New spring japanese maple leaves are wilting/dying

driin(5)May 12, 2008

I planted a Green-Leafed Japanese maple tree late last spring. It has done well in its location all year; new spring buds covered the tree and tons of leaves started to pop out within this past month.

Over the weekend though, I noticed that most of the new leaves appeared to be wilting and/or dying! Most of them haven't even finished coming out and plumping up yet, but I can definitely tell that they look different than the newly emerging (healthy) spring leaves.

I still have about 1/4 of the branches looking (mostly) healthy but the rest of the tree looks pretty miserable.

What could be the cause of this?

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staceybeth(7 MA)

I could be a number of things Drinn,

Are you overwatering it? If so, you could be drowning it if there is not enough drainage. Also, what kind of soil do you have where you are? How much sun is it getting... too much sun would do that too... Also, check the trunk and make sure there are not buggies... Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 12:13PM
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You mention that about 1/4 of the tree looks good. Do all of the healthy looking branches originate from the same piece of trunk? or are they spread throughout the entire canopy?

Do you notice any difference in the color between healthy and sick foliage?

Also, have you had any late frosts or freezes, or any other weather oddities recently?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 1:59PM
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I examined the tree again last night. Those wilting leaves are definitely dead now, though those few healthy branches still seem to be hanging on OK.

We haven't had any late frosts persay - nothing that has affected any other plants/trees in the yard.

I don't think the leaves were sun-scorched, as the tree survived quite well in this location all throughout the hot/sunny summer and early fall last year.

Overwatering could be a possibility; we have had a lot of rain lately. Would overwatering only kill off some of the leaves/stress out part of the tree though?

Another possibility...?

The maple didn't really lose its leaves last fall and in the winter we had an ice storm. Ice stuck to the dead leaves, weighing the tree down; for half a day it was literall bent in half with its top branch tips and leaves touching the ground. When it melted, the tree popped right back up again but most of the branches were left slightly curved in the direction the tree was bent.

Looking at the branches last night, it seemed that all of those that still remained curved had the dead leaves. Those with straight stems/branches had healthy looking leaves.

Is it possible that the tree is suffering from some sort of delayed stress reaction to the ice storm? As mentioned before, it looked great with all the new buds and fresh leaves in early spring...

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 12:00PM
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The fact that only some of the branches are affected has me quite interested. If it is possible, I would love to get to see a pic of the tree, far enough away that the entire canopy can be seen.

There is a fungal disease that can cause very similar symptoms. It is called verticillium wilt and damages the tree by blocking the vascular tissue that brings water and nutrients up the tree and sugars back down the tree. This makes things tricky due to the fact that over watering, under watering, and a variety of root/soil problems can also cause identical symptoms. In my opinion though, verticillium is blamed far more than it is the true cause.

What has been used as a fertilizer on or near the maple? And how often?'

Has anyone used pesticides recently?

Has there been any construction on the property?

If mulched, you might pull the mulch back from the trunk to ensure that animals such as mice have not eaten the bark during the winter.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 2:04PM
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