Why did my crimson queen die???

prcrawfordJune 23, 2010

I bought and planted a Japanese Maple last fall (2009). I was mulched and watered all winter. I brew beer so every time I brewed i watered the plant heavily every few weeks in winter. Its also near the down spout of the gutter so it got water every time the snow melted.

This spring it started to leaf out. About 1/2 of the leaves came out and the buds on the other half did not. All of a sudden the leaves dried out and are turning brown. The other 1/2 of the leaves never budded. The root stock of the plant started to crack and the plant is now is sad shape. The garden store (city floral) has no idea what happened and just asked basic questions about watering and mulching. So help? What happened to this tree. I was wondering if the root graft didn't take or something. I attached some pictures:


Thanks for your help!

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p.s. this tree is on the west side of my house but in good shade as shown in the picture. What kind of tree is that anyway?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 1:24PM
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Dan Staley

Hard to say for sure with info provided, but I suggest the combination of wet feet from downspout, planting in fall with an early frost not allowing plant to harden off, and competition with the honey locust ensured the poor thing was doomed from the start.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 6:10AM
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treebarb Z5 Denver

I'm sorry about your crimson queen. I agree with Dan, sounds like it got way too much moisture. You can sometimes get away with a fall planting, but not last fall. Even established plants had a rough go since we had early hard freezes.
I planted a bloodgood JM last fall as well, the entire top of the tree died. I trimmed it up this spring and it grew side shoots. It was looking great a week ago when I left for vacation in the gulf. I came back to find the septic maintenance guy had run it over with his truck. Sigh. The trunk was flexible enough not to snap but most of the branches got ground off.
What say we try again next spring?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 8:37AM
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singcharlene(Zone 5)

I have a little red Japanese Maple that I planted last fall too. It's on the East side of my house tucked in a corner very sheltered by the garage wall and the house. It's by a downspout and I didn't water at all this winter. Only the bottom half came back but it still looks good. I just pruned the dead branches off the top and it's shorter ha.
I also planted two large trees (last spring) one Red Maple and a Red Oak. They were expensive and we had them installed by a pro and they didn't come back at all :(.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2010 at 5:07PM
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Thanks for the follow up. I want to try again but nervous to spend another 100+ dollars and have it die with no guarantee. Oh well... Does anyone know where I can get a little one for cheap and take a smaller risk?


    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 9:26AM
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Dan Staley

You can try again, but if the same spp. in the same place and in the same way, expect the same outcome.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 12:01PM
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I guess the only thing I would do differently would be to plant in the summer not the fall. Hopefully giving the plant time to harden before fall. But maybe I'll just find another nice small ornamental tree that likes shade..

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 1:42PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi PR,

Ive never tried to grow a Japanese maple, but if youÂre thinking of trying again, IÂm gonna chime in here!

First of all IÂm going to agree with Dan and TreeBarb that it sounds to me like it got WAY too much water after it was planted and over winter. When plants are dormant over winter, they use very, very little water, so itÂs quite possible the roots were starting to rot even before it came out of dormancy this spring. As long as the soil stays damp when the plants are dormant, theyÂll be fine. So if you decide to try again, I recommend watering it in very well when you plant it and then donÂt water again until the soil, down near the bottom of the original root ball, is starting to dry out. I wouldnÂt do any supplemental watering at all over winter, and if weÂre getting much snow/rain, IÂd divert the down spout water away from it. When itÂs actively growing, water only when the soil is drying--and then water slowly and very thoroughly. People loose way, way more plants (of all types) from overwatering than they do from underwatering. If somethingÂs underwatered, itÂll look pretty sad, but wonÂt usually die. If somethingÂs overwatered, the roots rot and it dies! So, if in doubt, donÂt water!

It looks like itÂs in a pretty protected corner, but IÂm wondering, since itÂs on the west side, if it might not be getting too much heat, even if itÂs shaded from the sun. And the tree you asked about thatÂs shading it looks like a honey locust to me.

PaulinoÂs carries them, but I donÂt know what sizes or what the prices areÂor even if they have any left this year, so you might want to call to check it out. Also, if you go to PaulinoÂs to look at them, go in to the front desk and ask John Smith (Yeah, really!) who the best/most knowledgeable person would be in the nursery to ask about them and then go looking for him/her (John can call them on the radio to tell them youÂre looking for them!) John is pretty good with most of the stock too, and can answer some of your questions, but if they have a good nursery person right now, they can probably tell you more. Tell John, Dee sent youÂno, I donÂt get a kickback!

But if you want the really, really best info here in Denver about growing them, go to Timberline Gardens on the west side of town and ask for Kelly GrummonsÂtell him Dee sent you! Tell him exactly what you did in your original post here about when and where it was planted and how often it was watered and ask him what to do if youÂre gonna try again. If Kelly canÂt help you, nobody can. I donÂt know if he carries them or not. He may not since theyÂre generally considered pretty hard to successfully grow in our dry climate, but even if he doesnÂt sell them, he can give you the best advice for trying to get one going. And he would also be great for recommending something else cool to try if you decide to go that way. If you go there and if youÂre at all interested in perennials, Kelly has far and away the most comprehensive selection of perennials in the Denver area.

Good luck, and let us know what you decide to do and how itÂs working out for you.

Welcome to RMG!


    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 2:47PM
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Dan Staley

You are going to kill another tree if you are going to do the same thing again. . If you continue to fail to meet the needs of the plant in that spot, you will continue to fail to keep plants alive there. Seedling JMs are much cheaper than grafted cultivars.

The needs of JMs in that spot means you need a mound in that spot. You need to water less. You need to plant a JM in spring. Good luck.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 3:17PM
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