Problem with Autumn Blaze Maple? Picture Links

gpoitrasJuly 25, 2009

First off, here are the pictures. Problem described below. Thank you in advance for any replies.

I purchased and planted this Autumn Blaze Maple (2.5" - 3" diameter trunk) in May of this year. It was about late June when I noticed the top of the tree turning colors like it would normally do in the late fall. Upon closer inspection I noticed some droopy leaves (maybe they are supposed to look like they are droopy). Now it is late July and the entire tree is looking like it's ready to change colors and loose it's leaves. Some leaves have already fallen to the ground.

The soil is mostly clay.

There area on one side of the tree is usually moist as the grade in my lot allows for water from the neighbors (when they water their grass) to run through my back-yard. I usually water the tree once a week with about 5 to 10 gallons of water which I give to the tree via the bucket you see. I've drilled small holes in the bottom to let the tree sip the water. Otherwise the tree gets water when I water my grass via the sprinkler. Maybe an hour in the evening, twice a week. In June I also gave the tree some ironite. I have approximately 3 inches of mulch around the tree.

I have a clevland pear planted in the back-yard as well and I am not having any problems with it.

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Mike Larkin

First the tree is planted too deep. The root flair should be at the same level as the soil level. This may not cause the tree to become stressed in a short period of time but it will cause problems over a long period of time.
The tree looks stressed. Droopy leaves and premature turning red is a sign of stress and lack of water. The clay soil should not be a big problem. Well drained soil would be better, but this tree sometimes called swamp maple will tolerate clay or damp soil. One question - how large was the hole when you planted it. Was it 6-8" wider than the rootball? Did you lossen the rootball of the tree before you planted? Hopefuly you did not fertilize to make it grow faster.
My guess is water - or lack of water. First the sprinkler does not do do a good job. The bucket with the holes is a good idea. Maybe check the soil with you finger in the soil see if it is wet or dry. If the leaves are real droopy, try more water.

BTW try to remove the mulch around the trunk until you can see the root flair


    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 7:09PM
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Thanks mike. The builder planted the tree and yes the hole is about 6 or 8 inches wider, the sod is covering it up a little since it was laid after the fact. I will try to water a little more and see if things improve. If it is in fact too deep, should I try to pull the tree and add in more soil? I am not for sure if the rootball was broken up some when it was initially planted but if I had to guess, it was. It's hard to tell now without going back to my builder and asking the questions specifically

When the hole was initially dug, I had the planter put in some fungus stuff which was recommended by the nursery..the name of it is passing my memory right now.

The only fertilizer I've used thus far was Ironite.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 11:00PM
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I went to water the tree today and decided to check the depth of the rootball, sure enough it was about 4 inches below ground level. As soon as I started to remove the mulch, there was a nice layer of clay on top of the rootball. As I started to remove the clay I noticed what looked like sawdust or roots trying to grow out of the tree. Not sure what it was but those are my guesses. Either the tree is trying to adapt to being too deep in the ground or something maybe is starting to eat the trunk? Here's a picture for a more accurate diagnosis. Thanks again for any replies.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 1:14PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

That is all normal. No need at all to be concerned. This is very typical for anything planted the same year.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 9:25AM
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Planted way too deep.

The planting hole was not near big enough.
There's mulch touching the trunk- a no no
Why is the tree staked so much?

Here's another surprise. That doesn't look like an autumn blaze maple either. It looks like a red maple of some kind. That's not a bad thing.

Anyway you might as well try to excavate the root flare if you can or replant it altogether this time dig a hole twice as big as the root ball and make sure the root flare is above grade and visible.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 7:31PM
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Don't worry too much about it. I also live in the KC area and have seen several other trees that look the same as yours does right now. Like Dax said, this is pretty typical for a tree that has just been planted this year (Especially one as large as yours).

Also, the person above is correct that this is not an Autumn Blaze maple (I actually have had the exact same experience LOL) I would guess it is probably a Red Sunset Maple...very pretty, a little slower growing, but actually a more $$$$$ tree!

If you don't change anything, the tree will still survive. The easiest thing to do would simply be to pull the mulch back as you have already done. If it still drives you crazy, then you could try to lift it this fall and plant it a little higher.

Good luck, and enjoy your early fall color!!!! :-)

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 3:59PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

That was planted too deep. I must have been spacing off thinking about Disney or something. You probably added microhaize to the soil. Unfortunately that is rot occurring. I don't know what's going to happen but it's pretty early in the game. You need to raise it and as all suggestions above be, make sure the roots are all untangled and going into man-made slits in the hole, plus tuck them in. Then re-mulch, re-stake, and I believe it will live and be just fine or, you'll find out in the next year if all the bark falls off at that base wherever you live. Then it's a mere eyesore that will live but will be screwed up all its' life and you'll never like the damn thing.......or the thing will die and put you out of your misery. Three things could happen, I hope it's the first. Make sure you plant it level with your mound or soil line. That six inches or four of extra depth created all that fungus which occurred from rot...not good, not good at all. It's always going to be weak if the bark falls off and succeptible to insects and every other disease. That's when you'll know to get rid of it.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 9:18PM
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