Alan Titchmarsh explains how to prune an Acer tree

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Acers are known for their attractive leaves and gorgeous autumnal colours which can turn various different colours before their leaves fall. With autumn just around the corner, an expert has shared top tips on how to care for the plant, including how to prune the “anti-pruning” Japanese maple.

Tristan Sissons from Homebase told “Acers, otherwise known as Japanese Maples, are small, beautifully formed trees with spectacular Autumnal colourings. 

“Whether you have a huge garden space, a small patio or just enough space for a container, acers make an ace addition to any garden.

“The range of colours they come in means you can find one that suits your space perfectly. Here are our top tips for acer care.”

Firstly, the expert explained that acers love cool climates, meaning they should be planted in cooler areas with shady spots.

If planted in a container, they should be placed in the same area if possible, sheltered from cold winds.

Gardeners should also keep their plants away from full sunlight as it can cause the leaves to scorch.

Tristan added: “Make sure in winter they don’t get caught in a frost pocket.

“Acidic soil is ace for an acer. Acers should have slightly acidic, sandy, and well-drained soil that does not dry out in warmer weather or become waterlogged.

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“If their roots are kept moist, and the pots have great drainage and aeration, an acer will flourish in a container.

“If the hot weather continues into autumn, be sure to water them twice a day.”

The majority of plants love to be pruned at certain times of the year to encourage new growth.

Pruning can also help to keep a plant in shape as well as help to prevent the spread of diseases.

Tristan added: “It’s the anti-pruning plant. Pruning should only be done to improve an acer’s overall shape and to encourage healthy growth, they don’t like to be pruned.

“Pruning is best carried out when the sap is falling in late summer or autumn.”

This is a great time to prune acer to reduce the sap running out of the tree.

As always with pruning, gardeners should take out any “dead, damaged or diseased” wood or any branches that cross over or are growing in the wrong direction.

If you have a smaller tree, sometimes the branches may get congested towards the middle of the tree, meaning pruning is necessary.

Gardeners can also enhance the appearance of maples with brightly-coloured new shoots by pruning to a short trunk before mid-winter.

This will create a shrubby growth, ideal for smaller gardens as well as large.

The tree may also benefit from a feed during the winter months as it will encourage growth or mulch can be added to help the soil retain moisture.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said: “So trees do not dry out and to suppress weeds, mulch with a 10cm layer of garden compost or mulching bark.

“Do keep it away from the trunk as it will rot if covered.”

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