7 Best Fertilizer for Dwarf Japanese Maple (2022)

The Japanese maple, also called acer palmatum, is known for its dazzling colors and beautiful foliage.

A slow-growing deciduous tree native to Asia and Japan, this tree provides a pop of autumn color in even the tiniest garden.

Because of its popularity in horticulture, ensuring its health requires proper care and fertilizer. 

What is the best fertilizer for dwarf japanese maple? It is recommended to use slow-release granular fertilizers with low nitrogen levels for Japanese maples. In late winter or after the last frost in spring, fertilizer should be applied. Fertilizers for lawns contain too much nitrogen, which can weaken trees.

If you want your Japanese maple to thrive and remain vibrantly colored, you need to provide it with appropriate care and fertilizer.

Continue reading to learn what fertilizer to use, when to use it, and how to apply it to your Japanese maple. 

Best Fertilizer for Dwarf Japanese Maple

The best fertilizers for Japanese maples are those low in nitrogen.

Although a sudden boost of nitrogen will speed up this tree’s growth, it can also weaken it. 

You can find this out by checking the NPK value on each product. The NPK value represents the nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) levels in a fertilizer.

Additionally, fertilizers that provide pest protection and additional nutrients are extremely beneficial. 

Our review of seven fertilizer products will take the guesswork out of choosing the right fertilizer for your Japanese maple. 

1. BioAdvanced Protect & Feed

BioAdvanced Protect & Feed

With a single application, this slow-release nitrogen fertilizer feeds and protects your plants from pests for 12 months. The spray contains 1.1% Imidacloprid (systemic insecticide) and protects against aphids, borers, and Japanese beetles in gardens and containers.

The granules should be applied directly to the soil for root absorption. The NPK analysis is 2-1-1.

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2. Osmocote Plus Smart Release

Osmocote Plus Smart Release

The Osmocote fertilizer consists of small resin-coated granules that release nutrients into the soil after coming into contact with water.

The fertilizer granules are applied directly to the soil, and frequent watering is recommended to encourage nutrient release. It contains 11 essential nutrients and can provide food for up to 6 months.

A 15-9-12 NPK analysis includes nitrogen, phosphate, soluble potash, sulfur, boron, copper, iron, manganese, and molybdenum.

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3. Fox Farm Happy Frog Japanese Maple Fertilizer

Fox Farm Happy Frog Japanese Maple Fertilizer

A cool-weather fertilizer that is granular in form.

With 4% nitrogen content, it also contains organic nutrients such as bat guano, feather meal, and cottonseed meal.

During the growing season, apply this fertilizer monthly during the growing season. It contains humic acid, which enhances micronutrient absorption and promotes seed germination. The NPK analysis is 4-8-5.

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4. Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed

Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed

In Miracle-Gro, ingredients such as kelp, bone meal, feather meal, and earthworm castings support soil microbes.

With one application, it provides food for three months. Nitrogen content stands at 12%, and micronutrients are important for healthy growth.

The NPK analysis shows 12-4-8.

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5. The Andersons PGF Balanced Fertilizer

The Andersons PGF Balanced Fertilizer

In addition to promoting growth and flowering, this fertilizer contains nitrogen that can weaken slow-growing Japanese maples when applied in excess.

According to its packaging, it’s an excellent fertilizer for lawns, gardens, trees, and vegetables. Note that it contains equal amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus. 

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6. Ferti-lome Tree and Shrub Food

Ferti-lome Tree and Shrub Food

Tropical trees, palms, shade trees, and fruit trees can all benefit from this 19% nitrogen fertilizer.  The higher nitrogen content of this fertilizer makes it unsuitable for container trees.

NPK analysis is 19-8-10 and should be applied twice a year. 

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7. Miracle-Gro Tree & Shrub Plant Food Spikes 

Miracle-Gro Tree & Shrub Plant Food Spikes

A fertilizer spike can be pushed into the ground near the root zone, eliminating the need to dig holes or mix fertilizer solutions/teas.

NPK analysis is 10-5-10 and these spikes are perfect for acid-loving trees like Japanese maples.

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Fertilization Guide for Japanese Maples

For your Japanese maple to remain vibrant and beautiful, it is equally important to know when and how to apply fertilizer.

It can have a serious impact on the health and growth of your tree to apply too much fertilizer too frequently. 

When To Fertilize Japanese Maples

In late winter or after the last frost in spring, apply a slow-release or controlled-release fertilizer.

It encourages slow, methodical growth and leads to more vibrant leaves and stems for the Japanese maple. 

Where To Apply Fertilizer for Japanese Maples

Branches should be fertilized halfway between the truck’s drip line and the application point for slow-release granular/pellet fertilizers.

Spreading fertilizer over the soil can negatively affect its effectiveness.

Divide the appropriate dosage equally between the fertilizer holes, and drill a few small holes between the drip line and trunk.

Once the holes have been filled with soil and the ground around the tree has been watered, backfill the holes with soil.

How Often To Fertilize Japanese Maples

If you follow the above fertilization steps, the Japanese maple will have adequate nutrients for 12 months.

It is important to ensure that you use a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen in order to prevent sudden growth spurts that may cause the tree to weaken. 

When Not To Fertilize Japanese Maples

In the second year of a Japanese maple’s growth, it is best not to fertilize it too early. Most new trees need to be fertilized only in their second year.

It is best to feed trees after the last frosts of late winter, as unexpected freezes can damage their new growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Far Should a Japanese Maple Be Planted From a House?

It is possible to negatively impact root development and growth of a Japanese maple by planting it too close to a house.

As the roots search for nutrients and water, the root system extends 5-20 feet beyond the branch line.

For small dwarf cultivars, the recommended distance from a house foundation, pathway, or driveway is six feet. For larger cultivars, the distance should be increased to fifteen feet. 

How Long Do Japanese Maples Take To Grow?

A Japanese maple grows between 1-2 feet per year and is a slow-growing deciduous tree.

It takes them between seven and ten years to reach maturity; however, it can take them up to 20 years to reach their maximum height.

It is best to confirm the height and growth rate of your Japanese maple when purchasing it from a nursery or supplier.  


With its brilliant foliage, vibrant colors, and easy-to-grow habits, the Japanese maple makes a stunning focal point in any garden.

Japanese maples have attractive foliage and healthy growth due to their slow growth.

In order to ensure your garden is filled with gorgeous fall color displays, ensure it receives a constant supply of nutrients.

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