Red-leaved acer

How to plant an acer in a pot

Find out how to pot up an acer or Japanese maple in this step-by-step guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do To do in January

Do To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do To do in November

Do To do in December

Japanese maples, or acers, are ideal for pots as they’re slow growing and make stunning focal points.

As well as being easy to look after, they’ll reward you with feathery plumage all summer that slowly changes colour as the weather turns colder. Look forward to a blaze of fiery reds, russet browns, oranges and butter yellows.

They’ll eventually need repotting, so don’t forget to watch our video on when to repot an acer.

My potted acer keeps dying – why?

In this Quick Tips video, Kate Bradbury, BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, explains how to provide the best growing conditions for potted acers, and how to keep them looking their best:

Follow our step-by-step guide to planting an acer in a pot, below.

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You Will Need

  • Acer
  • Large pot
  • Compost, equal-part mix of ericaceous compot and John Inners No.3
  • Decorative mulch

Total time:

Step 1

Half-fill the pot with compost, then remove the acer from its container and position it in the middle of the pot.

Fill the container with compost and remove the acer from its pot
Fill the container with compost and remove the acer from its pot

Step 2

Fill in around the plant with fresh compost and firm it in gently, making sure it’s planted at the same depth as it was in its original container.

Fill around the plant with fresh compost
Fill around the plant with fresh compost

Step 3

Top the compost with a layer of decorative mulch, such as pebbles or crushed shells – this will help to avoid water loss in summer. Water well.

Top with a layer of mulch
Top with a layer of mulch
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