Full Moon Maple (Acer Japonicum ‘O-isami’)

Plant: Table of Contents

Full Moon Maple (Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’): A Plant Scientist’s Guide

As a plant scientist, I am always fascinated by the diversity and beauty of plants in nature. One such captivating plant is the full moon maple (Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’). In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the key characteristics of the full moon maple, its care requirements, common uses, and tips for its successful cultivation. Whether you are a seasoned gardener, landscape designer, or simply an enthusiast of ornamental plants, this guide will provide valuable insights into maximizing the potential of the full moon maple in various settings.

What is Plant – Full Moon Maple (Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’)

The full moon maple, scientifically known as Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’, is a deciduous tree renowned for its stunning foliage and compact growth habit. Belonging to the Sapindaceae family, this plant is native to Japan and is highly valued for its ornamental appeal. The ‘O-isami’ cultivar, in particular, is prized for its vibrant autumn colors, making it a sought-after addition to gardens, parks, and landscapes. With its distinctive foliage and graceful form, the full moon maple is a standout choice for ornamental plantings and is favored for its resilience and adaptability in diverse environmental conditions.

Key Takeaways – Full Moon Maple (Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’)

Here are the key takeaways that will be covered in detail throughout this guide:

  1. Full moon maple care
  2. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ characteristics
  3. Growing full moon maple
  4. Full moon maple varieties
  5. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ pruning
  6. Full moon maple tree
  7. Full moon maple landscape
  8. Full moon maple foliage
  9. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ growth habit
  10. Full moon maple planting
  11. Full moon maple maintenance
  12. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ features
  13. Full moon maple diseases
  14. Full moon maple autumn color
  15. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ size
  16. Full moon maple care tips
  17. Full moon maple in gardens
  18. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ soil requirements
  19. Full moon maple for shade
  20. Full moon maple habitat
  21. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ leaf shape
  22. Full moon maple in containers
  23. Full moon maple watering needs
  24. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ cold hardiness
  25. Full moon maple landscape design
  26. Full moon maple seasonal interest
  27. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ sun exposure
  28. Full moon maple spring growth
  29. Full moon maple mulching techniques
  30. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ fall color
  31. Full moon maple companion plants
  32. Full moon maple garden decor
  33. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ native habitat
  34. Full moon maple pruning tips
  35. Full moon maple winter care
  36. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ leaf color
  37. Full moon maple container gardening
  38. Full moon maple root system
  39. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ garden uses
  40. Full moon maple pests
  41. Full moon maple heat tolerance
  42. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ water requirements
  43. Full moon maple leaf size
  44. Full moon maple soil pH preferences
  45. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ landscape ideas
  46. Full moon maple fertilizer needs
  47. Full moon maple tree identification
  48. Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’ planting guide
  49. Full moon maple habitat conditions
  50. Full moon maple potting tips

Now, let’s delve into the detailed aspects of the full moon maple to promote better understanding and successful cultivation.


The culture of the full moon maple encompasses its natural habitat, growth characteristics, and overall environmental requirements. Understanding the cultural preferences of this plant is essential for creating an optimal growing environment and ensuring its long-term health and vitality.

Native Habitat

The full moon maple (Acer japonicum ‘O-isami’) is indigenous to the woodlands and mountainous regions of Japan. In its natural habitat, it thrives in moist, well-drained soils with ample organic content. The cool and temperate climate of these regions provides an ideal setting for the full moon maple to flourish, showcasing its vibrant foliage and adapting to the seasonal changes with grace.

The understory of the Japanese forests provides partial shade, which is conducive to the growth and development of the full moon maple. The dappled sunlight filtering through the canopy offers the plant the right balance of light and shade, supporting its lush foliage and overall health.

Growth Characteristics

The ‘O-isami’ cultivar of Acer japonicum is known for its compact growth habit, making it an excellent choice for ornamental plantings in smaller gardens and landscapes. It typically attains a height of 8-12 feet with a similar spread, creating a well-proportioned and visually appealing silhouette. The growth rate is moderate, allowing for manageable maintenance and shaping.


