Can my Japanese Maple be saved

nhwhazup12June 9, 2012

Last year I bought two good sized Japanese Maples from a reputable perennials dealer. One is a red 4 foot high round shaped with bright red leaves in the spring to more typical red right now. That tree is down by the road and totally exposed to lots of light, wind and possible salt spray from plowing in the winter. Up by the house I have a 6 foot Autumn Moon that is fairly protected and gets afternoon sun. Last fall when we had the Halloween snow storm, I was out in the snow a couple of times wiping off the snow to avoid branch breakage. Unfortunately as I was brushing off the snow, I ended up breaking a couple of main branches on the red maple.

So anyway, my story goes - both trees weathered their first year great and looked fine going into the winter. In the spring both had new buds everywhere. The red one leafed out just great and is doing fine. My Autumn Moon leafed out on the bottom branch and then nothing further. I was about crazy and called my vendor and she basically said to wait longer that it just might be delayed due to the weird weather this spring. She also wasn't a lot of help and wasn't going to replace the tree but would sell me another at her cost. I waited and still nothing. As I wasn't going to get a replacement and couldn't see purchasing another if it wouldn't make it (would be like throwing good money after bad), I went to pruning off the non- proliferic branches. So, I trimmed it, well really butchered it back. After a couple of weeks, I am seeing a ton of new growth and leaves coming out from all branches left. Not a ton of leaves, but new growth and new sprouts. I am determined to keep this tree alive and nurse it back to the beautiful tree that I originally purchased.

Any tips to help it along? Will it survive without a full head of leaves? Will next spring really be the test to determine if it will survive? This tree is my baby and one of the prettiest trees that I've seen when it was fully leafed out. The leaves are bright orange/pink in the spring and change to a more pinky green in the summer. I really have to save it if possible and welcome any tips to help it through my butchering attack.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's what it currently looks like.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 8:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's what it looked like last summer.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 8:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Have you got the mulch too high up on the trunk?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 2:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The mulch has been kept away from the trunk. I was instructed about keeping the mulch back when I bought it. What is the reason for keeping the mulch back?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 3:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tree_oracle(z6b MA)

The mulch level is fine. However if that area does not drain well then the tree will die. Japanese maples hate wet feet. The tree is obviously unhappy about something. It's probably the moisture level. It's either too wet or too dry in that area. That's a rather finicky variety so it may just be going through transplant shock, too. It's going into survival mode and throwing out a lot of new growth around the main trunk. Just make sure the ground in that area is moist but not overly wet or dry and wait and see what happens. If it's just transplant shock then it will fill out again in another year or two and you can prune it into a form that you like.

Did this tree come ball and burlapped or was it in a pot?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 7:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The tree is planted in pretty well draining soil being in front of the foundation. I'm a novice for sure but if I had to venture a guess I would say it didn't get enough water back in March when the buds were starting to engorge. We had an extremely dry March and April here in NH and I didn't water it. Being that initially it only had one bottom branch that leafed out I'm thinking that's the only branch that could pull enough moisture to fully leaf out. The other branches did nothing and by middle of May dropped their buds and were dying. So then I hacked away.

I know the poor tree looks pitiful now but I really hope it just survives and like you mentioned, i can trim it every year to get it back to a more happy shape. Even with the crazy mild winter and lack of early spring rain, everything and I mean everything else in my garden has done incredible this year with no special treatment. I have a couple of hostas that are at least 4 feet across when usual for them is 2.5 to 3 feet.

I will be careful to keep the moisture even and keep my fingers crossed.

So do you think that the few leaves it has put out will be enough for it to survive?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 5:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Sure, it has plenty of leaves of it. Don't do any pruning for at least a couple of years maybe longer while it fills out again. This is a slow growing tree. It may take a while to fill out. Was the tree in a pot before you planted it or was it ball and burlapped?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 6:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It was in a crate. Had to take off the metal container strips and break the wood away from it. This was a pretty big tree and my husband and I had all we could do to get it off the truck. We followed the planting directions from the dealer.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 6:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tree_oracle(z6b MA)

I still don't understand the way this tree was packaged. So there was a root ball inside of a crate?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 9:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sure is lovely foliage. I understand why you want to hang onto it.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 12:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


See the attachment that shows both of the actual Japanese Maples I bought last year. The red is center and the autumn moon is on the right. The photo was taken at the dealer to show my husband the trees I was looking to purchase. You can see the crating in the photo.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 1:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
molie(z6 CT)

I couldn't tell exactly from your photo --- is the tree planted on a 'berm', that is is the level of the land on which your tree is planted raised up or is it planted at ground level? I ask because our 'Crimson Queen' has done well for 7 years. We planted in a raised bed, actually on the highest point of the berm.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 3:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Although I've seen Japanese maples in crates, I've never actually purchased on that way. Is there a pot within the crate or is it just soil (i. e. is the crate the pot)?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 12:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The wooden crate was indeed the "pot". Once we took off the metal around the top and bottom and pulled the wood off, we had the root ball and quite a bit of soil.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 5:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

When planting my Autumn Moon, I chose a site that protected it from afternoon sun. I read somewhere (probably the Broken Arrow website) that this was the proper siting for this tree.

