Japanese Maple (Acer Palmatum ‘Katsura’)

Plant: Table of Contents

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’): A Complete Guide


Japanese maples, scientifically known as Acer palmatum, are renowned for their stunning foliage and vibrant colors. Among the multitude of cultivars available, ‘Katsura’ stands out for its exceptional beauty and ornamental value. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of caring for and cultivating the Japanese maple variety Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’. From its cultural requirements to propagation and common pests, this article covers everything you need to know to nurture these exquisite trees.

Key Takeaways – Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’)

  • Japanese maple tree
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’
  • Japanese maple varieties
  • Acer palmatum cultivars
  • Japanese maple care
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ maintenance
  • Japanese maple leaves
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ foliage
  • Japanese maple pruning
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ growth
  • Japanese maple landscaping
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ garden
  • Japanese maple planting
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ propagation
  • Japanese maple pests
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ diseases
  • Japanese maple autumn color
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ fall foliage
  • Japanese maple soil requirements
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ sunlight needs
  • Japanese maple shade tolerance
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ water requirements
  • Japanese maple container gardening
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ indoor planting
  • Japanese maple landscape design
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ focal point
  • Japanese maple pruning techniques
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ pruning tips
  • Japanese maple companion plants
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ garden companions
  • Japanese maple growth habit
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ mature size
  • Japanese maple hardiness zone
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ cold tolerance
  • Japanese maple seasonal changes
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ year-round interest
  • Japanese maple formal garden
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ Japanese garden
  • Japanese maple bonsai
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ bonsai care
  • Japanese maple landscape architecture
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ landscape design
  • Japanese maple outdoor planting
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ soil preparation
  • Japanese maple tree diseases
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ pest control
  • Japanese maple leaf color variations
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ foliage patterns
  • Japanese maple water management
  • Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ drought resistance

What is a Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’)?

Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ is a striking and sought-after variety of Japanese maple renowned for its stunning attributes. Its delicate, palmate leaves emerge with vibrant apricot hues in spring, followed by a transition to lime green in summer. As autumn approaches, the foliage transforms into breathtaking shades of yellow, orange, and red, creating a spectacular visual display. ‘Katsura’ is a deciduous tree that typically grows in a spreading form, making it perfect for ornamental use in gardens and landscapes.



Japanese maples, including the ‘Katsura’ variety, are highly prized for their ornamental value. They serve as exquisite focal points in gardens, as well as providing dazzling displays of color in the autumn landscape, making them popular choices for landscape design. Additionally, their graceful, drooping branches and distinctive foliage make them ideal for bonsai cultivation.


Proper watering is crucial for the health and vigor of Japanese maples. While mature trees exhibit good drought tolerance once established, regular watering is essential during their initial establishment period. It is important to ensure that the soil is consistently moist but well-drained to support the tree’s health and optimal growth. Mulching around the base of the tree helps to retain soil moisture and regulate its temperature, contributing to the overall water management strategy.


Japanese maples, including ‘Katsura’, thrive in dappled or partial shade, particularly in regions with intense sunlight and high temperatures. They benefit from bright, indirect light, but it is crucial to protect them from harsh afternoon sun, especially in warmer climates. While they can tolerate some morning sun, providing protection from the scorching afternoon rays helps to prevent leaf scorch and maintain the tree’s overall health and vigor.


A balanced fertilizer formulated for woody plants is suitable for Japanese maples. It is best to apply fertilizer in early spring before new growth emerges. Alternatively, organic fertilizers can be used, such as well-composted manure or a slow-release organic fertilizer, to provide essential nutrients gradually over the growing season. Over-fertilization should be avoided, as excessive nutrients can lead to rapid but weak growth, potentially compromising the tree’s overall health.


Well-drained, slightly acidic soils with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5 are ideal for Japanese maples, including ‘Katsura’. These trees are sensitive to waterlogged conditions, which can lead to root rot and other detrimental issues. When planting or transplanting, it is crucial to ensure that the soil is loose, fertile, and well-drained to support healthy root development and overall growth.


