Why would I Write a Blog Posting about Ruining a Japanese Maple?
Because people do it all the time unintentionally. Here’s the deal; “You only know what you know.” That includes me.
So my job here is to make sure that all of my followers/subscribers learn things that I know and they may not.
Contrary to what many people think Japanese maples are actually quite easy to grow and care for. They can be expensive and they grow slowly, but all in all, they are pretty easy guests to have around the house.
And pretty too! And if you know a few simple things about Japanese maples in general, you’ll know how to keep them looking fantastic and running at full speed.
The things you need to know about Japanese maple trees.
Most, but not all, Japanese Maples are Grafted.
That means that the beautiful tree that you are enjoying in your yard is actually growing on the roots of a more generic but extremely hardy Japanese maple.
You need to know that because often times suckers grow from the rootstock and those suckers need to be removed as soon as they appear because they are very different from the plant you bought.
If you allow them to grow they will overtake your beautiful plant and completely ruin its appearance.
One Finger Pruning.
The best way to remove suckers and low branches that you don’t want on your Japanese maple is a technique that I call “One Finger Pruning” and you really do only use one finger and it is extremely effective. To learn more about “One Finger Pruning Click Here”.
How to make up to $93.60 in One Square Foot
Growing and Selling Small Plants in Your Backyard.
Quietly and but Profitably.
Garden Fertilizer Kills Japanese Maples and other Plants.
It’s true. The typical garden fertilizer that you buy for your veggie garden will take out ornamental plants like nobody’s business.
If you plant to use regular garden fertilizer on your Japanese maple you might as well write “Serial Killer” on the bag.
Why? Fertilizer is supposed to be a good thing, why would it kill my plants?
Garden fertilizers are designed to be immediate release. A bag of 14-14-14 garden fertilizer contains 14% Nitrogen, 14% Phosphorous and 14% potassium.
And as soon as you apply it and it gets wet, bam! All 14% of that nitrogen is released immediately.
Nitrogen drives top growth, vegetative growth, on plants. Most ornamental plants physically cannot grow fast enough to use that much nitrogen and the overload of nitrogen will kill them almost immediately.
What Should I Use to Fertilize My Japanese Maple?
What a Japanese maple really needs is good rich soil that contains a significant amount of organic matter. Really good topsoil is just that, organic matter.
That’s what made it topsoil. For years and years vegetation falls to the earth and rots and becomes topsoil. That’s what all plants, especially Japanese maples need.
But not all of us have good soil in our yards so what do we do. Fertilizer with something organic like fish emulsion fertilizer, Millorganite, or another organic fertilizer.
Keep in mind, Millorganite is good for your ornamental plants but not your vegetable garden because it’s made from sewage sludge.
When installing new plants, especially Japanese maples, mix some rotted (bagged) cow manure with the soil as you back fill around the plants.
Please don’t Bury Me Alive!
A little dramatic I know, but I did that because I want you to know how serious of a problem this is.
Like me and you, plants breath through their roots and they need to be able to transfer oxygen through the soil to the root system.
That’s why it’s really important that you never install a plant too deep in the ground.
The top of the root ball should be about 1″ above the grade of the planting bed then mound about an inch of soil over that and about 2″ of mulch over that.
That allows the plant to breathe. If you put something in the ground too deep, there’s a really good chance that it will die.
Click here to learn how to dig and properly transplant a Japanese maple.
Japanese Maples Don’t Like Wet Feet!
Water is good, right? But too much water is not good. Like you and I, plants need some water to survive, but water is not a magic potion that will make them grow to the moon fast.
Too much water, wet heavy soil, standing water will absolutely kill almost any ornamental plant. But this is really, really true for things like Japanese maples and Rhododendrons.
These two animals like it high and on the dry side. Not bone dry, but definitely not sopping wet. When the ground is too wet the roots cannot breathe. Remember, they need oxygen.
The soil should be moist and cool to the touch, not soggy. If you want, you can buy a moisture meter at the garden store.
Japanese Maples Need to Be Loved and Admired.
They really do. Think about it. These beautiful plants did not accidentally fall into the hands of a capable plant propagator without reason.
They were meant to be cloned and shared to beautify the planet. So don’t over care for them. Just give them what they need and admire them.
That’s what I do! I stare at mine admiring their beauty and the intricacy of their design for hours on end.
Help! We have a Shortage of Beautiful Japanese Maples. You should be the Person making Sure the People Who Live Near You can Buy these Beautiful Plants at a Fair Price!
How to make up to $93.60 in One Square Foot
Growing and Selling Small Plants in Your Backyard.
Quietly and but Profitably.
Questions? Comments? Speak your mind below!
I think I managed to kill my J maple which is just in a pot on my open air balcony but has been living fairly happily for about 4 years. . It had all this lovely leaf growth and I thought it was fine just with the odd bit of rain, and then some dry windy days. Turned the leaves prematurely golden then I noticed they were crunchy and dead and I realised most of the branches had also become dry and brittle, I cut off all the dead branches with no stumps but that leaves basically just a trunk. Towards the roots there seems to be a touch of green but how will it survive with no buds or leaves? Should I wrap the trunk in a damp cloth to stop it continuing to dry out?
Four years in the same pot it could be root bound which really prevents the roots from taking up water when it is available. Needs re-potting and the roots need to be disturbed, possibly some of the cut.
I’ve had a Japanese maple in a container for many years. We got a freak spring storm that froze the budding new leaves. After waiting to see if it would recover, seems the whole top has died. About 8 inches from the soil, new growth started again. Any advice on starting a new leader for the top of the tree?
Not really, might consider allowing it to be multi stemmed. That’s probably what I’d do.
Kimberly K Epp says
I have a question about my maple tree.
It’s about 10 feet and very mature it’s been here since we bought our home 25 years ago.
My husband dug a three-foot deep hole 3ft from my maple tree to find a plumbing pipe underground.
Will that kill my tree? The largest root diameter was about 2.5 inches.
I am worried. He hacked several other roots as well.
We are going to put the dirt back in the hole tomorrow, but I am wondering what I need to add to the soil.
If he only dug on one side of the tree it should be fine. Don’t add anything to the soil, just back fill the hole as soon as possible.
I live in Texas , zone 8, and I would like to add a dwarf Japanese maple to my front landscaping that is west facing. Can you give me some guidance on a variety ? I would also like to keep it in a pot .
Just make sure the pot is large enough. See this https://japanesemaplelovers.com/growing-japanese-maples-in-hot-climates/
Paul Wu says
Hi. I just transferred a healthy Japanese maple osakazuki from 20in pot to the ground during autumn and the leaves are browning (and curling) instead of turning red.. within a month. The spot receives morning till prob 3pm of sun in autumn. The soil is relatively compacted, but I dig 2in wider and deeper. Also I may have overfertilize the soil upon planting – including with osmocote and garden fertilize. 😭… What signs should I look out for to pin point the problem? How should I rescue it (make things better) since it’s only a month of stress? Please help my maples. 😔
I’m guessing it was the garden fertilizer. I guess get it out of the hole, rinse the roots and replant.
My 11 yr old red Japanese Maple is covered in cement dust from Groundworks. There is no rain forecast for a while. Will it be ok?
If you can’t hose it off it should still be fine.
Thankyou so much. There’s now rain forecast this afternoon so all should be well
I planted two dwarf ‘Shaina’ Japanese maples in our central Ohio front yard about 22 years ago. They were both planted in full sun.
One of them had quite a bit of dieback and I pruned out the dead branches. It looked good, but died after the following winter (about 1-2 years ago)..
The second one has had some lichen growing on it, and occasionally some powdery mildew. It also seemed to be slowly declining. I noticed this spring that only one limb has leafed out.
Is 20 years the limit for a dwarf Japanese maple in full sun? Can I replace it with another dwarf Japanese maple?
Full sun is really hard on certain Japanese maple varieties. You can replace it with another variety that will take the sun better like Bloodgood or Emperor 1.
Our 13 year old Japanese maple tree was flooded at least 2 days in a 3 day span at the end of last summer. (Likely with high amounts of grass fertilizer in the water.) It was thriving and doing great since we planted it in the ground 4 years ago. After it was flooded, the leaves curled up and fell off in the fall a month or 2 later. This spring, it is not looking good at all as it has leafed out. The bottom doesn’t seem to have any new growth, and the top half just isn’t the usual vibrant red. What can we do to fix this asap? It was a gift to us when we lost an infant daughter.
The flooding and maybe constant wet soil is probably the issue. You can raise the tree, but not if it’s leafed out. Keep an eye on it and as long as it survives the summer you can raise it around Thanksgiving if need be.
I saw 2 tiny beautiful red leafed baby trees getting ready to be run over by a lawn mower so I quickly pulled them up (with permission of course) took them home and planted them in pots. They quickly shot up and gave me beautiful dark red leaves, and pretty matching flowers. from what I can find they are some type of japanese maple. my question is, these two babies grew EXTREMLY fast straight up. the branches seem to be coming in after the fact. The branches are only about 4 inches long at this point. one of the trees is about 9 to 10 ft tall. the other is about 7 ft tall. they both are bent over. the bottom of the trunk on the taller one is almost as big around as a half dollar coin. I don’t think I should cut the top of the tree because that seems counterintuitive to healthy growth, but should I use a super long stake to help support the bent over top until it gets longer branches to help balance it out?
They don’t sound like Japanese maples. They grew too fast and have flowers. Possibly flowering plum. Stake them and you really need to clip the top to get them to fill out nicely.
