Japanese Maple – Leaves Have Dropped

Q: Last August we bought and had planted a large dwarf Japanese maple. We were told to water it regularly for the first year. Do we continue to water after the tree drops its leaves?

A: I think your instincts are correct: the tree doesn’t need much water when it has no leaves. If we had a windy winter drought, the bark could crack and dry but that’s usually not the case. I’d give it ten gallons of water every couple of weeks this winter in the absence of rain. Next year will be the true test. Mark your calendar to give it ten gallons of water per week in spring, beginning when leaves appear. As temperatures go into the 80’s increase to 15 gallons per week. If things get above 90 degrees give the tree 20 gallons per week. Decrease as temperatures decline. These guidelines should keep you in the ballpark but use your judgement if the soil seems too wet or dry around the base of the tree.

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