The full moon maple ‘O-isami’ is best planted during the spring or fall when the soil is workable and temperatures are moderate. Follow these steps for successful planting of the full moon maple:

  1. Choose a suitable location: Select a site that offers partial shade, especially during the intense afternoon sun. The soil should be well-drained, rich in organic matter, and slightly acidic, preferably with a pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5.

  2. Dig the planting hole: The planting hole should be twice as wide as the root ball and of similar depth. This allows the roots to establish and expand into the surrounding soil, promoting healthy growth.

  3. Amend the soil: Mix organic matter such as compost or peat moss into the backfilled soil to improve its structure and fertility. This helps create an optimal growing environment for the full moon maple.

  4. Plant the tree: Gently remove the plant from its container and inspect the root system. Loosen any encircling roots and position the tree in the center of the planting hole. Backfill with the amended soil, ensuring that the root flare remains at ground level.

  5. Water and mulch: Water the newly planted tree thoroughly to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets around the roots. Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the tree, keeping it several inches away from the trunk to prevent moisture-related issues.

  6. Provide care: Monitor the moisture levels in the soil and provide supplemental watering as needed, especially during dry periods. Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring to support healthy growth.

By following these planting guidelines, you can establish the full moon maple ‘O-isami’ successfully and set the stage for its long-term well-being.+


The full moon maple benefits from regular fertilization to support its growth, foliage development, and overall vigor. Using a balanced, slow-release fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants is ideal for this purpose. Apply the fertilizer in early spring before the onset of new growth, following the recommended dosage instructions based on the size and age of the tree.

In addition to the spring application, a light top-dressing of compost or well-aged manure in the fall can provide a supplementary nutrient boost for the full moon maple. This organic amendment enriches the soil and promotes microbial activity, further enhancing the plant’s nutrient uptake and resilience.


The soil composition plays a crucial role in the health and performance of the full moon maple. It prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5, akin to its native woodland habitats. The addition of organic matter such as compost, peat moss, or pine bark mulch improves soil structure, moisture retention, and nutrient availability, creating an optimal growing medium for the full moon maple to thrive.

It is essential to avoid waterlogged or compacted soils, as they can hinder root development and lead to moisture-related stress. Regularly monitor the soil moisture and drainage to ensure a healthy growing environment for the full moon maple.


Pruning is an integral aspect of maintaining the form, structure, and aesthetics of the full moon maple. The key objectives of pruning include:

  1. Removing dead, diseased, or damaged branches to promote plant health.
  2. Thinning out crowded or crossing branches to improve air circulation and light penetration.
  3. Shaping the tree to accentuate its natural form and silhouette.

Pruning Techniques

When pruning the full moon maple ‘O-isami’, adhere to the following guidelines for optimal results:

  1. Prune during dormancy: Perform major pruning and shaping during the dormant season, preferably in late winter to early spring before the onset of new growth. This minimizes stress on the tree and allows for rapid healing of pruning wounds.

  2. Use sharp, clean tools: Employ high-quality, sharp pruning shears, loppers, or saws to make clean cuts without causing undue injury to the branches. Sterilize the tools between cuts, especially when dealing with diseased branches, to prevent the spread of pathogens.

  3. Selective branch removal: Identify and remove any dead, diseased, or weak branches to enhance the tree’s vitality and resilience. Also, eliminate any crossing or rubbing branches to prevent damage and promote uniform growth.

  4. Maintain natural form: While shaping the tree, aim to preserve its natural form and overall aesthetic appeal. Avoid excessive pruning that may compromise the tree’s health and vigor.

By following these prudent pruning practices, you can promote the long-term health, vigor, and visual elegance of the full moon maple ‘O-isami’.


Propagation of the full moon maple can be achieved through several techniques, including seed germination, cuttings, and grafting. Each method offers unique advantages and considerations, catering to different skill levels and specific propagation objectives.

Seed Germination

For those seeking to propagate the full moon maple from seed, follow these steps for successful seed germination:

  1. Seed collection: Harvest mature seeds from existing full moon maple trees in the fall, ensuring that they are fully ripened and free from defects.
  2. Seed preparation: Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours to hydrate them and enhance their germination potential. This step promotes uniform germination and accelerates the establishment of seedlings.