Hi Mike, our Japanese Maple has white splotches on sections of leaves right now. We’ve lived here for 12 years and we’ve never seen this before. I’m not sure if there’s a way to send a pic to you or not, but curious if you’ve seen this/know what it could be?
Sounds like powedery mildew. It happens often when the humidity is really high. Just rake up the leaves as they fall and it should be fine in the spring.
Great. Thank you! It has definitely been a strangely warm/humid fall here so far, so that makes sense.
We have a 20 ft tall Japanese maple about 6 ft back from the side of our driveway. We had the driveway regraded for drainage and now need to build a retaining wall between the yard and the now lower driveway. Will cutting the roots back along the driveway to install the retaining wall damage the tree? And if not, what is the best time of year to do this to cause the least stress to the tree?
If you do this work when the tree is dormant, after Thanksgiving, it should be fine.
we have a small young japanese maple and a new german shepherd/belgian malinois puppy that likes peeling the bark from it. do you have any suggestions for protecting our beautiful little tree?
You have to fence it off.
Casey Brochu says
I recently got a young Trompenburg Japanese Maple, still in a pot, about 3 feet tall, base trunk only an inch or so in diameter, with a decent handful of leaves. I unfortunately left it in a place that got too much sun and it dried out all the leaves (by end of May) and burned the upper twigs/branches.
I read so many articles about what to do but nothing was as specific to my situation as I needed. I ultimately pruned away all the dead twigs and branches, checking the bark for where I should remove. is it alright that I did this? I’d seen it done amongst my reading, but I do believe it was an in-ground, slightly fuller tree (not much larger). just hoping it’ll regrow, I just figure I likely won’t get leaves for a while…
You did fine but that tree really needs to be in the ground where it will be the happiest.
I have a neighbor who poured lime on our maple tree and after two weeks it’s staying to lose many of its leafs. We did some research and found that lime will rob the tree of nutrients. My wife poured a mix of water and vinegar and we added Dr. Earth acid lovers organic fertilizer in hope to save the tree. Is there anything else we could do? Thank you for any advise you may have.
G, just be patient, the tree knows what it needs to do.
Katie R. says
My husband and I are well versed at killing trees. Our Japanese Maple victim count is up to two over here and I’m worried we’re nearing three.
We JUST planted a Bloodgood from Home Depot about 4 weeks back. Typical with HD, the root ball had a lot of clay packed into it. We did our best to pull away all the burlap to let the roots breathe. We picked a new spot (opposite side of the yard from where the previous two died as we knew those were due to overwatering and bad drainage). Made sure to plant slightly above the root ball, added fresh topsoil, and mulched.
Just today I noticed about 1/4 of the leaves on the tree are starting to shrivel up and get crunchy. Seems to be evenly distributed around the tree – not limited to one branch or side. Because of our previous experience, I have been hesitant to water too much. That being said, we’ve had somewhat frequent light rains. When I pull back the mulch, the soil is definitely moist but not soggy. The tree probably gets more than the ideal amount of sun but still overall receives majority shade throughout the day.
My husband is convinced we’ve underwatered due to our overwatering PTSD. We also wonder if because an evergreen bush lived there forever beforehand, that the soil is too acidic (is that even a thing with JMs?).
Any suggestions to revive or have we already lost it?
I think you are over managing the situation. I would not have disturbed the root ball. I would have planted it in tact, removing any nylon strings but leaving the burlap as long it was not poly. I would have back filled the hole with the soil that I took out. You did good planting it a bit high, but a freshly planted tree needs water. The soil you have should be fine, don’t be concerned about that.
I received a Japanese weeping maple at my son’s memorial last year. It was so pretty then so I left it in the container pot that it came in. I trimmed it back this year before spring and it started budding out and turning green but I think I overwatered it. All the leaves dried up and looked dead. Did I kill it or do you think it will come back? I have it outside on the back porch trying to revive it. It means so much to me as a reminder of my son. I need it to live. Please help!
If it’s alive, get it in the ground where plants are the happiest. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
I scratched the bark but it’s not real green bit is still hard. Does it still have a chance to live?
Oh dear….I’m devastated. Bought and planted a young red coral Japanese maple. I wasn’t thinking and planted it too deep! Saw the leaves become shriveled. Arborist came over and said I was suffocating the tree, to dig the soil around it and lift the tree up to proper planting depth. I did but it has not improved at all in the past week. Do I call it quits or hang in there. It seems like there are areas on some branches that have turned black. Is there anything can do????? Crying in Oregon.
If it’s now planted at the right depth just give it time. It has to make new buds. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
We’re from Toronto, Canada and planted a Fire Glow Japanese maple today in our front yard raised planter about 2 ft from the house. The nursery said they won’t grow too big, is this true?
Also how much should we water right after planting them? The nursery said we should water every day but online they say twice a week?
Water depends on the weather, in a planter probably two to three times a week but feel the soil. It should be cool and moist, not dry or sticky wet. Keep them trimmed if you want them smaller. I’m not crazy about them being in a raised planter. ???
Martin Hong says
Sorry raised planter isn’t the right word, I meant a raised planting bed – the tree is about 2 ft from the house, hopefully that won’t cause future problems as it shouldn’t grow too big? And for pruning, can we do that in the first year after we planted them?
You can prune anytime they need it, any time of the year. 24″ is pretty close to the house.
I have a Japanese Maple that is a couple feet from my house. I do not know what type it is but it is literally over 25ft tall. It is a beautiful tree which I trim occasionally but I am worried about it being too close to the foundation. I have had no issues in the past 20 years I have lived in my home but as this tree is getting really tall should I be concerned? I really would prefer to keep it but not at the expense of problems with the roots. Are Japanese Maple roots extensive and big enough to cause issues?
That’s really close to the house but I can’t really answer your question. It could be an issue if it’s that close.
Approximately how far from my fence should I plant my Sango Kaku Maple? (It is going in the corner of my fully fenced yard, where two fences meet). It is only about 5′ tall now. Thank you!
I’d say keep it about 7 to 8 feet from the fences to give it plenty of room in the future.
I live in Castro Valley, CA and recently planted an 8-foot tall Japanese maple in a raised planter box that runs along my fence. The dirt is about 3 feet deep and runs the length of our fence. I have a sprinkler system that keeps the other plants growing in there happy. The water runs for 4 minutes each day and briefly leaves standing water over the tree, though it does soak in. However I am very concerned that the tree is not getting a chance to rest between waterings. Am I over watering my maple tree?
As long as that water has a chance to drain away and not stand you should be fine. Make sure your tree is not too deep in the soil. The root ball should only have about an inch of soil over it then a thin layer of mulch.
Thank you so much for your response – I feel much better now about my sprinklers. Now I am worried about underwatering my tree (we lost a beloved birch recently from overwatering our new lawn so I am freaked about water and trees!!) Should I still water my Japanese maple deeply with a hose a couple times a week, or should the sprinklers be enough?
Thanks again, so much, Mike. I am grateful to have found you.
The sprinklers should be enough unless it’s really hot.
Hi, we purchased a red dragon maple tree just this March and it was inside a green house and it already has full foliage like it didn’t even went through dormant stage or where the leaves fell off during Winter. Idk? But yes, it has some green leaves on it but there are also some newly grown red leaves showing. The maple trees shouldn’t have any leaves supposedly for March still right? Should I be concerned? Please advice. Thanks
The leaves are green because the tree has been inside. They’ll turn red. But yes, you should be concerned if you are in a cold climate. That tree is going to be severely damaged if you get a heavy frost or worst yet a freeze. It really needs to be protected until you are out of danger of a freeze. Keep in mind, a blanket will prevent frost damage but only being inside will protect it from a hard freeze.
Thank you so much Mike. I really appreciate the response. Have a great week ahead!
Hello Mike! You mentioned about being careful with heavy frost and hard freezes, do you also have a recommendation on soil temperatures? When would be the ideal time to plant this red dragon?
When it come to planting, sooner is always better than latter. It’s far happier in the ground, no matter what the soil temperature than on top of the ground.
Thank you so much Mike! I’ll definitely take your advice!
Alana Gray says
I live in Castro Valley, CA and recently planted an 8-foot tall Japanese maple in a raised planter box that runs along my fence. The dirt is about 3 feet deep and runs the length of our fence. I have a sprinkler system that keeps the other plants growing in there happy. The water runs for 4 minutes each day and briefly leaves standing water over the tree, though it does soak in. However I am very concerned that the tree is not getting a chance to rest between waterings. Am I over watering my maple tree?
I purchased my 1st Red dragon tree yesterday. It is estimated to be 5 years old and was in a 3 gallon container. I had a professional landscaper plant it yesterday evening in a clay/sand foundation along with organic material provided by the nursery. She had started leaving out. Today the leaves are shriveled, wilted and hanging. I live in Augusta GA and the temps dropped last night into the 30’s. I did cover it with a large trash sack to help protect from frost. Have I permanently damaged my tree?? Please help. 😥
A heavy blanket would have offered more protection from a freeze. It sounds like it froze. It should come back but it’s going to take weeks.
Thank you for your response. I’ll keep my hopes up that I don’t severely cause damage to it.
6 year old, otherwise healthy bloodgood has leaves sprouting from the trunk. Should I be concerned?
No need for concern but those leaves will become branches. If you don’t want branches there just knock those leaves off with your finger now and the tree will be fine.
Hello, We had a hard freeze late last spring after the leaves were pretty filled out and the leaves burned badly and pretty much just hung on through the rest of the season. Now it is spring again and lots of the leaves are still brown on it. Lots of the branch tips turned grey and dead. I pruned most of those off already.
My local tree experts said to just let it recover on it’s own and not do anything.
