The Q&A Archives: Acer palmatum 'atropurpureum'

Question: This 'acer' was a mother's day gift. I have a small yard, so the tree has to be potted. I looked the local book-store for infoe., but none found. I need total care information. Could you recommend a book or give me some instruction. I need all the basics: Pot size, soil type, how to prune or shape, where the best location on a patio would be, {sun or lack of sun). It get extremely hot and dry here 90's and 100's. Thanks for your help.

Answer: Acer palmatum 'atropurpureum' is a perfect candidate for growing in a large container. This Japanese maple is often used as a focal point in a garden and you can keep it smaller than it's normal 20' size by pruning it and keeping the roots confined. I'd used a half-whiskey barrel sized container filled with a 50-50 mixture of garden soil and potting soil. The garden soil will help anchor the container and keep the tree from blowing over in a windstorm; the potting soil will provide important aeration and excellent drainage. Plant the tree in moistened growing medium at the same soil level as it was growing in the nursery pot. Water thoroughly after planting, then water thoroughly when the top 2-3" of soil dries out. Be sure to apply water slowly so it has a chance to percolate down and moisten all of the soil in the container. Your new maple will look best if given a few hours of morning sunshine but shade from the hot afternoon sun. Prune in the winter months while the tree is dormant, removing excessive branching and shortening the remaining branches to keep the tree small in size. Best wishes with your new maple!

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