Soil For Japanese Maple: 10 Potting Mixes Perfect For Palmate Maple

When gardening, you might run into many options on how to choose a gardening soil, and of course a soil for Japanese maple is no different. In this list, I will provide you 10 soils that are suited for Japanese maples.

My personal favorite is this Tinyroots Deciduous Bonsai Soil Blend. What I like most about it is that it is a blend made specially with the Japanese maple in mind. Because of this, I think it is a perfect soil for Japanese maples.

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Top 5 Soil for Japanese Maple

What Kind of Soil Mix is Best for this Plant?

Well-drained, yet moist soil mix is best soil for Japanese maple. For Japanese maples in containers, try selecting a bonsai mix, as it will offer aeration and drainage to its roots while also holding in a proper amount of moisture.

10 Soils for Japanese Maple

1. Tinyroots Deciduous Bonsai Soil Blend

Premium organic bonsai soil for Japanese maple

  • Two available sizes
  • Made from organic materials
  • Mineral-enriched

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This soil mix from Tinyroots is a perfect soil suited for the needs of the Japanese maple.  This soil mix recipe consists of akadama, turface, coarse river sand, pine bark, and frit. All together they combine into a quality, organic blend perfect for your plants. In addition, this mix is available in either a 2 quart to 4 quart bag to make repotting a breeze.


Reviewers were thrilled with this product for bonsais, saying that it had helped their bonsais grow healthier and stronger. However, some unimpressed buyers said they did not like using this soil, a few commenting on how this soil is hard to retain moisture.

2. Leaves & Soul Bonsai Soil

Premium all-purpose bonsai mix

  • Friendly for all bonsai varieties
  • Resealable bag
  • Maximizes aeration

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This Leaves & Soul Potting mix is a great soil for a Japanese maple in containers. This soil is comprised of red lava rock, limestone pearock, calcined clay, and pine bark. This mix of ingredients is helpful to your plant because it provides aeration while also retaining enough water for nourishment. If you do have leftovers, don’t worry, this bag is conveniently resealable!


Reviewers loved this potting soil for its quality, saying that it was perfect for both water retention as well as drainage. They also loved the introduction of pine bark in it, saying it was a nice touch of organic material for their plants. However, unhappy buyers did report that they were unimpressed with the product, saying that they thought the soil was low quality to them and didn’t do much for the longevity of their plant.

3. Tinyroots All Purpose Bonsai Soil Mix

All-purpose organic bonsai mix

  • Organic mixture
  • Good for root growth
  • Comes in two sizes

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Tinyroots offers a quality, organic bonsai soil that works great as a soil for Japanese maples. Composed of a mixture of composted mulch, calcined clay, vermiculite, and frit, this meets all the soil preferences of a Japanese maple bonsai. For those needing a large quantity of bonsai soil, this product conveniently comes in a large, 2.5 gallon package, which is rather unique for most bonsai soils.


Happy reviewers said that this bonsai soil was helpful to the health of their plants. They specifically mentioned their approval of the high quality of this mix. However, unsatisfied reviewers said they were disappointed in this soil mix, specifically pointing out that there were too many wood chips for their liking.

4. Dirtco Bonsai Tree Plant Soil

 All-natural potting mix for bonsai trees

  • 100% natural ingredients
  • Fast-draining soil
  • Helps prevent root rot

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This Dirtco potting soil is a natural blend of ingredients to make a great soil for Japanese maples. Composed of a mix of horticultural peat moss, perlite, lime, worm castings, charcoal, and mulch, this makes for a great all-purpose planting mix for bonsais. This mix is available in a 2 quart bag.


Reviewers were impressed with this rich mixture of ingredients, saying it was great for their plants. Some disappointed reviewers expressed disapproval over the contents of the mix, saying they had to amend the soil with additional ingredients to suit their own specifications.

5. Tinyroots Akadama Premium Bonsai Soil

Premium akadama used for bonsai planting

  • Changes colors to indicate moisture
  • Provides great drainage and aeration
  • Made from volcanic soil

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This akadama potting soil from Tinyroots makes for an excellent soil for Japanese maples. The akadama is made from sifted volcanic soil, which provides great aeration and drainage. In addition, akadama changes color when wet. It goes from a lighter shade to a darker shade when it has been watered, making this a great indication of when you should water your plant!


This potting mix receives great reviewers from buyers who said that their plants have been flourishing ever since they made a switch to using this mix. On the other hand, some reviewers were displeased with this product, saying that they felt that the akadama crumbled too easily for them.

6. The Bonsai Supply Bonsai Soil

Fast-draining bonsai soil mix

  • Natural blend of ingredients
  • Resealable package
  • Multiple size options

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This soil for Japanese maples from The Bonsai Supply is a perfect mixture of natural ingredients that ensure the well being of your plant. Packed in a resealable package, this soil mixture is comprised of pumice stone, black lava rock, calcined clay, and pine bark fines. This mixture is available in a few sizes: 2 quarts, 4 quarts, and 20 quarts, which is convenient for gardening of any size!