Any other advice?
Johnny, I agree, just leave it be. But make sure it’s alive. What you describe is concerning 12 months after that freeze. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
It looks like my leaves have burned. It doesn’t appear to be eaten from bugs. Almost like the sun burned through. I haven’t sprayed it with anything but I did notice it after an intense couple days of rain.
I planted it about less than a month ago and have been pretty regular with watering – every two days. I did buy some spray just in case it was mites or Japanese beetles. But I really feel it isn’t bugs. What do you think?
Also, thanks for the help! And I have pictures if it may be easier.
Leaves that are crispy on the edges are usually from drying out, even riding in an open vehicle on the way home from the garden center. Or too much fertilizer.
Hello Mike. Our new Japanese maples (1 Emperor, 1 Bloodgood, 1 full Moon and 1 Orangeola) were all eaten by deer (despite applying deer deterrent during winter). We planted them early summer 2020 and they were doing well. The deer ate everything but the trunk on every tree. Is there any chance, you think, that they will regrow the branches – or what would your best bet be.
Any advice would be amazing. Thank you so much 🙂
On these trees the graft union is probably down low which means that the remaining truck is desired variety and not root stock. In other words, as long as the stems are not completely girdled they should re grow new branches and be really nice in time.
Thank you so much, Mike! That truly gives me hope 🙂 Thank you Also for the fast reply and all of the very useful information here. Truly appreciate it. /k
Will limestone landscape rock kill or damage Japanese Maple Trees? I recently placed limestone decorative landscape rock around some plants and two Japanese Maple trees. I have noticed the plants have turned brown and am now concerned that the limestone rock will affect the trees too?
The limestone could raise the PH of the soil, but it would take a long time and probably wouldn’t make much of a difference.
Thank you Mike! I very much appreciate your prompt reply. Your response enables me to let the landscape work I completed remain in place Thanks again and Happy New Year to you!
Hello Mike, I was trying for a Japanese vibe and planted a Lace Leaf crimson queen in my front flower bed. It’s been about 2 or 3 years now and I love how it looks. It is growing up my brick on my home and I didn’t have a problem with this until I recently read that branches of bushes and trees should not touch the house as they can attract termites. I thought too that the roots would not cause foundation problems . but now I wonder if I am wrong and that will eventually occur. Can I keep it where it is and trim it away from the brick every winter? Will it damage my foundation eventually? Should I have it removed/ transplanted? Can I cut it way back if I transplant it? I appreciate your wisdom and advice.
I would transplant it. It’s too close to the house. You can trim at the same time, but do all of that while it is dormant.
Its Nov. here and I planted my coral bark about 4 feet from a fence and about 12 feet away and under a large established elm. Should I go a ahead and find another spot? I put it there because winter is coming. Its 2′ tall and gorgeous. I thought that if it grows slowly that I may be able to enjoy it there for 5 or so years before I need to move it. What do you think? BTW, love your advice.
I’m concerned about the amount of roots that you’ll have to deal with later if you want to move it and I’m not sure it will get enough sunlight under that tree to be really pretty. Me? I’d put in an spot that is only 50% shade.
I’ve read that japanese maples don’t mind being moved too much, and I know that it hasn’t had chance to root in, so I’m going to get it back out of the hole and repot it along with two others that I am growing from seed. I will keep these trio together on the patio until I create a section of the landscape more suitable for their permanent home. Thank you for your advise, greatly appreciate it!
Quick question. I planted two Sango-kaku trees recently and they have been doing fine. Recently, some new growth has occurred and I noticed that the leaves, although healthy looking, are 2-3 times the size of the delicate small leaves that are on the rest of the tree. I don’t like these BIG leaves.
Why is this happening?
Long Beach, CA
If those leaves/branches are coming from below the graft union then they are suckers from the rootstock and should be removed as soon as you see a bud below the graft union. See this https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2011/07/suckers-on-grafted-plants/
Hi Mike, I bought my first maple last year and was delighted with how it came out in beautiful leaf in early spring. Then we suddenly had one hot day and all the leaves drooped and have now dried out completely despite ensuring a good watering once a week. I don’t think we over watered, but I don’t see how one hot day could kill it! I have just pruned back all the dried leaves. Will it recover?
The damage probably happened before you noticed that it got too dry. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
Thank you so much for your website!
I had a Japanese maple in a container for over 20 years. The container fell apart so we recently uprooted and transplanted it to another container. During the process we noted that the root had grown through the container and into the ground. We cut off part of the root and completed the transplant. This was done 4 weeks ago. The plant seems to be doing fine.
However, we watered the plant with diluted with miracle grow often in the past weeks. Hoping to stimulate (before I read your post). Now I’m concerned with two issues / questions: 1) over fertilized with Miracle Growth – is there anything we can do about it? water it more or? and 2) we noted that some leaves are starting to turn brown 🙁 We weren’t sure if this is due to the after affects of the transplant, the over fertilization or the heat wave we had about a week ago.
Our maple tree is about 9 ft tall, in a wine barrel type container. Thank you very much.
Probably not the Miracle Grow, just water as needed, the tree has been stressed. It should be fine.
Rachel Burr says
Hello. I have a 25 year old Japanese maple that is about 35 feet tall and is beautiful. I put a hose to water it a little and then forgot all about it and left it on overnight. The soil is soaked, I am afraid I just killed this beauty. Any tips on drying it out so the roots can breath? Certainly cannot dig it up and move it. Thanks
I wouldn’t worry, it should be fine. No different than 3 days of rain.
Christine CS says
I have a tiny (less than 12″) sapling that has sprouted itself about 12-15 feet away from our much older, larger, well-established Japanese Maple. I am trying to baby this one along, as I would like it to grow there. So far over the Spring and Summer, it is doing quite well, growing slowly but steadily. We are in Southwest Ohio, so we have decent winters, although recently they have been more mild than usual.. I am sure it will need some protection over the winter but I am wondering how best to help it get through the winter months. A large bell jar? A mini temporary greenhouse structure?
I’m inclined to say just leave it as is. Small plants are tougher than you think.
Chad A Carter says
I have had a 3ft jm for about 5 yrs now and it’s about 3.1 ft..all. I knew it would be slow growing, but geez…is there anything I can do to spur its growth some? It sits about 4 ft from a brick home on its east side and under a partial canopy of cypress trees, 10fr on its west side. To give it about 90% shade, as otherwise it would definitely burn up.
The short answer is no, there is nothing you can do to speed it up other than make sure the soil it is in is not too wet. Don’t try and push it with fertilizer, you could kill it.
Thanks so much for all your helpful advice on all this Mike!
I have a new Japanese Acer Palm Beni O’Take that stands about 5’ tall. Been in the ground for about a month and a few branches are looking distressed. The leaves are curling and starting to brown and crisp. I have a drip irrigation system that runs on it. Soil is moist but more clay like beyond the immediate hole that was dug for it. It’s only select branches doing this as opposed to through out. What steps should I be taking. Could it be getting too much water?
Thanks so much!!
Drip irrigation in a hole that is surrounded by clay could be a problem but what you describe sounds more like some branches dried out. Usually when a plant is too wet all of the leaves drop off.
Great thank you Mike! I’ll keep an eye on it and maybe set the irrigation system a bit lower on the amount it waters.
Again appreciate the expertise.!
Jason Baumgart says
HELP! I had no choice but to transplant my maple (6 year old Emperor) It’s been 4 days and it has drastically declined. My area has received over 4 inches of rain since the transplant. The soil is extremely soggy, the leaves are wilting and turning brown. Today I pulled back the weed mat and dug up the soil about 6 inch around the root zone to try and dry the soil out. I’ve covered the tree in da light weight semi transparent weed mat to filter the direct sun light from the leaves. How can I help my poor maple out, what else can I do to protect it and help it revive in it’s new home.
The shade cloth is fine, making sure the root zone is not flooded with water is important and maybe raise the tree a bit to make sure the roots can breath. Other than that they transplant shock is the thing that might do the tree in.
Is mulch and river rock too much around a new Japanese Maple? the river rock is for drainage and to keep the down spout from washing away the mulch. Its central Texas so it rains infrequently.
Using the rock for drainage is fine as long as you provide a path for the water to run away from the Japanese Maple. The Japanese maple should be planted a bit high so the water can not collect near the tree.
I am in the UK and think your info is so good. Thank you. We have two lovely Acer trees reported in large Chinese pots. The red Acer has scorched leaves ( we had this once before and it came back fine the following year ) There is a lot of conflicting advice out there. People I speak to such as the garden degree say that the cause of scorched leaves is lack of water and to put a water pipe down and get more water to the roots . You are suggesting in your articles here that one shouldn’t over water ? Some people say that because of the unusually hot and extremely windy weather we had a month ago that would have caused it etc etc please advise
With plants planted in the ground, especially in heavy soil, it’s easy to over water Japanese maples. But in above ground pots they lose water so much faster that more water is required. In a container the potting mix should drain well, therefore it would be almost impossible to over water.
My Japanese Maple has been in the ground for 3 months and have been doing well until the last three weeks. It’s in full sun for 5-6 hours, but the leaves are all turning green. I water it one to two times weekly when the soil is dry. It was beautiful the first two months and now it’s almost completly green and there are no new shoots growing at the base of the tree.
Some Japanese maples will turn green during the heat of the summer. It cold just be the variety that you have.
I have a beautiful Japanese maple. It’s more than 20 feet high and too close to the house. I’d love to trim it back but fear I will kill. I open to trying to trim it but not sure how far back. I’d like to email you a picture and would love any feedbacks to what to do and where to cut. Is that possible?
