Pruning an Upright Japanese Maple

Pruning an Upright Japanese Maple

The upright Japanese maples are spectacular  in all seasons with their showy leaves and stunning fall foliage, they can be the most beautiful tree in any landscape. The upright Japanese maples typically grow much larger than their little brothers, the weeping Japanese Maple. Many times these upright Japanese maples get a way too large or just plain ugly and need some pruning. Here are some basic tips on how to properly prune your upright Japanese Maple


If you prune properly just about any time is the proper time to prune an upright Japanese Maple. Many experts suggest that Winter is the best time to prune a Japanese Maple but some experts suggest that Summer is the best time to prune Japanese Maples. In the winter it is much easier because you can see the structure of the tree because the leaves have fallen off.   This makes it easier to shape your tree. Summertime pruning has its advantages as well, it is easier to judge how much to thin out of your Japanese Maple with the foliage still on. However you should never prune a Japanese maple when the temperature is 80 degrees or more.  Also it is a good idea to remove no more than 1/5 of an upright Japanese maple’s branches.


The secret to making a Japanese maple look good is to prune the branches so that they are in overlapping layers that never actually touch each other. If there are any branches that cross over each other or if any branches grow straight up or down off of a lateral branch thin them out. The idea is to give your upright Japanese maple a fan shaped look.


While pruning an upright Japanese Maple you also want to make proper cuts. A proper pruning job will leave a clean cut just outside of the branch collar. It is important not to cut into the collar as this will cause rot, but also do not prune too far out and leave an ugly stub sticking out of the collar. Follow this simple pruning advice and you will have a healthy well maintained upright Japanese Maple.

One Response to “Pruning an Upright Japanese Maple”

  1. Rockie Says:

    Thanks for the great advice on pruning my Japanese maple. I will try minor pruning in Fall when I can see foliage and not introduce disease.

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