  3. Sowing the seeds: Plant the prepared seeds in well-drained, sterile seed-starting mix, covering them with a thin layer of the substrate. Maintain consistent moisture levels and provide indirect light to facilitate germination.

  4. Seedling care: Once the seedlings emerge, gradually acclimate them to ambient light and environmental conditions. As they develop, transplant them into individual containers or nursery beds for further growth and development.

Stem Cuttings

Propagating the full moon maple from stem cuttings offers a reliable and efficient means of creating new plants. Follow these guidelines for successful propagation through stem cuttings:

  1. Select healthy cuttings: Choose semi-ripe stem cuttings from the current season’s growth, ensuring they are free from pests, diseases, or damage. Each cutting should ideally measure 4-6 inches in length and exhibit active growth nodes.

  2. Rooting hormone application: Dip the base of the cuttings in a rooting hormone powder or gel to stimulate root initiation and enhance the rooting process. This step improves the success rate of cutting propagation and accelerates the establishment of new plants.

  3. Planting the cuttings: Insert the treated cuttings into a well-drained propagation medium, such as a mix of perlite and peat moss. Maintain high humidity levels and provide gentle bottom heat to expedite root development.

  4. Rooting and acclimatization: Monitor the cuttings for the formation of roots and signs of new growth. Once the roots are well-established, gradually acclimate the young plants to ambient conditions and prepare them for transplantation.


Grafting presents an advanced propagation method for the full moon maple, allowing for the transfer of desirable traits and characteristics onto compatible rootstock. It involves joining the scion (desired cultivar) with the rootstock, creating a union that ensures robust growth and performance.

The grafting process requires precision and careful attention to detail, making it suitable for experienced gardeners, horticulturists, or nursery professionals. By selecting appropriate rootstock and executing the grafting procedure with skill and precision, one can propagate the full moon maple while preserving its unique qualities and attributes.

By employing these propagation techniques, you can expand your collection of full moon maples and share the beauty and elegance of this exceptional plant with others.

Container Popularity

The full moon maple ‘O-isami’ is well-suited for container cultivation, offering a versatile and space-efficient option for incorporating this plant into various settings. Whether on patios, balconies, or urban gardens, container-grown full moon maples add a touch of elegance and beauty, showcasing their vibrant foliage and graceful form.

When selecting a container for the full moon maple, opt for a spacious, sturdy pot with adequate drainage holes to ensure proper aeration and moisture management. Choose a high-quality, well-draining potting mix tailored for acid-loving plants, enhancing the growing conditions within the container.

Regular watering and fertilization are essential for container-grown full moon maples, as the limited soil volume necessitates more frequent attention to moisture and nutrient levels. Additionally, monitoring the plant’s exposure to sunlight and adjusting its positioning to optimize light levels is crucial for the plant’s health and vitality.

Container Common Diseases

Container-grown full moon maples may be susceptible to certain diseases, including root rot, leaf spot, and powdery mildew, especially in conditions of excessive moisture, poor air circulation, or suboptimal growing medium. Vigilance in monitoring the plant’s health, assessing its water requirements, and implementing preemptive measures are vital for preventing and mitigating these common diseases.

Disease Diagnosis

Disease diagnosis for the full moon maple involves careful observation of the plant’s foliage, stems, and overall vigor. Common symptoms of disease or stress include:

  • Discoloration or yellowing of the leaves
  • Leaf spots or lesions
  • Premature defoliation
  • Stunted growth or dieback
  • Wilted or distorted foliage
  • Presence of powdery or fuzzy growth on leaves

If any of these symptoms are observed, prompt intervention and proper diagnosis are essential for identifying the specific disease or stress factor affecting the plant. Consult with a local extension service, certified arborist, or plant health professional to accurately diagnose the issue and develop an effective treatment plan.

Disease Prevention and Management

Implementing proactive measures to prevent diseases and maintain the overall health of the full moon maple is vital for its long-term well-being. Consider the following strategies for disease prevention and management:

  • Proper watering: Avoid overwatering and ensure that the plant’s root system does not remain excessively saturated, as this can lead to root rot and other moisture-related issues.
  • Air circulation: Promote good air movement around the plant by pruning back dense foliage and positioning it in an open, well-ventilated area.
  • Soil quality: Utilize well-draining, nutrient-rich soil and ensure proper pH levels to create a favorable growing environment and minimize disease susceptibility.
  • Sanitation: Regularly remove fallen leaves, debris, and any infected plant material to prevent the spread of diseases and pests.