You may or may not like the maple after you trim it. You first have to decide whether or not you want to risk the tree.
I have a Japanese maple and love it. I’m not sure what kind but its very old. About twenty feet tall. It was behind our house when we moved in about six years ago. I recently noticed that the bark has started to peel off of the mid truck branches in large strips. I’m located in Kelseyville, CA. Thank you in advance.
I wouldn’t be overly concerned, just trim that bark up so there are no loose or ragged edges.
HELP!! One of my friends’ neighbors accidentally trimmed her Japanese Maple a lot too much, please email me for pictures, it is 30 years old and she is devistated! Please tell me there is something we can do to save her favorite tree!?
All you can do is wait and it’s likely to come back just fine.
Shari A Lueken says
She covered some of the rough ends with cotton, is that a bad thing? Also, I’ve been reading about how you shouldn’t cut too much off these trees, and this guy took about 3/4..
I don’t think the cotton is a good thing, it could hold too much moisture. Those wounds need to heal. I wouldn’t be overly concerned at this point, nothing you can do but give the tree time.
Mike I recently purchased a small, about 2 1/2 ‘ red maple. It’s been raining for about 2 week intervals with only a day or two hot sunny days in between. Due to the weather I haven’t been able to put it in the ground. I noticed that the leaves have gotten what looks like a grayish film on them. What is this and what can I do for it. Is it okay and is there hope? I’m in South Carolina.
It sounds like powdery mildew from all the humidity. Do some research on that to find a treatment. Probably won’t kill the tree but it’s difficult to get rid of.
I was given a Dragon’s Tears Japanese maple as a gift. It is in a 1 gal. pot and is about 2 feet high, appears to be very healthy, branching and fully leafed out. I live in southern NM and have no place in the ground to plant it where it would be protected from our hot, dry winds and wicked sun in the summer. A corner of my large porch is really the only place where it can get early morning sun, and be protected from the rest.
I have three questions: Is it okay to pot it into a 3 gallon pot, or is that too large right now? Using a good top soil with bark mixed in, no fertilizer and well draining pot -will I need to water it every day? Last, can I leave it out on the porch in the winter, with only about a month or so of average temps in the 30’s?
I want to give it the best chance I can, so any other recommendations is appreciated. And thanks so much for the very informative blog!
I have three questions: Is it okay to pot it into a 3 gallon pot, or is that too large right now?
Mike; 3 gallon pot would be fine.
Using a good top soil with bark mixed in, no fertilizer and well draining pot
Mike; Topsoi is a terrible idea for a container. It will not drain well enough. You need a light bark mix and a slow release fertilizer when container growing.
-will I need to water it every day?
Mike; In a container? Yes.
Last, can I leave it out on the porch in the winter, with only about a month or so of average temps in the 30’s?
Mike; It would be better placed on the ground, or partially buried in the ground for the winter. A porch is too high and dry.
Cj Lapp says
I purchased a Japanese red maple tree 3 years ago and it was approximately 3′ tall. Since then, it may have grown an inch or two and there are no “branches” coming off of it, just a grouping of red leaves at the bottom near the soil. Did they sell me a bush instead of a tree? The top foot of it is a whitish gray (almost looks dead). Thought about cutting a foot off of it to see if I can get it growing. Should I trim the few leaves that are growing at the bottom? Thanks!
The growth near the bottom could be from below the graft union, especially if the leaves are green or different. It’s possible the top, the desired variety, has died. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
Hey Mike, I live in NEW YORK and one of my neighbors is owner to three Japanese red Maples 2 that grow upright not sure of the name and one that’s a Dwarf. He’s selling his home and has offered us these plants. Do you have any tips for us transplanting? They are all about 3-4 years old, two of them are approx 7 feet tall.
Ideally don’t dig them until Thanksgiving. That’s when they should be dug. If you have to dig them sooner, get as large a root ball as you can and immediately put the trees in deep shade and keep the leaves wet and hope for the best.
Kelly Machart says
My Japanese Maple is flooded! How can I save it from dying of overwatering? I literally planted it 2 months ago; should I dig it up until the land dries out?
Dig it out and plant it in a higher, dryer place. Build a raised bed for it.
I have an outstanding Japanese maple it is 25 ft tall but seems to be to close to my pool filter. Should I be concerned about the roots destroying the pipes under ground? I am having issues with the pool and I am not sure if it could be the root system
I really can’t say. If the pipes are PVC then the roots shouldn’t be a problem but a large tree close to the pool, close to the concrete apron, those things could be a problem. I kinda doubt any issues you are having now have to do with the tree but I really don’t know that.
I planted a 5′ tall Bloodgood in spring 2019. It looked healthy all summer and this spring leafed out nicely, but this past weekend we had a hard freeze (temps in the mid 20’s) and although I covered the tree with a sheet, all the leaves are now drooping. Do you think a tree this young will recover? I live in Michigan, zone 5b/6a. Thanks in advance.
Covering plants works to help hold frost a bay but freezing temps permeate coverings. I would expect it to come back, but it has to make new buds and it will be sparse for a while.
andrea thalasinos says
I have a question. I’ve had a lovely Bloodgood Acer that we planted about ten years ago. It was doing fine until last spring, 2019. Most of the branches did not leaf out. I left it in hopes it would recover. This spring 2020, it has no leaves but suckers are growing mid way up the trunk and appear to be the same leaves as the other trees beside it. (They are the same variety) If I leave them, will it grow into a tree from the trunk? Should I cut off the rest of the woody branches. I pruned some of the and they were green on the outside bark but inside was dry, dead wood with no sign of life. I would love for this tree to live, it seems to be fighting to stay alive. Thanks, Andrea
As long as the leaves match the ones that you originally had then that means that your tree was grafted down low and those branches are bloodgood. Remove the dead wood. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
Jason Borawski says
I have a 12 year old Redblood that was growing fabulously. This year, so far no leaves have popped. It does have 1 new growth growing about a foot from the base of the trunk. Are the top branches all toast and not going to bloom. I scratched one of the branches and they appear to be green under the bark. Hoping the tree isn’t lost. Im in Northeast PA for weather reference.
As long at the tissue below the bark is still green you have hope. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
No mush some have green under them, but no leave growth yet.
Darrel Hoffman says
I didn’t know not to fertilize my japanese maple. It is a about 15 feet tall and wide. I gave it about 3 gallons of a normal strength fertilizer solution. About a week later most of the leaves have curled up. A lot of leaves have lived and look okay. What would you say is the prognosis. Since then we have had a lot of rain, I’m hoping for it to flush the fertilizer away. Help me please I am so sad about this.. Thank you In advance.
As long as many leaves are still fine I think all it needs is time to recover. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
Jo Hadley says
What a fabulous website this is, thank you for all the useful information! I read through all the questions & your answers on this site, but none seem to fit our situation. We are very concerned & hope you can help! We have a 15-20 year old, well-established Japanese Maple (unsure of the specific variety, although I suspect it is a Bloodgood). It put out leaves as usual this spring, but instead of opening up, they are falling off. The tree is on a hillside, so I don’t see how it could get too wet (although, we are on mostly clay w/ LOTS of rocks in it). We have never fertilized it. I prune it every year. It only gets a few hours of direct sun each afternoon. We’ve had much colder winters & much wetter springs (we live in KY). I’ve kept it minimally watered during the extreme heat of the summer (only if we’ve not had any rain for an extended period of time). We would hate to lose it!. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thank you in advance!
It sounds like you’ve done everything right with your tree. Possibly a late freeze damaged the new leaves? If so, it will make new leaves. Possibly something girdling the trunk of the tree below the soil. String, wire, ??????
This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
C Lynch says
Mike and Jo,
I was so happy to find this correspondence. We are also in KY and having similar issues. I just wanted to share that every Japanese Maple tree in our neighborhood is doing the same thing. Our trees are 30 + years old and I don’t even remember this happening. I was relieved to read Mike’s opinion that the trees will make new leaves.
Jo Hadley says
Thank you SO much! Yes, all the branches pass the scratch test, & I do finally see evidence of new leaf buds. Yea, SO relieved!
I have a young Bloodgood Japanese Maple that is about 9 feet tall and was planted by a landscaping company about 3 years ago. My issue is that my tree is not full. One side of the tree is bare with no branches coming from the trunk. What can I do to make my tree fill out? Will it ever fill out? I am concerned because I placed the tree in a prominent position in front of my house as a specimen tree. Right now it looks like a Charlie Brown tree. Thank you.
Yes, it will fill out. Best thing to do is trim the tips of the branches lightly. That will keep it from growing more outward and force it to fill in. But after three years it should be much fuller now. I’m concerned it’s not happy where it is. Maybe too wet? Make sure there are no downspouts emptying water into that area.
Michelle Costelloe says
I recently fed my acers with plant food….big mistake they have started dieing the leaves have all shriveled up. Is there anything I can do to save them. We live in Ireland so thet don’t get too much sun and are well protected from wind etc so I am sure after reading your article in must be the nitrate in the food.
I’m not sure what the best course of action would be. Remove any remaining fertilizer if it’s granular? Flood the surface of the soil to dilute any remaining fertilizer? Then just leave the trees alone to see if they can recover on their own. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead. As long as you still have green tissue below the bark there is a chance that they’ll make new buds.
