1. How and where to plant
The perfect soil for acers is free draining but rich in organic matter and slightly acidic, but these trees will thrive in most soils apart from the very alkaline or very wet. Japanese acers come from forested areas, so add plenty of leafmould or compost to the area that you plan to plant. They need a sheltered position in part shade – avoid full sun and wind, which will dry our and scorch the leaves. They also need a little breathing space around them as they don’t like close competition from other plant.
2. Growing in a container
If your soil doesn’t suit Japanese acers, they are easy to grow in containers too. Plant them in a container slightly larger than their original pot, using loam-based compost rich in organic matter such as John Innes No. 2. Position the container in a sheltered position and take care to water regularly, as containers dry out quickly. Repot into a larger container every two or three years.
3. How and when to prune
Japanese acers are best left to grow into their natural shape without pruning, but sometimes dead or rubbing stems under the main canopy need to be removed and occasionally branches that are growing at an odd angle need to be pruned back to the main trunk. Always prune between November and January, as spring pruning can lead to unsightly sap bleeding from the cuts, using loppers.