How to Prune a Dwarf Japanese Maple

Updated July 19, 2017

Dwarf Japanese maples are part of the Acer palmatum cultivar of the Japanese maples. It is the compact version that grows slowly. The dwarf Japanese maple adds red flare to a garden bed amongst flowers and foliage such as hostas, creating a Zen look. They will grow well in a container or rock garden with a pond or water fountain nearby. Keeping them pruned will promote new growth. You can prune any time during the year but pruning the maple in the winter when it is dormant is best according to the Maple Tree Care website.

Examine the tree carefully deciding on the shape, height and look you want for your tree. Consider the height and width of the surrounding plants especially if you are making the maple the centre of attention.

Prune away dead leaves and branches with bypass pruners for smaller branches and a pruning saw for larger branches according to the Oregon Live website. This will promote new growth and keep the tree free of diseases that could spread to healthy parts of the tree as well as surrounding plants.

Remove any overlapping branches making sure to cut only those branches; cut near the base without harming the branches that you do not want to cut.

Avoid pruning the tree after the temperature has reached 80 F, recommends Fine Gardening. This will cause scalding of the tree when limbs are removed.


Make sure the tools you use to prune with are sharp. Planting the dwarf Japanese maple in the sun will ensure healthy new growth of foliage.

Things You'll Need

  • Bypass pruners
  • Pruning saw
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