Laurel Swenson says
My laceleaf red Japanese maple tree had a very grey -white branch on top. I grabbed it and it snapped off leaving a pointy break. Two other top branches look that grey-white color. My husband is doing the catch test but you can see healthy leaves down the branch. What should I do?? Chesapeake, VA
Simply cut away the dead branches down to a point where the tissue under the bark is nice and healthy. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
Keilaina Barrett says
Hi, Mike. My husband recently thought he was doing me a favor by trimming back our 4ft tall japanese maple with electric hedge trimmers. It looks horrific. I immediately broke down in tears when I saw it. One side in particular is just a blunt edge of hacked branches and he cut off all of the trailing branches on the bottom. Is there anything I can do? Will my poor baby ever recover?
I’m sure it will be fine, just wait until spring and then mid summer trim lightly if needed to balance the tree. Report back to me then, your tree might be amazing.
hey mike! i purchased a weeping japanese maple early summer. i thought i was over watering it, so i slowed down only to find out i was under watering it. so i bought a moist meter and have been constantly watching it, but i fear i might be too late – the leaves still look scorched. i’ve been trying to keep the gauge from going to dry (there are 3 dry gauges, 3 moist, 3 wet, but it’s been difficult to keep it from going to lowest dry gauge and i haven’t seen it improve much. is there any recommendations you have before winter comes? is it too late to see any new growth this year?
A Japanese maple in the ground should not be that hard to be kept watered. If the tree is still viable it could make new leaves this fall, but that’s not really a good thing as close as we are to freezing weather. About all you can do is water as needed and hope for the best til spring. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
Carmen Alvarado says
My lace leaf japanese maple lost its top center branch a few years ago. The other branches are growing but the center lead branch that gives the tree its height is gone. Can I cut a low branch and graft it at its top where the main center branch used to be? I will be cutting into the center of the main tree trunk to insert the branch. Will this be possible. Will it kill the tree? Thank you for your help.
It won’t kill the tree but it won’t work. Your best bet is to take a low branches and train it to grow upright by staking. Grafting is really tricky and you can only graft cambium layer to cambium layer and you have to work with small scions (cuttings) no more than 8″ long.
We have a Japanese Maple that has gone through 1 winter. It is about 6 feet tall and it is in a large container. It has seemed distressed since we got it. The leaves seemed to crumple on the end. We moved it from patio with morning sun to front yard with afternoon sun. It gets watered 2/week during the winter and almost everyday in the Texas heat The leaves are green but small with wilting tips on 20% of it. It had some red leafing when the leaves first came out in the spring. Is morning or afternoon sun preferable? Can it take all day sun? Should it be put in the ground? Thanks for your input.
Yes, it very much would be happier in the ground with a least some shade, 50% shade in Texas would be best.
Mike, We have two Lions Head Japanese maples, we bought them 3 years ago and they were about 3ft tall. After our first winter, we lost about 1/2 of the length of the canopy branches. This past winter with temperatures reaching -50 this spring I thought they both died. The two trees are alive, however the entire canopy branches up to to 3″ thick are dead. The new foliage is growing out of the main trunk. What do we do?
All you can do is remove all of the dead wood and hope for the best. You could cover for the winter with white plastic but I’m not sure how much that will help. Even covered the cold permeates.
We are on the Wisconsin – Illinois border. Would covering with burlap and plastic help? I’m guessing with the last winter the answer is no, but normally we don’t get that cold…
We are on the Wisconsin/Illinois border. Normally our winters are not like this past one. If we cover with burlap and plastic do you think that would help?
I don’t think burlap does much good but white plastic, never clear, is how growers over winter most of their plants.
Hi Mike, last year I planted a 4′ Autumn Moon Japanese Maple in my Maine garden replacing an invasive hydrangea bush. It’s a sunny spot with rich soil. Both last year and this year the tree started the Spring with beautiful golden early leaves that turned light green in June. In July the top leaves turned brown – the rest of the tree stayed very healthy. It’s odd that it did the same thing both years. Any idea why it’s doing this, and should I trim the top branches or leave them to leaf out next Spring? Our Spring seasons are very rainy (and the tree seems to like it) then in summer it gets drier – could the tree be drying out too quickly? I don’t fertilize.
I think your tree is fine, it’s just that the intense summer sun is burning those top leaves. I wouldn’t prune now because that would expose more leaves to the sun. It would probably be happier with a bit of shade.
I purchased a Japanese Maple Memorial Day weekend and have not yet planted it. I am getting a lot of dried and dead leaves on the plant. As my plan is to use a living urn to bury my beloved dog I am very invested in making sure that this tree is going to survive before I move forward. It is currently in a shaded area where I plan to plant it and we are in NJ so have been getting a lot of rain. Any thoughts?
More than likely your tree has dried out sitting on to of the ground in a container, that’s why it’s failing. Keeping plants alive in containers is very difficult and they need to be thoroughly soaked on a daily basis, if not twice a day. Plants are happiest in the ground.
Thank you. Do you recommend planting it or getting a new tree?
If it’s alive plant it. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
I’d plant it if still alive. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
We have had a healthy and happy JM tree for 20 years. We decided to get new sod in our backyard and the gardeners left about 2” around the base of the tree where it had a much wider berth before. It also used to get watered 2-3 times s week and now it gets watered every morning. It is in sunlight for the most part so it didn’t seem excessive but I have a black thumb so what do I know.
Since about a month after the sod it started dropping clumps of leaves and at the top of the tree the leaves seem to be turning brown. I’m wondering if we should cut the sod away further and if so, how far?
I would remove at least a little sod. I hope they did not add soil around this tree, that’s never good. But the daily watering is also not good for a Japanese maple. It’s sounds like the tree is just too wet.
My Japanese maple has a lot of dead patches and gets worse each year. The bark appears to be falling off slowly. It has beautiful green leaves with red vines and currently has red seed pods. The tree has an amazing thick rough bark that moss is flourishing on.. It is about 10’ tall and about a 20’ spread. The branches are green that become brown and rough with age. I would hate to lose this tree.
Sounds like you might have Lichens on your tree. See this; https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/fungus-lichen/treatment-tree-lichen.htm
We are in need of advice! We live in Nashville, TN, and have a beautiful, very old Japanese Maple in our front yard. Truly spectacular, and probably 50 years old. Next to it was a very old Hackberry that was about 60 feet tall and provided quite a lot of shade. The Japanese Maple has been living and growing in filtered light. Unfortunately, a bad storm took down the Hackberry (thankfully the maple was untouched), but now the Japanese maple has full sun exposure from sunrise to about 3:00pm each day. Will it survive this drastic change? Is there anything that we can do to help it?
More than likely it will be fine. If you see the edges of the leaves burning you can cover it with shade cloth in the hottest part of the summer. If it’s really an issue. It’s not unusual for Japanese maples to burn a little around the edges late in the summer.
I had a moment of temporary insanity. My Japanese lace-leaf bush/tree was a big blob that had overgrown it’s bed so far it was killing 2ft of grassand dragging on the ground. I took the trimmer to it and cut it back, thinking I could trim the branches underneath. Unfortunately the way these trees grow, I didn’t realize the surface of the “blob” was actually quite shallow. All I had done was leave a mess of dead leaves and branches showing with only the crown of the bush healthy with leaves. The tree grows prolifically here in the pecific NW, but is there anything I can do to help it along? Did I just murder my poor unsuspecting friend? Crossing my fingers hoping there is something I can do to fix my idiocy.
The best thing you can do is nothing. Just give it time.
Perfect Plants says
Thank you for sharing. So much useful information. Japanese maples truely are a magnificent tree! Love them
I live in Northwest Indiana and my Japanese Maple is about 5-7 years old. For the first time only about 1/2 of my maple bloomed leaves and I’m worried. I checked the leaves for bugs, checked the bark for spots or rot and did the scratch test. The only thing different I can think of is, we have had A LOT OF RAIN and my husband removed some hydrangeas that were near the tree. The lower branch was affecting the hydrangeas growth. He thinks he may have cut one of the tree roots too. Can this be the problem and will it come back? Thanks for your time!
I don’t think this has anything to do with your husband cutting some roots. Shock would have affected the entire tree. I happen to have a really nice weeping maple that did the exact same thing this year and I think it’s just something that happens from time to time. Most like caused by Verticillium Wilt, see this article that I wrote a while back; https://japanesemaplelovers.com/japanese-maple-diseases/
I had tulip bulbs close to a young Japanese maple. I noticed the maple leaves died soon after I did this. If the tree itself is dead, can I still plant another Japanese maple in its place? I have watered the area thoroughly for a few weeks hoping to wash the fertilizer away
Replanting another tree in the same spot should be fine. The tulips shouldn’t hurt the tree but fertilizer will.
Hi Mike,I had 2 blood good maple tress planted in June 2018 so almost one year ago,3IN. in diameter trunk about 6foot tall,it was planted correctly like you said,it looked good all year until spring time ,it only leafed out about 1/3. I don’t know what to do.Should I prune the dead branches now or is it to early for this tree? I live in Fort Smith Arkansas, all of the neighbors tress are doing great here just worried please help.
Check the branches first. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead. If they are dead you might as well remove them. The tree is likely to recover and fill back in, but it will take several years.
Robert Pollack says
I have a large 20+feet high Japanese maple in my front yard and it is wonderful except it has started to have its roots enter my sewer line. I have had them cleaned out but I’d like to dig down where the line is and remove the roots closest to the line. How far from the tree would it be safe to dig and how deep? I’m pretty sure the line is 7 to 8 feet from the tree.
That should be a safe distance and you really don’t have a lot of choice.
You are right on about Milorganite. Most of my ornamentals love it but I would never use it on food crops. Even though the sewage sludge is treated and the human waste in it is not “toxic” anymore you’ve got to consider all of the other things that go into municipal waste such as antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals just to name one catagory! These are not removed by any “treatment”.