At this point I would only prune dead wood off of your plant. Make sure the area drains well enough and then give it a deep watering from a drip hose once or twice a week depending on the weather. If you are planning on moving it, do it in early Fall. It sounds like you have a lot of work and money invested in this tree. You might want to consult an arborist for either a consultation or to solve the problem.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 6:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I live in South Africa, with a temperature of between 61 - 93 Fahrenheit, or between 16 - 33 Celsius for summer. For winter 28 - 72 Fahrenheit, or between -2 - 22 Celsius.

This is the second time that I've lost a Japanese Maple the first lack of light or to much water. This time around I planted in a spot that received sun between 11 and 3 o'clock and rest of the day shaded.

It began to loose its leaves showing the typical water droplet on leaves burns that has been described on the forums. I addressed the watering from the sprinklers. Later it actively created new leaves, whereas other leaves were scorched basically green/brownish.

As discussed before the tree was most-likely under extreme stress and needed saving. Unfortunately I best thought to replant the tree since it was not located in a pot. So I left it in my room with plenty of light then went away a few days. I left instructions for it to be watered twice a week if the soil is dry.

Now I came back last night. I found no new sprouting leaves and the trunk is black with some green spots (original bark I presume). I was told the tree was covered with a white pest of some kind, and was thus cleaned with soap water.

First question: Is the tree dead?
Second: any general suggestions regarding the climate. Since the general solutions posted relates to 1)ensuring that the cultivar can cope with the climate and 2) planting it in positions that gets morning or later afternoon sun, thus filtered sun during noon.

The Idea of the cultivar is lovely, I'd like to have some of those trees in the back yard. Provided I can get it growing.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 7:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Yes, the tree is dead. A black trunk is never good. Also, you should never bring a Japanese maple inside. It is an outside tree and will not survive inside.

I would look for some Japanese maples that are known to do well in the Southeastern US where it can be quite hot and humid in the summer. Plus, the soil there is clay and does not drain well. The cultivars that you should look at have leaves that are not as dissected. Glowing Embers, Emperor One, and Bloodgood should do fine. Osakazuki is a nice green selection that has fiery red fall color. Sango Kaku is known to do well in the South, too if you want a cultivar with leaves that are more yellow.

Your tree should be in the shade when the sun is at its highest around 11-3 pm and should be in sun the rest of the day. That's the complete opposite of the sun exposure that your tree had. The soil should not be dry but it should also not be overly wet.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'd like to try again with more heat resistant cultivars as suggested here and before.

There is a few spots that I've in mind. One is on the North-side of the house thus will get shade from the house during winter, bad idea? There is small evergreen tree on the one-side and delicious tree on the other. I've tried to keep an eye out during the 11-3 hour period, it varies between full shade, less and full sun (summer). We do not have clay ground regardless I will follow the guide provided. The spot is a problem for gardening it is very dry despite a sprinkler, lots of leaves in the bedding killing off most smaller plants. Recently I've started to introduce shrubs that seems to do well enough.

The other spot gets more sun pending on its placement. It is on the western side. It will get early morning shade, some full sun till just before noon, then is under a canopy of a much larger tree for the rest of the afternoon. Then again some sun just before sun set. The soil is high compost mix usually used for seedlings.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 1:10PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
unheated greenhouse
Hi All!!! I live in Central Mass., my wonderful kids...
No spray cherry, apple, and pear tree recommendations?
I have larger area of my yard, where at some point...
Starting PEAS
A few of my beds have thawed enough that I can work...
Landscape Design Council Awards at Boston Flower & Garden Show
I received a press release from Frances Wheeler regarding...
Open Gardens for 2015
I got a brochure in the mail from the Garden Conservancy...
Sponsored Products
Series 7042 Habanero White Sconce
$148.50 | Bellacor
Prichard modern sectional sofa
Interior Define
Kichler Madison Black Outdoor Wall 1-Light
$62.00 | PLFixtures
Welles Bench - Cordova Eclipse Gray
Joybird Furniture
Step Glass Track Head by Juno
$52.80 | Lumens
Yellow & Black Zica Table
$209.99 | zulily
White Accent Lamp: Living Colors Mini 5-5/8 in. White LED Lamp 691503148
$70.00 | Home Depot
Winslow White 6-drawer Lingerie Chest
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™