Gardening experts share how to prune Japanese maples to ‘encourage new growth’

Japanese maples are elegant, ornamental plants that need very little care or attention throughout the year.

However, every now and then, the plants need pruning to keep them looking neat and tidy and to remove dead shoots.

Japanese maples, also known as acers, need to be pruned when they’re dormant from November to January.

If they’re pruned at other times, the tree could become weak due to sap bleeding out of it.

If you’re unsure about pruning your Japanese maple tree the Toronto Master Gardeners have shared their advice for pruning Japanese Maples after gardener Ingrid Hann wrote in and asked how to prune hers.

READ MORE: Best time to plant Japanese maples for guaranteed flowering success next year

Alan Titchmarsh explains how to prune an Acer tree

The Toronto Master Gardeners are a group of more than 130 trained horticulturists with years of experience between them.

Ingrid said her Japanese Maple was seven years old, “healthy” and around five feet tall.

The experts said Japanese maples are “beautiful” plants that can be the “focal point” of any garden.

Young Japanese maple trees are sometimes prone to thin branch growth which can detract from the tree’s pretty appearance.

However, the experts said these branches can grow and become strong branches.

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So pruning Japanese maples early can “encourage more growth of these spindly branches”.

With younger trees, gardeners need to be patient as the branches will eventually become fatter.

The experts recommended pruning the plants in winter so the structure of the branches can clearly be seen.

However, pruning in summer can give gardeners an insight into how the foliage fills out the tree.

The experts added: “Pruning in summer is also less likely to encourage new branch growth, but avoid pruning more than 20 percent of the crown, and no more than a quarter of the foliage on any parent branch.

“Removing too much foliage at one time inhibits the tree’s ability to produce nutrients and can expose the inner branches and trunk to sun damage.”

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