I recently purchased a house and it has a small Japanese Maple out front in full sun. When the leaves came back this year, the tree is half red and half green. The red leaves are very skinny and look sickly to me (but this is my first Japanese Maple so maybe i’m wrong?). It seems like the previous owner did not take routine care of this tree. I’d like to help it but I’m unsure where to start. Are the skinny leaves a sign of some disease or nutrient dificiency?
The red skinny leaves are probably perfect fine. The green leaves are probably coming from a sucker from the root stock that should have been removed along time ago. See this; https://japanesemaplelovers.com/one-finger-pruning/
It could also be an Orangeola which are red and green at the same time. They have what are called “lace” leaves… they are very thin, and weepy. This is the expected appearance of a tree such as this.
Carol Murray says
Hi Mike, I have a Japanese Bloodgood that is between 8-10 years old. I noticed last year that the centre of the tree is pretty much bare, is there anything I can do to thicken it up? (Pruning)
You won’t get many leaves in parts of the tree that receive little to no sunshine. Pruning to let more light in would help, if you really think it’s a problem.
Virginia Gilbert says
I created a zen rock garden with a two pond waterfall. In the rock garden area, I planted my low hanging Japanese maple. It is a beautiful little tree, or at least it was. I used to have a gardener but he died a few years ago. I’ve had some back problems that kept me from working on my garden for the last couple of years and I had not been able to find competent help during the meantime. During this period of neglect, some raspberry bushes and other wild invasive plants took over my garden. Recently I hired someone who was recommended to me and we started work on getting the garden back into shape. The first session, we cleared out the area on the other side of the pond from the Japanese maple. This worker did a great job this first time and followed my directions. The second time, however, is a different story. We started to clear out the area around the Japanese maple. I told him four different times with emphasis to be very careful around my tree. When I turned my back on him and went into my house for a few minutes, when I went back outside, I saw he had chopped a major limb off of the center of the tree and had chopped off another limb. He had also cut down another tree I told him to leave for the time being. That other tree would have provided some shade for my maple from our hot north Alabama weather. I’ve been sick about this ever since. My tree had been heavily shaded by the forest of raspberry and invasive plants that included trumpet vines. We sprayed weed killer on that side of the pond, but stayed away from spraying any near the maple. There was a good bit of green on the tree when it first got exposed back to the sun, but now almost all the leaves are brown. This tree has always seemed to be sensitive to too much sun, and I believe it now is having a reaction to over exposure to sunlight. I believe it is in a state of shock. We have had some rain and I’ve watered the tree several times since, and yesterday at my local nursery, they told me to not fertilize it and to give it a lot of water because we have been in a drought. What I have read here, the advice is not to water the tree too much, but since it’s last watering was about four days ago, I thought I would water it today. I did not do that yet for several reasons. First, I noticed that the invasive raspberry bushes or whatever they are were sending suckers up again and some of them looked liked they were growing directly on the trunk of my Japanese maple. I need to get these vampire plants off and away from my tree, but I’m not sure how to do that safely (hope my tree’s not dying). Any suggestions? Secondly, as I was cutting back the resurgent vampire plants, I started to get attacked by fire ants which I saw were rushing up my tree trunk. I got bitten in a few places on my hand and foot before I was able to get away from them. I then realized they had built a nest at the base of my tree. I dusted the area with fire ant powder and decided it was best to let the power have a chance to destroy this colony first before watering my tree which I think I might do tomorrow. Considering these issues, what do you recommend I do in trying to help my poor tree to hopefully recover from all this trauma?
Some water, every few days until it cools off. The tree should be fine come spring. No fertilizer.
Ella Bayne says
I’m getting dead spots in some of my Japanese red, lace leaf, weeping maples. They are over 30 years old. Cause and/or remedy? I’ve lost one last year. This is heartbreaking. Help! Please.
Not really much you can do but prune away the dead branches as long as you are sure they are dead. Scratch the bark looking for green.
Dory Reimer says
My Japanese Maple is flourishing on one side, growing lopsided, far too heavy on the sunny side and not flourishing on the shady side. I feel I can’t trim it because the sunny side is so beautiful in autumn.
But must I sacrifice that beauty so that the other side get nice and red too?.
Yes, you have to trim it, at least a little.
My 20 year old Japanese Maple is thinning out and just looks sickly. I did the scratch test for the branches and they are healthy and green. There are a lot of small , 1” dead twigs though. A local nursery said it might be stressed and suggested “Kick Start” an all purpose, balanced , organic based supplement formulated for soil or foliage. They claim
This product has a unique carbon matrix, specifically humic acid, which improves the ability of plants to take up vital nutrients
Might this do any damage ? I’ve never fertilized this Japanese maple
as long as this product is not high in nitrogen it shouldn’t do any harm.
15 year old Japanese maple – don’t know variety… green leaves, NE Florida bad it’s about 15-20’ tall. Was afraid verticillium – but off branch and looked at wood: no streaking. Looked further and base of trunk has breaking off bark – like rot. We’ve been overwatering our new sod the past 3 weeks and our zones don’t distinguish sod vs trees and shrubs. I know wet feet are bad bad bad … any guidance on how to help dry out and fingers crossed – save the tree? I’ve pulled back all the mulch to expose soil and will stop sprinklers immediately.
I think you’ve done all you can do for now.
Linnea Lahlum says
Mike, can you cover in the future the right way to prune a japanese maple for a fuller form? With mine all the branches keep getting longer, but it could use more fullness. I am afraid to just trim the tips, as I don’t know if that will induce branching, or whether each branch will just designate a new “leader” from the furthest node (the one below the cut). That’s what happened when I pruned my fig and peach trees. Thank you!
Pretty simple really, just trim the tips and trim the tips of any new branches that appear.
Joyce Drury says
I bought a dark red 3 foot acer a few weeks ago and planted it in a terracotta pot. I noticed today that some of the leaves are being eaten by a very tiny green caterpillar. HELP. Thank you in anticipation.
I seldom spray my plants with anything except when I am required to for shipping purposes. But I think a general insecticide like Sevin should do the trick.
Question, I have a Japanese Maple in my backyard, theres Ivy growing all over around it, and it appears to be choking out the tree and the roots. How can I remove the Ivy without killing the tree? I know its not good to have that Ivy there. its not on the tree branches but on the base and on the trunk.
Is there a poison that wont effect the tree I can use to find easily at home depot or lowes? Or do I need to start ripping out the IVY with a Set of pruners? Thanks for your help.
There are no short cuts, it has to be manually removed. Best to start at the bottom. At the very least if you cut it the bottom and then dig out those roots what’s in the tree will die. But remove all that you can by hand.
robert gardner says
pull the ivy of the tree being careful not to hurt any of the maple bark dig up as much of the ivy roots as you can and throw them away.
robert gardner says
pull the ivy of the tree being careful not to hurt any of the maple bark dig up as much of the ivy roots as you can and throw them away. you can always make a bonsai out of the ivy root system if you can find one big enough.
Last Fall I moved my Japanese Maple from the backyard to the front. It was very healthy about 10′ tree maybe 4″ diameter. I watered it every day and it looked pretty healthy coming into the Spring, the bark and branches were nice and red. I only have leaves showing up on one small branch at the bottom and the bark is starting to look gray in parts. What does this mean and what should I do?
The tree is clearly failing. They actually are pretty easy to care for. Too much water, planted too deep are the two things that can do them harm in a hurry. Or of course planted in a wet area. Check to see if any of the tree is alive. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
Thanks Mike I truly appreciate the response. I dug out the mulch I had placed around the base and started watering it. The landscaper that installed it thinks it didn’t have time to properly root before going dormant for winter? Good news is im seeing a lot of little red stems popping out toward the bottom. I scraped the bark and it’s nice and green so hopefully it’s just running late. Thanks
Kathy Evans says
I’ve had a Japanese Maple in a pot for about 12 years. It did great for years, but about 2-3 years ago started to have a problem. It’d leaf out and look great, but in a month the large healthy leaves disappeared leaving smaller rather puny looking leaves. This year I didn’t even get the initial large, healthy looking leaves, just smaller ones. I’ve identified several potential issues in researching your post and others: 1) I’ve never root pruned the tree, 2) I have fertilized with Miracle Grow in the past (but not this year), and 3) I thought that some of the soil may have disintegrated and added more last year and may well have raised the soil level too high. The tree isn’t thriving but doesn’t appear to be dying (unless it is a ‘slow death’). Can I/should I dig out some of the soil to lower the soil level? Anything else I should try at this time? I’ll remove it from the pot and root prune this winter and be careful not to repot the soil line too high…..
If you can remove some of the soil without damaging roots that would be fine. The tree would be much happier in the ground as long as the spot isn’t wet.
Maggie Mahar says
Two years ago , my Lacey 25-year-old Japanese maple
(growing in a box on my sunny terrace)
became very sick.
In the spring, it didn’t leaf out.
At the time, I thought that a hard winter and heavy wind had damaged it.
But now I suspect that over-watering was the problem. I thought it needed to be watered
thoroughly, so that water came out of the bottom of the box.
This spring, it is looking somewhat better
Some very thin branches are bare, but the majority have leaves, and the leaves
are growing bigger. Though the leaves are still sparse, even on the
Assuming over-watering was the problem, is there anything I can do
to bring it back to its old, vigorous, beautiful self?
(I haven’t been feed iit.)
Can I preen this spring, or should I wait until summer?
Could have been winter damage, that’s what it sounds like. As long as the soil in the box drains well you really can’t over water it. When the water stands for a long time that’s an issue. Best thing to do is just give it time. Preen can be applied now.
