as you get to achieve the bonsai style that you are after.
Here are some tips on caring for the Japanese red maple bonsai:
- Water once daily all year, except during winter. The Japanese red maple can get pretty thirsty so its essential that it’s watered frequently. The best time of day to water your maple is during the early morning.
- Misting your red maple bonsai can help maintain moisture. However, avoid misting during the hottest time of the day if your bonsai is exposed to the sun. This can lead to “burns” on your leaves.
- During winter, you need to reach for the balance between a well hydrated bonsai, but not too much that it is left susceptible to winter frost.
- Plant your bonsai tree in well draining soil and container. This will keep the root from standing in water for too long, which will lead to root rot.
- Your Japanese red maple bonsai will need some amount of sun in order to keep its red leaves vibrant. When kept in shade for a few days, you will observe that the leaves will start to loose their color. The best location for it is one where it will receive early morning sun and shade during the hot noontime and afternoon sun. When outdoors, you should also consider a location that will keep it protected from strong winds.
- Fertilize the soil frequently, but don’t overdo it. Too much fertilizer can “burn” the leaves of your red maple bonsai. A slow release organic fertilizer is the most common fertilizer used on red maples. Fertilize once a month with these exceptions: Do not fertilize 2 months from the time it’s repotted. Do not fertilize weak or unhealthy maple bonsai trees. Do not fertilize during very hot summer months.
- When pruning your Japanese red maple, always perform branch pruning together with root pruning so that your tree is kept to a manageable size for your roots. Prune conservatively when it comes to Japanese red maple, and time it once every 2 to 3 years. Best time to prune the roots is at the beginning of spring.
- When pruning branches, be sure to dress the pruning wounds to avoid excess loss of moisture and sap.
- Some bonsai artists perform leaf pruning to encourage the growth of smaller and daintier leaves. Before attempting this, make sure that your bonsai is in excellent health, otherwise diminishing its leaves can impair its ability to nourish itself and actually cause fewer but bigger leaves to grow. Also, do not leaf prune the same year that you root pruned and repotted your bonsai.
- Wiring may be performed on the Japanese red maple. Best time to attach the wire is towards the end of winter. Do not leave the wire on for more than 6 months.