June 13, 2013
Q. I think my Japanese maple is dying.
The height of the tree is approximately four metres and it started out with deep purple palm-shaped leaves. In the beginning of spring, when new leaves came out, some of the tips of the branches did not produce any leaves. After May, I noticed leaves started to dry and fall off. Now it looks like all the leaves are drying out. I think the tree is dying. I tried watering and feeding the tree some Miracle-Gro to revive it, but there is no change in its condition. Please advise how I can save this tree. Brampton, Ont.

A. Japanese maples have several growing conditions, which should be met in order for them to grow well.
They require moist, well-drained soil high in organic matter, and protection from sweeping winds and late spring frosts. Dappled shade is ideal for these trees, as too much sun can scorch the leaves. The young foliage is highly sensitive to cold, and if leaves come out early, growth can be lost due to frost. In the case of your tree, perhaps the leaves were affected by frost, which may have cause them to dry and drop off. Very often you can lose a year's growth when this happens, but very rarely is there a loss of the tree. Your tree may also be in too much bright light, and this would also dry-out the leaves. Continue providing supplemental moisture to your tree and if you have not already done so, mulch could be placed around it, which would help to conserve water. In the fall, before the onset of winter, give your tree plenty of water to prepare it for the months ahead. I hope that this information is of help to you, and that you will enjoy the beauty of your Japanese maple for many years.

June Streadwick,
Zone 5 director
Master Gardeners of Ontario.

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