Japanese Maple Need Help Please! Photos

seventowers(6)July 30, 2005

Hi , I planted this tree about a month ago and all was well until 2 days ago. It receives morning sun and then gets dappled light the rest of the day .

I do water it and when I do I give it a deep soak. Last water it was watered with a soaker hose.

Here are links to the pics of the leaves . It seems as if just the new growth is curling and drying .

I have waterd this tree once a week if we did not get significant rain.

There is also a new hydrangea plant in the same location.

The hydrangea wilted only slighty in the time period since both were planted.

Any advice will be very welcome.


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Layne_Uyeno(So. Cal.)


It seems your maple is fine. Sometimes tender new foliage will dry up in the heat of summer. As long as you don't see twig or branch die back and you know you're giving it proper waterings you're fine. Also, keep in mind that your maple experienced transplant and new environment shock and needs at least a year to adjust to it's new home.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 10:23PM
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Hi Layne ,
Thanks for responding. I think I may have allowed it to go too dry ? What confuses me on this is that a hydrangea is planted in this same bed right next to this maple . It was not showing wilt stress and I figured if the bed was too dry I would see that hydrangea show signs first . Is this wrong thinking on my end?
We did have some very high temps here in the 90's and the air was thick with humidity.
Today I caressed the leaves and many came off the plant and even some of the branches have no leaves now .
The leaf curl and dry areas are mostly on the older bottom growth but I did see this on the top growth as well .
Now I am going to stress on how often I should be watering it .
If it does manage to lose a significant amount of leaves Will this tree send out new leaves this year?
This tree gets a fair amount of light but it is dappled.
The Bed (soil)is amended with some compost , good topsoil mixed with portions of the original soil. There is free drainage due to it being planted not far from house foundation .
How often should I be watering this tree if no substantial rains come ?
Can I rely on the hydrangea that is planted next to this tree?
Sorry for all the questions but I would be so bummed if I loose this tree. Really bummed.
Thanks for any more help you can give.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 11:49PM
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nobreyner(z9 Houston)

hydrangea's love a lot of water. Japanese Maples not so much so as they like constantly moist soil. Both of these plants have very different watering needs. Of course I'd like a second option; just in case.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 6:06PM
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You could try to get a water meter. I know wal-mart has them and I use it. Could help. And have patience with the maples. If the stems are pliable,don`t be in a hurry to give up.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 6:10PM
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PoorOwner(Northern CA)

I think your maple will be fine. Sometimes a little hot wind will make the leaves do that. Try to poke the soil with your finger or a moisture meter, into the soil and if it is moist don't water it until it becomes dry.

I have a few maples in full sun, that is scroched much worse, dropped alot of leaves, they are now making new leaves.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 6:47PM
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Layne_Uyeno(So. Cal.)

Hi Laura,

Your watering schedule changes during the year. Much less water in the winter (if at all) and more in the summer. Water roughly once to twice a week during the summer months. Perhaps maybe three times a week if it's really hot. Deep watering is good, but remember that maples have shallow root systems. Your tree will need less water once it's established.

No Breyner is correct in that the hydrangea's water needs are different from the maple. When planting things together you have to take into account their water needs. But...it's not so different I think that the hydrangea can't adjust a bit more to the maple's water schedule. The reason your hydrangea didn't show signs of watering stress is probably because the leaves are thicker than the maple's and is less prone to burn from underwatering and drying winds.

A moisture meter with a probe that you stick in the dirt and gives you a reading of "dry" "moist" "wet" is like a good set of training wheels till you get the hang of watering during the different seasons. A word of caution. Keep in mind that just like using pruners from plant to plant can cause the spread of disease the use of the probe from plant to plant can spread soil born pathogens. If you suspect that your plant is suffering from a soil born virus, fungus or pest it's best to wipe it down with alcohol.

To put your mind at ease. I have a potted red seedling maple that I almost killed from underwatering. It dropped all it's leaves last year spring and was comatose this whole time. Most of the buds had blackened, but the main trunk still showed signs of life. I watered and fertilized it like all the other maples. Only in the last month or so has it begun putting out new leaves. In fact, it's putting out *two* sets of leaves where the original buds had died! One on either side of the dead bud. This shows that despite the frailty of maples they really are quite resilient.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 11:22PM
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Thanks for the responses everyone.
Layne , I have lost all the leaves and I suspect it was underwater. I watered once a week deep soak .
Regarding the hydrangea being where it is , I figured the same in that it can adapt to the maples requirements. I will get a meter . I have worked with indoor plants for most of my life but outdoor is I am learning a whole other story.
Do laceleaf Maples once established this tempramental ?Also now that the leaves are all gone 2 times a week water is still ok ? Stems look fine , the rest of the leaves came off today and I most definitely know I underwatered.
But now with leaves gone won't water requirements be less?
Provided it defoliated due to drought , will it leaf out again this year ?

Sorry for all the questions , I just don't want to loose this tree.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 4:03AM
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Layne_Uyeno(So. Cal.)

Hi Laura,

Maples in general have delicate leaves that can burn with the summer heat, drying winds, over fertilization, over or underwatering, and salt buildup in the soil. Sometimes even when you do everything properly you will still get leaf burn. Usually though the second flush of leaves are much hardier. Such is the case with my red seedling. The leaves seem tougher this year than I remember last year. It's certainly getting more sun in its new location than last year and it hasn't burned yet.

The maples with dissected leaves with the long, thin lobes and double serrations tend to be more delicate than the amoenum and palmatum types and burn more easily.

In your case it seems like a combination of summer heat and underwatering. What were the temps like when you first planted a month ago? And what are the temps now? This will give you a good gauge as to watering frequency. I use local temps to *generally* gauge how often I need to water my potted maples. For instance, in the winter when temps are in the low 60s once every seven days is sufficient. Upper 60s I may step it up to every 5-6 days, lower 70s every 4-6 days, upper 70s every 3-4 days, lower 80s every 2-3 days, upper 80s to lower 90s every other day. When the temps at my new place reach the upper 90s and lower 100s I may need to water every day or perhaps even twice a day on some of the potted maples.

I would say since it is getting hotter best to stick with twice a week waterings unless the soil is too wet. You're right in that the tree needs less water as there are no leaves to transpire moisture. But remember that even though the tree has no leaves it still has roots that need to stay sufficiently moist and still supply nutrients to the branches and buds.

Don't fertilize at this point. I'd recommend applying kelp extract as a soil soak according to the package label directions till fall sets in in your area. Don't worry if the tree doesn't put out new leaves for the remainder of the year. As long as the branches and buds are okay. Then, next spring when the temps starts to rise after the last frost and before bud break start applying a low nitrogen fertilizer with numbers like 1-5-5 along with the kelp extract according to the directions for a soil soak.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 12:31AM
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I have a number of Japanese maples - this morning I took a workshop at a local nursery. He said that they can get stressed and lose their leaves, but just remove the dead leaves and they will grow back. A newly transplated tree could benefit from judicious use of a transplant solution. He also said it takes about 2 years for the tree to get fully established, but once established, they are very sturdy trees.
I'd remove the dead leaves - it's probably just suffering from transplant shock.
good luck - they are wonderful trees.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 9:13PM
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How long is the transplant shock for JM laceleaf....weeks or months. Mine has lost all leaves.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 9:52PM
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I think the tree in the backyard is a Japanese Maple, though I have yet to see its leaves. There appears to be a fungus on the bark and the tree appears to have at least on major branch that is dead. Any suggestions would help.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 8:54PM
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