Pruning plays a vital role in shaping the structure and appearance of Japanese maples. For ‘Katsura’ and other similar varieties, pruning is typically performed in late winter to early spring while the tree is still dormant. This timing minimizes the risk of sap bleeding and allows the wounds to heal rapidly as the tree enters its active growing phase. The primary goals of pruning are to remove dead or diseased wood, correct structural issues, and accentuate the tree’s natural form and aesthetic appeal.


Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ can be propagated through several methods, including seed propagation, softwood cuttings, and grafting. While seed propagation is possible, it often results in genetic variation, and the seedlings may not exhibit the same characteristics as the parent tree. Grafting is commonly employed to ensure that the new plants possess the exact traits and characteristics of the desired cultivar, making it the preferred method for propagating specific Japanese maple varieties.

Container Popularity

Japanese maples are well-suited for container gardening, including the ‘Katsura’ variety. Their compact size, beautiful foliage, and ornamental value make them popular choices for adorning patios, decks, and other outdoor living spaces. When grown in containers, it is essential to select a suitable potting mix, provide adequate drainage, and monitor the tree’s moisture and nutrient requirements more closely compared to trees planted directly in the ground.

Container Common Diseases

When Japanese maples are grown in containers, they may be susceptible to certain diseases that are related to the container environment. Poor drainage, overwatering, or the use of contaminated potting media can contribute to the development of root rot and other fungal infections. Regular monitoring, proper watering practices, and the use of high-quality potting mixes can help mitigate the risk of container-related diseases.

Disease Diagnosis

Diagnosing diseases in Japanese maples, including ‘Katsura’, requires careful observation of the tree’s foliage, bark, and overall health. Common issues that affect these trees include fungal diseases such as verticillium wilt, anthracnose, and leaf spot diseases. Additionally, bacterial infections and physiological disorders may manifest in the form of leaf scorch, tip dieback, or overall decline. Proper identification of the specific symptoms and timely intervention are essential for effective disease management.

Common Pests

Aphids, scale insects, and caterpillars are among the common pests that may affect Japanese maples, including ‘Katsura’. These pests can cause damage to the foliage, sap vigor from the tree, and create conditions for secondary issues such as sooty mold. Regular monitoring and the implementation of appropriate pest control measures, such as horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps, help to manage pest infestations while minimizing the impact on beneficial insects and the overall ecosystem.

Botanist’s Tips

  • When selecting a planting site for Japanese maples, consider the tree’s mature size and allow ample space for its graceful spread and canopy.
  • Mulching around the base of the tree helps to retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth, benefiting the tree’s overall health and vigor.
  • Japanese maples benefit from a layer of organic mulch applied around the base of the tree, which helps to maintain soil moisture, regulate temperature, and suppress weed growth.

Fun Facts

  • The name ‘Katsura’ derives from the Japanese for “honor,” reflecting the revered status of this exquisite cultivar in the realm of Japanese maples.
  • Japanese maples have been cultivated in Japan for centuries, and several ancient specimens are revered as national treasures for their cultural and historical significance.

Links to External Resources

For further information on Japanese maples, Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’, and related topics, refer to the following external resources:

  1. The American Horticultural Society – Japanese Maples: Beautiful Varieties for Your Garden
  2. Royal Horticultural Society – Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ Profile
  3. University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources – Japanese Maples for Your Garden

In conclusion, Japanese maples, particularly Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’, are exceptional trees that captivate the senses and elevate the beauty of gardens and landscapes. By understanding their cultural requirements, maintenance practices, and potential challenges, enthusiasts and gardeners can cultivate and enjoy these magnificent trees to their fullest potential.

Whether grown in the ground or in containers, Japanese maples offer an unparalleled display of foliage, seasonal changes, and timeless elegance, making them indispensable additions to diverse garden styles and horticultural traditions around the world.

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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.