Help with dying Bloodgood

krateliffApril 22, 2007

I am worried that my poor tree may be dying and am desperate for help. It's a Monrovia Acer palmatum var. atropurpureum `Bloodgood`. I bought the tree last November and we kept it inside all winter as a houseplant. In March I noticed that it did not seem to be doing too well in the house. It had a few dead twigs on the ends of some of the branches and it didn't have any leaves at all. It had a lot of leaf buds on it though, so I hoped that planting it in the yard where it would get more sun would help.

Ten days ago I planted the tree in our backyard and trimmed off all of the dead wood. It's located about ten feet away from the house. It gets lots of sun in the mornings and the house shades it in the afternoons. We have heavy clay soil and I'm worried about drainage around the tree. I dug another hole the same day as I planted the tree, but I haven't gotten around to planting anything in the hole yet. I've noticed (with alarm) that the hole is full of standing water that has not drained out for the past ten days. I was worried that my poor tree was sitting in water so I bought a moisture meter from Lowe's and tested the soil and it reads very wet. I have not watered the tree for 10 days so I feel certain that it is sitting in water that is not draining.

I am very new to gardening and have no idea how long things take to take affect. The tree has been planted for 10 days now and hasn't had any more of it's limbs die as far as I can tell. 1 leaf has opened up, but it is only about 1/4" big. I didn't expect such tiny leaves. None of the other buds have opened yet. I scratched the bark on several of the limbs and it is green underneath so I feel that the tree isn't dead yet. But I don't know what to do for it. Should I leave it alone and see how it does or should I dig it up and try to improve the soil around it?

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Your problem was probably keeping it inside for the winter as maples require a certain period of dormancy for them to survive. In texas the colder it gets during the winter would be better for the tree as they prefer extended periods of 30 or so degree weather.

The drainage issue is very important as JMs will get root rot easily if planted too deep or in wet soil. If you don't do it now you will have to dig it up soon and get it above the surface of the clay. It is actually best to practically place the tree on top of the clay (without digging into it more than a few inches) and filling topsoil around it mounding to the side of the root ball. You must also be careful not to allow any soil or mulch to contact the trunk to prevent girdling.

I have to be honest things don't look good. But keep your fingers crossed, it might make it.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 8:16PM
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Thank you so much for your advice. I dug up the tree and put it in a slightly bigger pot than it originally came in with fresh potting soil and left it in my back yard where I want to eventually plant it. I added mulch to the top of the pot to keep it from drying out too much. I've used my moisture meter every day to check the soil and have only watered when needed. It has been about ten days since I dug it up and repotted. Most of the buds on the tree apear to be dying but yesterday a few bloomed with more tiny leaves. These leaves are about half an inch in size. I see a few more buds turning red so I have my fingers crossed and breath held. Should I fertilize the tree and if so with what?


    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 3:23PM
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I would refrain from fertilizing right now. The tree is under great stress and the slightest innaccuracy in fertilization could push it over the edge. JMs do not generally like fertilizer when in the ground, but may need some if left in a pot for a long time. Regardless, I would hold off until at least the fall before considering fertilzer in your case.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 10:22PM
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