By adopting these best practices and maintaining vigilance in plant care, you can minimize the risk of diseases and contribute to the overall vitality of the full moon maple.

Common Pests

The full moon maple is relatively resistant to major pest infestations, but it may occasionally encounter encounters with certain pests, including aphids, scale insects, and spider mites. These pests can affect the plant’s overall health and vitality, necessitating timely intervention and pest management strategies.

Pest Identification

Identifying the presence of pests on the full moon maple involves close inspection of the foliage, stems, and undersides of leaves. Look for the following signs of pest activity:

  • Sticky honeydew on leaves and stems, indicating aphid infestations
  • Small, immobile bumps on stems and leaves, indicative of scale insects
  • Fine webbing and stippling on the foliage, signaling spider mite infestations

By promptly identifying the signs of pest activity, you can initiate targeted pest control measures to mitigate their impact and protect the health of the full moon maple.

Pest Management

Implementing integrated pest management (IPM) strategies is crucial for effectively managing pests on the full moon maple. IPM integrates various control tactics, including cultural, mechanical, biological, and, if necessary, chemical measures, to address pest issues while minimizing environmental impact and ensuring plant health.

Consider the following IPM approaches for pest management on the full moon maple:

  • Horticultural oil application: Utilize horticultural oils to suffocate and disrupt the life cycles of pests such as aphids, scale insects, and spider mites.
  • Beneficial insects: Introduce predatory insects such as ladybugs or lacewings to naturally control aphid populations and maintain a balanced ecosystem.
  • Pruning and sanitation: Remove heavily infested plant parts and adopt good sanitation practices to limit pest establishment and spread.
  • Selective pesticide usage: If chemical control is necessary, opt for selective insecticides or miticides with minimal impact on beneficial organisms.

By incorporating these IPM practices and maintaining vigilance in pest monitoring, you can safeguard the full moon maple from pest-related issues and sustain its overall health and vitality.

Botanist’s Tips

Tip 1: Seasonal Care

Adjust your care and maintenance practices for the full moon maple based on the seasonal requirements and changes in environmental conditions. Tailoring your approach to accommodate the plant’s specific needs during different seasons enhances its resilience and ensures optimal growth and performance.

  • Spring: Monitor new growth and provide supplemental watering and fertilization to support the plant’s vigor and establish healthy foliage.
  • Summer: Pay attention to moisture levels and provide adequate shade during hot periods to prevent stress and maintain leaf quality.
  • Fall: Enjoy the vibrant autumn colors of the full moon maple and prepare it for the approaching winter by reducing fertilization and gradually adjusting watering schedules.

Tip 2: Mulching Benefits

Mulching around the base of the full moon maple offers numerous benefits, including moisture retention, weed suppression, and soil insulation. Utilize a layer of organic mulch such as shredded bark or wood chips, maintaining a consistent depth of 2-3 inches while keeping it several inches away from the tree trunk to prevent excess moisture accumulation.

Tip 3: Observational Learning

Regularly observe the full moon maple throughout the year, noting its growth patterns, response to environmental conditions, and any signs of stress or vitality. This observational approach enables you to fine-tune your care practices, address emerging issues promptly, and develop an intuitive understanding of the plant’s needs.

Tip 4: Sustainable Practices

Prioritize sustainable gardening practices in the care and cultivation of the full moon maple. Incorporating organic amendments, water conservation measures, and eco-friendly pest control methods contributes to the long-term health of the plant and promotes environmental stewardship.

Fun Facts

  • The full moon maple ‘O-isami’ is named for its distinctive palmate foliage that resembles the shape of a full moon, particularly when backlit by sunlight.
  • The tree’s autumn colors range from vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow, creating a breathtaking display of seasonal beauty in the landscape.
  • In Japan, the full moon maple holds cultural significance and is celebrated for its elegant form and symbolic representation of harmony and balance.

Links to External Resources

To further enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the full moon maple ‘O-isami’, consider exploring the following external resources:

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Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.