Q: Will a red Japanese maple survive if moved to Naples, Florida?
Monday, January 4, 2016
I have a beautiful red Japanese maple tree that my mom gave me when we lived in Northern, Virginia. We recently moved to Naples, Florida, and I would like to bring the tree down as soon as our home is complete. Can you please tell me if it will survive here. Thanks so much!
A: Several questions must be answered before you move that Japanese maple. You did not say how big it is, so the first question relates to how practical a move is; if you don't do it right, you will incur costs and may be disappointed. Landscape nursery standards say to measure the stem at 6 inches above the soil line, and you will need a rootball that is 10 to 12 inches in diameter for each inch of stem diameter. So, if your Japanese maple is 4 inches in diameter at 6 inches above the soil, the rootball needs to be at least 40 inches across. That's a big, heavy rootball, and it won't fit in the car trunk.
Next, will Japanese maple survive in Naples, Florida? Yes, according to the University of Florida. It will do best if sheltered from the sun and will need diligent watering, but Japanese maples do grow in Florida.
The third question is part of the second: How will a Japanese maple that has been in Northern Virginia for some years react to being moved to Florida? There's no real good way to know, so you will be undertaking an experiment. But it will be a big change from what your tree is accustomed to. While moving your tree sounds good in theory, you are probably better off planting a new one that is acclimated to Florida's climate.
Responder: Ed Milhous, RCA #350, Haymarket, VA