Autumn blaze maple leaves prematurely changing

stl_aerJuly 12, 2007

I left town for 10 days and gave my neighbor specific instructions to soak my newly planted Aut. Bl. Maple every 3 or 4 days if we get no rain which she happily agreed to do. When we came home some of the tree's leaves were turning maroonish-red. It has been three days since our return and we have soaked the tree a couple of times (our soil is sandy so I don't think we can over water) but it's getting worse in terms of leaves changing. Will this tree likely recover from this stress? I plan to wait until next spring to see if it recovers but the waiting is going to drive me over the edge. I am heartbroken about this tree and not too happy with my neighbor.

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Look at the base of the tree and see if it is swelled at the graft.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 4:37PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Make certain the water is going directly to the original rootball.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 5:01PM
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I'm a JM newbie and don't have much to say except that I thought my Osakazuki was changing color too soon, so I looked around at various gardens and found that mine matched the others for color - so what I am saying is: Are you sure it is premature.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 9:45PM
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Devorah, Autumn Blaze is not a Japanese maple.

I worked at a nursery several years ago as the farm manager. When I started working there were already about 90 acres planted of many types of trees. We had a several hundred Autumn Blaze and a few thousand of other cultivars of Acer rubrum and Acer saccharum. Trees of Acer rubrum and Acer saccharum that have been asexually propagated by budding or grafting can develop a problem known as graft incompatibility. When one of those 2 species has graft incompatibility the leaves will change to their fall color in the middle of the growing season. The graft union most of the time will swell and most of the time will break at that union. At that nursery that I was working at we would lose at least a few hundred trees a year to this problem. These size of the trees with this problem ranged 1 1/2" to 5" caliper.


Here is a link that might be useful: Graft Incompatibility

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 8:32AM
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There doesn't appear to be any swelling at the graft. I'm suspecting my neighbor didn't water the tree and wondering if it can recover from a week without water (or very little water). My soil is sandy, we planted it about 4-6 weeks ago and the leaves are changing all up and down the tree. The leaves near the trunk started first then it moved out to the branches. When it was planted I notice some of the lower leaves were slightly turning but during the time it was planted and the time we left for vacation no other leaves had turned color.

Thanks for the link. Amazing pictures, I didn't know such a thing existed.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 3:45PM
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Nervous, thank you for the info. and link. That will give me something new to watch for. I just assumed Autumn Blaze was a JM because that seems to be the dominant focus of attention on this forum. I should never assume - or rarely anyway.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 7:35PM
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Hi...I live in Michigan, and planted an ABM last July in the back yard (the leaves were dark green). Two days later they turned color, and then within a week completely red. The leaves stayed this red color for the next 3 months without one leaf drop. This spring the tree grew as normal and the leaves are still green here in July.

I planted another "green leafed" ABM in the front yard this past spring and guess what just happened in the past week...the leaves are turning red just like the one in the back did last year.

I find myself looking around in the area at other ABM's and many are also turning red here in July.

I called the Nursery and they said as long as the leaves don't are ok. Any stress to ABM's will cause premature leaf color. Last year it was transplant shock, and this year has been the lack of rain in Michigan. The one in the back has not changed this year because I planted it in a wet area.

Hope this helps...Brent

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 9:14AM
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Immediately spread a layer of compost over the area the canopy of the tree covers. Add a 2-3" layer of woodchips over the compost. Water in.

If you can't put wood chips over the entire canopy area at least put a layer of wood chips 3' to 4' wide, keeping the woodchips 6 inches away from the trunk.


Also, you might want to stick your finger in the ground before you water. If it is damp 2-3" down don't water.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 1:10PM
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Thanks for all of the great responses. I called the nursery this morning and they said it was transplant shock and not unusual. They told me to keep watering and if it doesn't look right next spring give them a call.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 6:42PM
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mehearty(So ME z5a)

I also wanted to tell you that we had an incredibly dry spring here, and I've noticed well established trees in the woods surrounding my house starting to turn fall colors (except they never look that good in fall! lol).

I had a celebration maple start to turn a beautiful red it's first season in the ground, 3 or 4 months after planting. It turned out fine but unfortunately it never gets that color in autumn.

Best of luck!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 10:58PM
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