I planted a Japanese weeping Maple last year and so far it has survived. It is about 4 feet tall but at the top there are branches growing but no leaves and they look dead on the ends.
Should these be pruned off or should I be patient? Does this mean the tree is dying off gradually?
The leaves under these stalks look quite healthy.
Thankyou for the good information in the blog. I was about to go and fertilise to see if that helped.
It’s too early to start removing branches, leave them until June then prune what is not performing. Tip die back is pretty normal so I wouldn’t be concerned about that. Don’t fertlilize, I never fertilize anything in my landscape, never have. Not once.
Thanks Mike -that is hopeful news. I am in the opposite season to the US and it is early Fall after a very hot Summer here, so I might prune off just the very dead looking tips.
This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
Mike some vandals recently broke my Japanese maple at ground level snapping root ball clean off. Must I say goodbye?
Yes, I would say it’s a gonner. It might send up shoots from the rootstock, but they’ll be pretty boring, generic looking branches. Not what you had.
We have a Miniature Japanese Maple, I think, that has grown up to I can’t see over it out the window to our pool. I would like to cut it down substantially. Will it fill out again in a year or two if we cut it back to the trunk & leave it about 2 – 2.5 feet tall?
Being a weeping variety that would be pretty devastating for the tree. I’d much rather see you have it moved. A tree like that is valued at well over $1,000, maybe $2,000. See this; https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/11/moving-a-large-laceleaf-weeping-japanese-maple-tree/
Al Salt says
Hi Mike, I’m new to Japanese Red Maples and would like to ask you about keeping and growing the one I bought in a pot. Right now it is still in the 5 gallon container it came in. I would like to know the proper depth and “OD” I should use to depot it. I do not want to plant it as it is on our patio and is placed where it gets the early morning sun and shade in the afternoon. I would appreciate any information you could tell me. I have only watered it and mulched it since we’ve had it about 6 months now and it is about 8′ tall. Thanks again Mike.
See this article, it applies to Japanese maples as well. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2011/04/how-to-plant-a-ball-and-burlap-tree/
Sylvia Knowlton says
I planted some bloodgood and coral bark Japanese maples in very large containers, about 3 feet by 3 feet and about 6 cu feet of soil each. The trees are about 6 feet tall and the trunks are 1 inch and a half. the with of the containers are a lot larger than the container where they came, which was about 10 inches wide. How long would these trees live in these containers? Do I have to prune the roots every 5 years or so? The containers have holes and they are in a sunny area in zone 8. Thanks in advance for your reply!
In zone 8 I’d say they’d live in there a long time. Fertilize with just a little bit of Osmocote once each season. Make sure the soil drains well.
Clare Shelly says
Could the die back on my 20year old Acer Palmatum Dissectum Purpureum be due to my neighbour’s huge beech tree which overhangs my garden? My 3foot high maple has been gorgeous for years but since summer 2015 the top branches have dried out & become woody. Newer branches have grown at ground level but upper branches & leaves struggle. I thought the roots of the nearby beech tree were robbing the maple of water. It’s not a light problem as I keep the overhanging branches cut. My neighbour is reluctant to cut down her beech though is is way too large for a small front garden!.
I have a green ornamental maple in my rear garden which is thriving..
It really depends on when those branches died. It could be delayed winter damage from those two really harsh winters. If it happened in the summer, it probably result of drought. Even established trees need additional water when it’s really hot and dry. I doubt that the beech tree has little to do with it.
We have a big beautiful Japanese Maple tree that we just adore. This morning some tradesmen decided to hack some very big strong branches down (without permission) and we are devasted. They have been hacked at the root of the branch, will they ever grow back? It is the main feature of our kitchen & backyard. It’s about 30 years old. Help!!! X
At this point there’s not much you can do but give the tree a chance to fill in. It will take some time, but it will fill in.
Donald in Atanta says
Mike. I have some trees that are about 25 years (six or so), 5 are lace leaf and do get morning or afternoon sun. The Bloodgood gets filtered sun and is still a large tree.
My concern. Some 1-3 and 5 gallon trees I’ve purchased on the last few years just don’t seem to be growing with the same vigor. Most have been in the ground at least 2-3 years. Some get six hours a day sun, others get only filtered afternoon sun. Orangeola, lions head, shidirea, crimson queen, emerald lace, green hornet and others, about 35 additional total have been planted. I put mostly compost around them as mulch and only gave a small amount of fertilizer for the first year. Given they have been in the ground three years, would it be okay to use a small amount of extended release pellets to see if it will kick-start them toward maturing/growing a bit quicker.
None are in areas that are prone to excessive moisture and some are mounded and have grown some, but, is 3 years too early for the roots to develop to sustain meaningful growth?
Any info would be appreciated.
Sure sounds to me like a soil problem. Too wet, planted too deep? Something. They are not fast growers but they should put on at least 8″ of new growth a year. Maybe 4″ to 5″ on the Lion’s Head. I little bit of Osmocote isn’t going to harm them if applied in moderation, about 2 tablespoons in the spring.
We planted a Japanese maple in the spring, within a flower garden. The leaves on our maple or drying out and falling off. We do have mulch over it and we do water. I know this us a silly question, but if we over water would it act like this. I also threw out some forget-me-nots seed around it. Should I not have done that? Does the maple need it’s own space? We paid 185 for this tree and it was beautiful, I so want to save it. It looks like it’s on its way out! Help!
Oh, it does not have filtered sun light, it’s in the sun most of the day, until 4pm.
If you have kept this tree watered and it never went through a spell of being too dry, then I would suspect the tree is planted too deep, or it has been over watered. But if it might have gone a couple of weeks without water when it was really hot, that could be the problem. Check the soil around the base of the tree. Right now it’s probably soggy because of the watering you’ve done lately.
When planting a tree the top of the root ball should be about 1″ above grade. Any deeper can be fatal, especially for a Japanese maple. If you just planted it this season, you can probably raise it without causing more damage.
Japanese maples need water, but they love to be in well drained soil and never have their roots stay wet for very long.
The Alabama Forestry Commission gave out free seedlings a few years ago. My niece gave me a very small Japanese Maple seedling. It sat out on the patio for a couple years, not growing very much, and just having a couple of leaves. Last year I planted it in the front yard and it has grown a small amount with two droopy branches sort of in a v shape, about a foot tall.. Is this a normal growth rate? It just seems it should be larger by now. The leaves do turn pretty colors, but I would like for it to be bigger with more branches. I do not have a green thumb and generally kill everything I try to grow. Sadly….
Japanese maples are easy to grow but they don’t like to be in wet ground, they don’t like to be fertlized, they don’t like to be planted too deep. And the sun in Alabama is pretty harsh for them. They love it in filters sunlight. If all of those conditions are good it will take off and grow like crazy next year.
Jeff miller says
Hey Mike, our Japanese maple has very brown edges on the leaves, why is that? How much should we water our tree? Thanks so much!
Brown edges on a Japanese maple this time of year is almost normal but watering does help. Just don’t make the soil soggy wet. The soil should be moist and cool, not powdery dry but at the same time not soggy.
Some one backed over my small coral bark Japanese maple from our wedding ceremony. It’s only been planted going on two years now so it’s still very young. It broke off at the base. If I water the stump that is left will it come back out? Or is there any way to root what broke off? I’m desperate to save this tree that has such a special meaning for our family.
The chances of rooting the broken branch are slim to none this time of year. It could come back from what’s left if it broke above he graft union. Don’t soak it, just water as needed and hope for the best.
Help as I’m not that green fingered,
I have a established acer that was in my garden when I bought it 10 years ago, I have since dug out around it and built walls to extend the grassed area, but now I’m needing to raise the bed by 4″ is this a no no? Was thinking about a sunken area around base, As its a beautiful plant that I cut back last year and has flourished since, any advice would be appreciated
Adding 4″ of soil over the roots of an established tree is usually considered not a good thing to do. I wouldn’t take the chance. It’s the equivalent of the tree being planted too deep.
Hey Mike! Quick question. We have had a gorgeous 10+ Japanease Maple in our back yard landscaping for about 8 years. Last year with our incredibly hot (unseasonable) summer in Upstate NY, half of the tree lost all of its leaves. They never came back this year :(. I worry that it never will. Any tips?
Chances are that part of the tree is dead. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead. If it’s dead you might as well remove the dead wood, trim up the rest of the tree and hopefully it will fill in nicely in a couple of years. I’ve seen this before and it’s not really weather related, just some thing that happens that I cannot explain.
Dee Dee says
Please disregard my last note. I saw my previous question answered when I sent it.
Dee Dee says
Hi! I had a question that I sent at the beginning of the month, I still don’t see it on here? It said it needed to be approved first.
Hoping Mike will be able to help out!
Tammy Rilet says
I have a problem/question about a lace leaf Japanese maple. I’m fairly new at attempting to grow my own bonsai. I had just finished wiring this beautiful little nursery stock tree and went to make a slight bend and my trunk cracked. The trunk was a little over half inch in diameter where it broke. It only cracked about half way through. I immediately straightened it, wrapped it in putty and supported it. This was one side of a split in the main trunk. The other side looks perfect, but the side with the partial crack now has withering leaves. The trunk above the crack is still green, but it has only been about four days. My question is, will I lose that half of my little tree? Should I have done something different. It was such a beautiful little tree, I wish hadn’t attempted to bend it at all.
I think you’ve done all you can. I would not have used any kind of putty, just wrap it really tight. All you can do is wait and see if that part of the tree is really dead or just shocked. Could take weeks to know for sure if not a couple of months. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
Dee Dee says
Thank you for all the great fertilizing instructions in this post.
