Japanese maple, also known by its Latin name Acer palmatum, is a small tree from the Far East that fascinates with the blaze of its autumn foliage. Its deciduous and palmate leaves, with 5 points, distinguish it from other maple species. In the form of bonsai, the Japanese maple offers very good results, on condition of providing it with appropriate care and judicious pruning.

Description of Japanese Maple Bonsai

  • Latin name : acer palmatum
  • Synonyms: Japanese palmate maple, palmate maple
  • Family: Aceraceae
  • Origin: Japan, China, Korea
  • Plant type: tree
  • Type of vegetation: perennial
  • Type of foliage: deciduous

Characteristics of Japanese Maple Bonsai

The Japanese maple bonsai is from the family Aceraceae, which has no fewer than 200 species of trees and deciduous shrubs.
The color of the leaves of the bonsai Acer palmatum varies according to the species. Individuals with green foliage in summer are generally considered to be more resistant than varieties with red foliage. The leaves of this small tree have 5 pointed lobes at the tip.

The flowers and fruits of this bonsai are quite anecdotal. In autumn, small red-brown berries appear in pairs, often mingling with its foliage.
The advantage of Japanese maple is that it easily adapts to bonsai techniques. Bonsaiists appreciate the fiery color of its foliage as much as the structure of its branches. In cool, slightly acidic soil, exposed to partial shade or full sun depending on the season, Acer palmatum will thrive fully.

How to maintain Japanese Maple Bonsai?

Exposure Partial shade except in spring/autumn
Watering Supported
Fertilizer Every month except July and August
Special organic bonsai fertilizer
Growth N / A
Diseases Aphids

Exhibition / Location

Except in spring or fall where it can be placed in full light, Japanese maple bonsai appreciate semi-shaded situations. Rather rustic, it supports negative temperatures down to -10 ° C and is heat resistant (up to 30 ° C in summer).

How to water Japanese Maple Bonsai?

The watering of this bonsai must be supported because its substrate must always remain fresh, especially in spring.

Which fertilizer to use?

The young shrubs need a supply of organic fertilizer special bonsai from the appearance of the first buds in spring. Fertilization may be delayed in adult Acer palmatum.
During the growing season, you have to feed your bonsai every month, except in July and August when you will stop any intake.


It is possible to shape your bonsai Acer palmatum by ligating:

the wires are then placed in June and removed in August. Avoid tying your bonsai tree in winter, because its branches, more fragile, are likely to break.

How to report it?

It is carried out every year in young Japanese maple bonsai, every two years in adults, and in the spring. Prepare a mixture of 50% akadama (neutral substrate), 10% kanuma (slightly acidic clay soil), and 40% pozzolan.

Carry out a large size on the root bread of the bonsai to promote its growth.


3 multiplication methods are possible:

  • June cuttings, which requires selecting a cutting of 1 cm in diameter at most;
  • Layering;
  • The sowing.

How to prune Japanese Maple Bonsai?

The work of the internodes is carried out throughout the vegetative phase and must be particularly precise if you wish to avoid excessively long internodes.
The defoliation is done in June, under certain conditions: always a healthy individual, never two consecutive years or the year of potting, and never on the species to summer red foliage, too fragile.

The structure size is preferably carried out in the autumn, just after the fall of the leaves, or during the summer semi-dormant for trees exposed in winter.
Except for Burger maple (trident maple or Acer buergerianum), the growth of a Japanese maple bonsai is quite slow.

Diseases and Parasites

Japanese maple bonsai can be susceptible to aphids, which you can remove with black soap, and verticiliary blight. This disease causes a progressive drying out of the individual. It is then necessary to disinfect the soil and avoid continuing the cultivation of a contaminated tree.
However, healthy subjects cultivated in good conditions rarely develop this condition.


The bonsai Acer palmatum is non-toxic .

Some species of Japanese Maple Bonsai

In bonsai culture, a few varieties are to be favored:

  • acer palmatum Arakawa ;
  • Acer palmatum Deshojo is a particularly interesting variety: changing from red to green during the vegetative period, its leaves regain their flamboyance in autumn. It is a very hardy species (down to -22 ° C), with a bushy habit.
  • acer palmatum Deshojo ;
  • Acer palmatum Shishigashira,                                                                                                                  or Acer palmatum Kashima
  • Acer palmatum Seigen ;
      • acer palmatum Kiyohime ;`