Japanese Maple, brown curled leaf tips

ngomong(zone 6, PA)October 5, 2005

Hi all,

I just bought my first home (hooray!), and there is a young (7 ft) Japanese Maple in the front yard. (At least, that's what the old homeowners told me it was.)

I just noticed today that the tips of the lower leaves are brown and starting to curl. Any ideas on what this could be?

From my experience with indoor plants, burnt tips are usually the result of over-fertilization. Could that be the case here? I have no idea when the tree was planted, or how often it was fed.

Any thoughts? Thanks!

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paul3636(6a Ma.)

I'm having a similar problem with a red pygmy JNmaple only it's the upper leaves that are drying up and curling. It was fertilized 2x with a fish emulsion and in early August with a slow release organic fertilizer. Information would help us avoid the problem next year.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 11:06PM
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Japanese maples are prone to fungus problems that cause such effects. Part of the plant curling up while the rest isn't doing so is a definite red flag. The most mentioned source of difficulty is verticillium wilt fungus, but it is not the only cause.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 12:25AM
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paul3636(6a Ma.)

Is the fungus a series problem or something that will go away with the 1st frost?
Is there an organic way to get rid of the fungus and if not what is recommended to control or get rid of it?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 8:08AM
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donalda2(z5 MI)

I have had the same problem and live in the midwest. I would like to know what kind of ferterlizer to use and also should I treat the fungus problem if when when to do both.
thanks donna

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 7:10AM
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I just came to ask the same question.. I purchased 2 Japenese Maples that I purchased 2 years ago, and are in different areas of my yard. They have done well up until now. Last couple of weeks I have noticed that both trees have drying and curled up leaves.. I would be curious to know what might be causing this also and if there is anything that can be done treat them. Will the trees survive?
Thanks for any info

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 1:33PM
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jhawk333(5b KS)

Same problem with a weeping, green, dissected JM planted in a wind-protected, sunny 4-7 hrs/day site. My curling tips actually progressed to shedding of the curled leaves from the topmost tips while all lower leaves/branches show little or no curling and remain on the tree (and turning a beautiful red.)

As a new transplant this season, wondering if stress my be contributing in my case.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 1:00PM
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Have same problem but on all leaves. Wondering what watering schedule to follow in Oklahoma. Could curled tips be over/under watering?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 2:11PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

You don't know hpw the previous owner took care of your tree.

Possible COMMON causes of browning tips include the following; take your pick.
-- Underwatering.
-- Short of water.
-- Underdeveloped root system.
-- Droughty soil.
-- Excessive wind.
-- Low humidity.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 1:08AM
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I had the exact same problem with a 5 gal Japanese Maple that was planted about 8 weeks ago. I searched the internet frantically, and was about to apply an anti fungal since the symptoms are very close to a known fungal disease. Then sense got the better of me. The symptoms were almost uniformly isolated to the leaf tips, and the new under developed leafs were curling under. Just like the body shuts down circulation to your extermities first during frost bite, the plant browns out the leaf tips when it's short on water. It will also retard the growth of new growth since these aren't mature enough to help the plant survive. I watered deeply and the plant sprang back in less than 48 hours. The brown spots remain, but the new growth leaves sprang back and more shoots await! I didn't realise how much water this tree requires. I have read they are susceptible to fungus so I've tended to keep it on the dry side. I realise that wasn't right. I think I'll get a moisture metre to help.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 8:43PM
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the leaves of my maple are the same as above. is this a fungus?what can i do? the upper leaves are dry. it looked so healthy until now. tohot of weather or to dry. i have not fertilized this year. thanks darlene long

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 9:16PM
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I am having same problem. I hope I did not over fertilize. If so, will the plant recuperate? Any suggestions will be welcomed.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 6:34PM
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Browning or curling leaf tips are rarely a sign of fungal infection. Usually the only thing fungal this time of year would cause spotting on the leaves, or a powdery look (powdery mildew). A good anti-fungal like Safer products should take care of anything like that.

Usually the tip browning is because of stress. This can be under-watering, over-watering, too much sun, too much heat in general, or hot dry winds. Just use common sense with your plants and they should be fine. A little leaf tip damage is not going to harm them. If all the leaves dry up and fall off, that can be more serious, but even then they can recover fully - they have an extra set of leaves they can push out. However, if they use the second set of leaves and they get stressed again during this season, the plant will die. So its better not to let them get too stressed.

Remember, Japanese Maples are not full sun plants normally speaking. If you have them in full sun it may just be too hot for them. Most of them do best with morning sun and afternoon shade. Even in hot, muggy climates like mine they thrive with morning sun, afternoon shade. Also be sure they are planted in good soil. They hate clay, and will quickly decline if planted in a poorly drained location. I plant all my JMs in raised beds with good top soil. I mulch well and have an inexpensive irrigation system that comes once every 4 days and gives them a good drink. In this heat they can quickly dry out, so I prefer some automation to help me keep on top of the watering chores.

Good luck with your trees - I'm sure they'll do fine with a little TLC.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 4:06PM
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I don't know what the weather was like this spring for you but here in NH we had two very hot spring days just as the Japanese Maple leaves were young. Many of the Japanese Maples around here suffered the same leaf burn from this.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 11:00PM
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Wow that was irrelevant. I don't know why this thread was dug up from 06?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 11:03PM
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I think problem with the leaves may the weather pattern this year. I am in PA too and have noticed similar problems on Jap maples as well as some other trees. We had some wicked weather in the spring with a lot of rain and several episodes of nearly tornado strength winds. I noticed I lot of trees were just pushing out new growth at the time which can be damaged by the force of winds we had. Then, the spring rains just stopped and now it is dry as can be. I have a bunch of well established and new plants that got hit hard this fall and am just chalking it up to the weather this year.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 11:19PM
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I have had my Japanese Maple for about 5 years and never any problems till this year. I have watered good. Also been giving it some coffee grounds.No fertilization ever since I planted it, so it can't be fertilizer. I am afraid it's not going to make it. I am going to try some anti-fungal as I don't know what else to do.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 9:51AM
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