Indoor Japanese Maple

unicoleMay 31, 2010

I just got a waterfall Japanese maple for my birthday. I live in an apartment in San Francisco near the beach, where it's very windy and salty, and whatever I bring outside gets infested with caterpillars. So I would like to grow this tree indoors.

I have found a lot of forums that talk about how you shouldn't do this, but there is always the one or two people that say they do grow theirs indoors (and leave no instructions on how they've made it work). Some time next year I'll be moving to Virginia, where I'll be able to take it outside, so this is just a temporary situation.

So my question is, what can I do to grow a healthy japanese maple tree indoors? Should I mist it? What happens if the tree does not get a dormant period (it wouldn't anyway in SF). What should I do when I do finally take it outside? Will that even work, or would the change kill it?



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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Nicole!

Japanese maples really do belong outside.
They need fresh air circulation, as well as natural light.

Indoors, a Japanese maple will steadily decline - sometimes they'll live a few years,
sometimes they'll die within the first year. Similarly, if the tree doesn't experience dormancy,
it will lose vitality over the course of a few seasons...until it finally expires.

Misting doesn't do anything for the tree (or for any plants, really)
unless in a very controlled environment.

Have you kept the tree indoors?


    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 9:43AM
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Hi Josh,

I have not put the tree outside, because not much survives out there. It is very windy, the air is a bit salty, and the biggest problem: caterpillars.

Right now, the leaves are drying out at the edges. It doesn't look that great but there are some buds on it. Any suggestions on how to keep the caterpillars off? I may be able to block the wind a bit.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 6:53PM
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mike423(5 IL)

greenman28 is right the tree is deciduous which means it will need a dormant period to regather itself. I know a person in Hawaii who uses a fridge that he places his tree's in for the suggested dormant time for healthy recuperation. I've never done this myself since I haven't had the need to but it should be feasible. I have heard by some though that this method takes practice and you need to get the knack for getting just right or you could kill the tree which might happen on the first few attempts. My advice would be should you consider trying this method that you acquire (if possible) some cheaper deciduous trees to do some test runs with.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 11:30AM
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I have a similar question, however, I live in Utah. I technically can grow this outside with no issues but I was wanting to try taking my Japanese maple to work and keep it at my desk. From reading some forums and from what I read, this tree needs to have this dormancy period. So what if I grew it in my open office building, use a grow light then take it outside in the fall. Would my maple survive?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 5:37PM
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Any plant that is indoors for a long period of time needs to be put in heavy shade outside.
This is to protect it from the bright sun light.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 3:12PM
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