Answer: Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) in general do best planted in morning sun or bright dappled light all day long. They should not be planted in half day afternoon sun or in a windy spot.
The soil should be organic and humusy, evenly moist yet well drained. This means consistently damp but not sopping wet or saturated. They should be mulched year round with a layer of organic mulch about three inches deep over the root area, but do not let it touch the trunk.
These trees are not heavy feeders. You could apply an annual spring top dressing of good quality compost and/or a general purpose slow release or granular fertilizer such as 10-10-10 per the label instructions. Do not overfertilize however. The organic mulch will also break down slowly over time to help feed the soil.
Water as needed to supplement rain and keep the soil damp like a wrung out sponge. To know if you need to water, dig into the soil with your finger. If it is still damp you do not need to water yet. Water slowly so it soaks into the soil. After watering, wait a few hours and then dig down to see how far the water went, it can be surprising sometimes. You want it to be moist at least six to eight inches down. This is a shallow rooted tree so the watering is important. Quite often they do need to be watered in dry spells during July and August -- even when well established.
These trees do not need much -- if any -- pruning. Any broken branches should be tidied as soon as you see them. If you need to prune for shape, do so in late winter on a day when temperatures are above about 40 degrees. Never remove more than 20 percent of the branch structure in one year.
General good care will help the tree grow its best. The weather each year and conditions at the growing site will contribute to its growth rate. It is a slow grower, there is not much you can do to make it grow faster. But it is such a pretty tree that most people do not mind the wait. Enjoy your tree!
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