Grow a maple tree indoors is possible as long as you meet the right seasonal conditions, follow the right steps, and put in enough effort.Grow a Maple Tree Indoors

You’ll need to stunt their growth and control their natural size by regularly trimming their roots and caring for them. Let’s walk you through a step-by-step guide on how you can accomplish the mission of growing Japanese maple trees indoors.

What Are the Steps to Grow Maples Indoors?

Growing maples indoors is a task that requires you to make the right tree selection, choose the right location, pot your selected tree the right way, water your plant, simulate the natural conditions needed by the plant, control its growth, and repotting your tree.

1. Making the Right Tree Selection and Choosing Your Location

There are many maple tree varieties you can plant indoors. However, it’s recommended that you work with a type of dwarf Japanese maple tree. The reason is that these types of maple trees mature at about three to ten feet, and they tend to have smaller root systems as well.

Select the right location for your tree; note that there are various types of trees that can be grown indoors, but small Japanese varieties are perfect for indoor growing. Make sure the location you’ve decided on is one with a mild climate, as this will be crucial to your tree’s health. This is the right place that you want to select a location with a plant hardiness zone between five and nine, though some cold and hardy maple trees can survive in lower zones.

Remember that if you decide to grow a red dragon maple tree, expect a slow growth rate since they are slow-growing shrubs, and they may also grow up to five feet tall; on the other hand, the dragon maples are also frost tolerant, they can accommodate direct sunlight, and they thrive well in plant hardiness zones between five and eight. If you choose to work with a ribbon-leaf maple, expect them to grow up to 10 feet with an upright and dense form.

If you pick to grow some ribbon-leaf maples are perfect for bonsai and container pots, and they do well in zones between six and nine. Whereas the Velvet Viking is another maple you can grow, and it features very compact and hard shrubs that can grow as large as five feet wide and four feet tall. In addition, the Vikings also do well in shade and direct sunlight, and they thrive in zones between four and nine.

2. Pot Your Maple Tree

Once you’ve decided on the ideal maple bonsai indoors tree for you, the next step is to utilize the methods for growing maple trees in pots. You’ll need one part of perlite or pumice, three parts of quality potting soil, and two parts of bark chips.

While the perlite or pumice will help your plants retain air, water, and nutrients, the bark chips will ensure the soil is a little acidic, thereby aerating. This would allow it to have a proper enhanced drainage capabilities and nutrient retention for an extended period.Potted Maple Tree

For the pumice, it’s recommended that you get agricultural-grade pumice. Make sure that you would wash it and remove any particles before using it. Once you have these key elements ready, you can put on your gardening gloves and get a pot that’s at least double the size of your sapling, and for this, you can opt to use three-gallon pots as they are perfect for dwarf maple saplings.

Fill your new container or pot with the potting mix, including the soil, bark chips, and perlite or pumice. For this to be accurate, you must make a hole that’ll accommodate your maple sapling; the hole should be deep enough such that the root ball system is about an inch below your pot’s rim.

Take out the maple sampling from its current home and remove any soil sticking to the root. Then you should plant the sapling into its new home and add more soil until you have filled the container to the top of the root ball.

3. Water and Fertilize Your Tree

The next step here is to water and fertilize your tree, and for this, you will need to utilize a slow-release organic fertilizer as this type of fertilizer contains bacteria that will further enhance your tree’s ability to take in nutrients and water. Begin by aiming to water your potted Japanese maple every morning, and make sure it’s just the right amount of water.

But remember how too much water can cause sogginess, which can, in turn, cause root rot or root suffocation, which is why if you wish to determine the right amount of water, water the plant till the soil feels moist instead of soaked.

You’ll need to apply fertilizer twice a year for the best results, and with this, the ideal times to apply fertilizers are in the middle of March and early July. Make sure not to fertilize your tree later in the season, as doing so can damage the roots of your tree.

4. Simulating Natural Conditions

For your saplings to grow into strong, beautiful Japanese maples, you need to provide them with natural conditions that are suitable for them. For instance, while variegated and lacey trees thrive in partial shade, the ones with green leaves do well in direct sunlight.Maple Tree in Natural Conditions

Also, since most maples do well in cooler temperatures, you’ll have to find a way to replicate that condition as well. You can now use high-intensity discharge, which is also abbreviated by HID lights, or similar Japanese maple indoor lights to replicate and control sun intensity.

Take your Japanese maple bonsai outside during summer and spring nights to allow them to enjoy cooler temperatures. For convenience, you can place your trees on a wheeled plant stand, so you can move them around easily.

But during the end of October, you must try to help your Japanese maples enter their dormant cycle by storing them in an unheated garage during winter according to the maple variety you have, as well as the hardiness zone of your region. If you can’t store them in an unheated garage, you can insulate the pot by using hay, mulch, and chicken wire to create a closed fence.

Use the wire to create a fence around the pot and put the hay and mulch inside the fence. Place your potted maple on the insulated floor and use hay and mulch to cover the tree, and be sure that the hay and mulch cover every part of the pot, from the group to the top of the pot.

If you have a yard, you can insulate the plant during winter by burying the whole pot, including the tree, into the earth. Insulating your plant allows the tree to enter its dormant cycle and help prevent root damage caused by frost.

5. Control Your Tree’s Growth

The next step to growing maple trees indoors is to control their growth. You can do that by first cutting off any diseased, dead, or broken branches with your pruning shears that has been sterilized.Controlling Maple Trees Growth

During summer, cut off decayed leaves as you’ll be able to see the tree in its full shape. But if you wish your maple tree to grow taller, use your heavy-duty pruning shears to trim off the roots once every couple of years.

However, if you wish to keep your tree small, stunt its growth before you plant it by carefully trimming off one-fifth of its root when it’s still a sapling. But to permanently stop your tree from growing taller, slide a trowel or the edge of a small shovel into the side of your pot and work your way around, trimming the roots.

6. Repotting Your Tree

You should repot your tree every two years. This task should be done when your tree’s roots are dormant, between October and March. Once you notice that your tree’s roots are showing underneath the drain holes, the leaves are crisping, or the soil it’s planted in isn’t draining properly. To repot your maple tree, you must first water the tree and make the soil that’s around the edges loose.Repotting Maple Tree

With the help of another person, gently tug at the tree to pull it out, and now make sure you’re holding the main stem’s base when pulling the tree out. Prepare a new pot with your soil recipe, make a hole for your tree, and plant it in. Once you’re done, pat the soil until it reaches the top of the root ball, then water it properly but be careful because the soil should not be compact.


That’s all about how to grow a Japanese maple indoors. Here is a quick sum-up to make sure you have all you need to grow indoor Japanese maple trees:

  • Repotting your tree at the right time will ensure that the root system doesn’t decline.
  • If you intend to make your tree as short as possible, trim the roots continuously.
  • Over-fertilizing your tree can make it difficult to control your tree’s growth.
  • If you’re growing a variegated maple tree, refrain from exposing it to direct sunlight.

Remember always to help your tree enter its dormant state. If you disregard the dormancy or allow your tree’s soil to freeze, there’s a good chance it’ll affect its growth significantly.

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