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Planting Japanese Maples

The Martha Stewart Show, November 2009

On a gorgeous autumn day, Martha joined her gardener, Shaun Kass, and his crew for a day of planting Japanese maples on her Bedford farm. 

With foliage colors ranging from light green to deep burgundy, 117 trees stood proudly by day's end.

Japanese Maple Planting How-To
1. Dig a hole in a well-prepared bed just deep enough to accommodate the container, and about twice as wide. With a new bed, add amendments as you turn the soil; when adding a plant to an existing display, mix compost and a slow-release organic fertilizer into the soil at the hole's bottom.

2. Slip the plant from its container and examine the roots. If the plant has been in the container too long, it may have become root-bound -- the roots may have circled around the outside of the soil. If so, cut four 1-inch-deep slices down the sides and across the bottom of the root ball, as if you were quartering an apple.

3. Set the plant into the hole, and fill around it with compost-enriched soil. Pack the soil as you go, massaging it into place with your fingertips or the end of a bamboo stake so no air pockets remain. When you've finished refilling the hole, surround the plant with a low dike of soil. Fill the resulting well with water, let it drain, and then fill it once more.

Related Content
See behind-the-scenes photos and read about choosing and planting Japanese maples on The Martha Blog.