Buyers of this product were thrilled with the quality that they received with this soil mixture. They loved how aerated and well-draining it was. However, there were some displeased buyers who said this soil was not suitable for their plants, and that they found the texture to be too rocky.

7. Perfect Plants Bonsai Soil

Premium all-purpose bonsai soil mix

  • Lightweight bonsai mix
  • Made in the US
  • Resealable bag
  • Available in two sizes

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This product from Perfect Plants makes for an excellent soil for Japanese maples. This soil mixture is lightweight and provides aeration for your plant. This product comes in either a 2 quart bag or 8 quart bag that is conveniently resealable if you have leftovers.


Reviewers agree that this organic bonsai soil is the perfect addition to their garden. They specifically commended the rich quality of this planting mix. However, unhappy reviewers were displeased with the ingredients of this soil mix, saying that they did not like the amount of pine park. They felt that it wasn’t a suitable soil medium for their plants.

8. Bonsai Jack Universal Organic Soil Mix

Organic bonsai mixture

  • pH of 6.4
  • Sifted and pre-washed
  • Made with natural ingredients

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This Bonsai Jack soil mix is a great soil for your Japanese maple bonsai. This soil mix is composed of 40% pumice stone, 40% calcined clay, and 20% pine bark. These ingredients help promote good airflow among roots as well as proper water retention. In addition, the pH of this soil is 6.4 making it optimal for the needs of the Japanese maple.


Reviewers love this product for their bonsai plants, saying that it was the perfect mix to keep their plants looking happy and healthy. Though, some reviewers do warn that it is fast-draining and you may have to be more attentive with making sure you water consistently.

9. Superfly Bonsai Soil Mix

Bonsai soil that promotes good drainage yet with ample moisture retention

  • Pre-mixed
  • Good aeration
  • Resealable bag

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This Superfly Bonsai soil mix meets the specific needs of a Japanese maple bonsai. This mixture is comprised of Japanese Akadama, pumice, and USA sourced black lava. These ingredients help retain a proper amount of moisture while also aerating the roots of your plant, which is essential for its growth.


Reviewers were happy with this soil because of its well-draining properties and high quality. Disappointed customers, however, said this soil really did not do much for their plant, as well as some reporting that the soil is fragile and breaks down very easily.

10. Calibonsai Japanese Kanuma Soil

Slightly acidic bonsai soil

  • pH of 5.2 to 5.6
  • Made in Japan
  • Small bag size

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This soil mixture from Calibonsai is made from small grain kanuma, which is a porous, lightweight volcanic pumice. This material is great for your Japanese maples because it will provide excellent aeration while also retaining the right amount of moisture. Its pH is balanced to 5.2 – 5.6, which is perfect for acid-loving Japanese maples.

Which One Should You Choose?

Soil for Japanese Maple

There are many options to choose from when selecting a soil for Japanese maples. If you want an all-around great choice for your plant, I suggest you go with Tinyroots Deciduous Bonsai Soil Blend or Perfect Plants Bonsai Soil. If you want something more all-purpose, try Tinyroots All Purpose Bonsai So il Mix, or Dirtco Bonsai Tree Plant Soil.

What pH range is Best for this Plant?

Potting mix for Palmate Maple

Japanese maples do not like soil mixtures that are highly alkaline (meaning their pH is higher than 8). If you find your soil is in an alkaline pH range, using soil sulfur helps lower the pH level. They survive best in a slightly acidic pH range.

Is Acidic Soil Good for Japanese Maple?

Planting medium for Acer palmatum

Yes, most gardeners do tend to plant their dwarf Japanese maple in slightly acidic soil. However, they are able to survive in a neutral or a slightly alkaline soil, but please stay clear of anything over 8.0, which is highly alkaline. If you feel like the soil pH is too high, you can always use an acidifier such as soil sulfur.

What Fertilizer Ratio is Best for this Plant?

Soil for Japanese Maple

Palmate maples do not typically require a heavy fertilization regiment. However, if you do want to go the extra step, opt for a slow releasing fertilizer such as Osmocote. Please follow the package instructions for a healthy plant.

What is a Good Pot Size for a New Plant like that?

For a new Japanese maple, it is best to select a pot that is twice the size of its root system.

What is a Good Pot Size for a Fully Grown Plant?

Potting mix for Palmate Maple

Once again, it is recommended to use a pot twice the size of the plant’s root system. For example, if you’re repotting a smooth Japanese maple with a root system stretching 12 inches, opt for a pot that is 24 inches in diameter. Japanese maples will become root bound, so please repot them whenever you feel that it is appropriate, or typically every few years.

What is the Original Habitat of this Plant?

The Acer palmatum is native to Japan, Korea, and China.

What’s a Good Mulch for Japanese Maple?

Planting medium for Acer palmatum

A good mulch for Japanese maples is one with shredded bark from a hardwood tree.

My Personal Favorite

Soil for Japanese Maple

Out of these many soils for Japanese maples, my choice is this Tinyroots Deciduous Bonsai Soil Blend. What I like most about it is that it is a blend made specifically with the needs of the Japanese maple in mind. The ingredients are natural, and enriched with minerals for the health of your plant. For these reasons, I think it is a perfect soil for Japanese maples.

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