We have followed your advice and used Millorganite to fertilize our 35 year old Japanese maple (green). The last few years we have seen a decline in bright green leafs and more dead branches. The leafs start out very green and within a month start to turn brown with the tips curling.
We lost another Japanese maple and finally cut it down this year. We are now seeing the gradual process in the remaining tree.
We live outside of Los Angeles in the San Feranado Valley, our summers are hot!
I wanted to post pictures here but I’m not able to here.
Thank you for any advice you have!
Don’t fertilize the tree at all. I never fertilize plants in my landscape. That hot summer sun in Calf is very hard on Japanese maples, but I’m not sure if that’s the problem or not. Just make sure they have enough water, but never too much.
Dee Dee says
Thank you! I’m just see this!
We already fertilized the tree : ( Using the instructions that were recommended.
Ongoing, we should never fertilized it? It has always held up during our warm summers, the last few years, not so great!
I never fertilize any of the plants in my landscape. Not at home, not at the nursery. Plants that we grow in containers have to be fertilized because they are grown in a soil less mix.
Stefanie Ri'chard says
I just had two Japanese maples planted in my front yard and want to be sure that they do not die. I read that they can be planted in full sun and am wondering if the Georgia sun will be too much for them come summer months. Some of the leaves have started to show distress and I hope that is because as we were watering the yard, we were watering the leaves. I switched that process to now include watering the roots only. Just curious as to whether I am on the right track and if I should consider moving them to partial shade. The problem with that idea is that I am on a corner lot and most of the house gets full sun during the day. Anything with partial sun is too close to the house and will cause a problem later.
The Georgia sun is going to be hard on them, partial shade would be best.
I have a red Japanese Maple that is about 15 feet tall. We moved 7 years ago and dug it up and moved it with us. It has looked like it made it through the move. But, last year and again this year, I have noticed branches where no leaves appear, and months later those branches will turn grayish. I usually cut them back, and hope for the best. But, this is continuing and now again about three branches are again without leaves, I am afraid to continue to cut them back due to fear of losing the entire tree. Any suggestions? HELP PLEASE!
I’m guessing that those branches are dying because of two years worth of winter damage. If they are dead remove them, you won’t harm the tree. As long as the rest of the tree is healthy it will bounce back just fine. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
I planted a Shu Shidare about 3 weeks ago. It brought it out and is producing leaves however the leaves look terribly wilted.
Some are black and dried up.
I’m wondering if it’s too much water or not enough water ?
Live in Virginia it’s been rather warm so I have been giving it a little extra water just a good dousing every morning nothing too extreme
If anything too much water. They hate wet feet. Also make sure it’s not planted too deep. The root ball should only have about an inch of soil over it.
Also our Japanese maple had winter damage to its trunk from freezing and thawing (vertical “tear” in bark surface on south side of tree). Could this cause limbs to die off? I’ve since read I should protect the trunk in the winter with a special wrap. What do you think?
The dead branches are from the same cold weather that damaged the trunk. I honestly don’t think wrapping will do any good. You really can’t prevent that kind of cold from permeating just about anything you do, even a plastic cover. It’s the risk/reward of being a Japanese maple owner. And to me the reward far out ways the risk of having them damaged.
We planted a Japanese Maple 2 years ago, and the top 4 inches had no leaves, Last year, no leaves in the top 10 inches. This year, the bottom of tree has leafed out but not the top 24%. It’s getting taller each year. Is it normal to leaf out on bottom first? Am I just too anxious that something is wrong? It looks like the leaf buds are getting larger on top of tree but still no leaves. We live in Michigan.
There really are only about two things that really upset Japanese maples. Being planted too deep or plant in a wet area, or winter damage. Dead branches up top sound like winter damage. Give it some time and if you determine those branches are dead just cut them back to the healthiest point. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
M. Martin says
I have a 45 year old Japanese Maple that has shed about half of its leaves. The remainder repose on the limbs and curl up and die. I live in North Vancouver, BC. This has been going on for several years. Should I be worried. Usually some more of the leaves will be blown off by heavy rain and high winds during the winter but the rest sit there, Should I be worried?
If this has been happening for more than one year and the tree did fine the following spring, I wouldn’t be concerned. Not really much you can do even if it’s a problem. One of mine completely defoliated on one side really early this year. Yes, it concerned/puzzled me, but nothing I can do but wait until spring. In the past I saw this happen and the following year that branch was dead. Once removed the rest of the tree was unaffected and fill in fine eventually. I think all you can do is wait for spring to see what the tree does.
Hi I have a problem a tree timer was taking a neighbors pear tree down and dropped a branch on my inaba shidare taking the top off it I have about 5 inches left of my tree it was about 18 inch high before the accident is there any hope this tree my grow again
Yes, there is hope for your tree. Your tree is grafted onto a root stock. As long as you still have active growth above the graft union your tree will re-grow. It won’t regrow fast, but it will re-grow. You’ll probably want to stake it as it grows until it reaches a height of at least 24″. Then you can clip an inch or so off the top and it will start branching out.
Sarah Verville says
I watched both your video and read you website on Japanese maples. I bought a 2-year graft Japanese maple online not realizing what I was purchasing as I am a very inexperienced gardner. I live in Maine in zone 5b and did some research before deciding what species to buy, I purchased an autumn moon maple but I didn’t realize how tiny it was. This tree was suppose to signify our new baby this year. Now I understand I can’t plant it outside for what maybe a long time. I was just wondering if I did everything correct. I planted in a small pot with organic soil that has no animal fertilizer with it. I am keeping it outside during the day and bringing it in at night. Is this the best method? When will this small tiny twig even begin to resemble a plant? I have been trying to find the answer to this everywhere but I am having no luck! Thanks for the help!
I think you are doing it all wrong. A 2 year old Japanese maple would be much happier planted in the ground. I plant them out all the time. What it really needs for the next couple of years is some shade. But keeping it inside is not a good plan. It needs to go dormant. Just plant it in the ground, not in a wet area. Water as needed but don’t allow the soil to get wet and soggy. Don’t fertilize it, just give it time to grow and develop. It should be fine over the winter, but I can’t guarantee that depending on the variety. But I’ve grown thousands of them and they all have been outside, never inside. More here http://japanesemaplelovers.com/
Question: I have a 10 foot 4 year old Bloodgood Japanese maple that dried up this summer but new shoots are coming out the bottom. It is in an irrigated location however the larger plants around it may have blocked the water to it. Just wondered if the whole tree will come back next year, if I should cut off the shoots out of the bottom or let them replace what is now a trunk with dried up leaves? Any suggestions appreciated.
It sounds to me like what you are seeing is winter damage. Japanese maples really don’t need that much water so I don’t think that’s it, especially if some irrigation water is getting to the roots. More than likely the part of the tree that is bare is dead. About all you can do is cut it off and let the suckers grow if in fact they are coming from above the graft. If they are deep red in color let them grow. If they are green you might want to pull the entire tree. This is how you test to see if a plant, or a branch on a plant has died. Just scratch the bark of your plants with your finger nail. If the tissue below the bark is green and firm your plants are fine. If the tissue is brown and mushy that part of the plant is dead.
Thanks for the suggestion. It was growing just fine this spring so not sure how it could be winter damage. The leaves are red so I will let the suckers grow out the bottom and keep the tree and see if it grows back next spring. We’ve had super hot temps here this spring and summer. The smaller branches are definitely dead so might prune it back quite a bit.
I have a Sharp’s Pygmy Bonsai and it has started turning reddish orange. I live in Kansas and we had bad weather 2 days ago and I left town for two days. When I came back, my tree started turning reddish orange. I think it is too early for the tree to start turning for winter. I don’t want to lose this tree because I spent a lot of money. What can I do to save the tree or is this normal.
There’s really nothing that you can do or should do. Just keep the tree watered, but make sure it is not planted too deep or being over watered. Being too deep or too wet can be fatal to a Japanese maple. Do not fertilize it.
Jan Detrick says
I received a Japanese Maple two years ago as a gift. It has been doing well; however, there are two branches coming off the main trunk – one 5/8″ and one smaller that are producing a green leaf. This may be the suckers you referred to that should have been removed when they first appeared. Can I cut those off now without killing the tree and when should I do that?
Yes you should remove them and the sooner the better.
Mike, I have become very interested in being a backyard gardener and following you. I started last year by collecting several seedlings from my JM tree. 4 of them are now 12″ high but the rest are just a twig – no buds on them to grow leaves. I had planted them in pots and left them outside over the winter, put them all in a big box and surrounded and covered them with straw. It was a very bad winter, the snow covered them over. Did the buds freeze off? Will they recover by next year or should I throw them out? They do have roots, but are just a twig. Thanks
It doesn’t sound good. Do the scratch test to see if the tissue below the bark is green or not. If not I’d toss them. Cuttings of flowering shrubs are a lot easier to grow and they sell like crazy.
Mike, I have had my maple planted in full sun for about 7 years now and this spring it hasn’t produced any leaves. The trunk looks healthy and it is producing sprouts near the base of the trunk, rather new leaf growth on the trunk proper. How can I save this maple?
The top of your tree was probably killed by winter damage and will not come back. The suckers on the bottom of the tree are either identical to the tree you had, or they could be from the rootstock which means that they are just a rather common, boring type of Japanese maple. Not much you can do, cut off the dead part and then decide whether or not you want to keep what’s left or not.
Ken Wiltsie says
I have a sorry only description is Maple Japanese Red if about 13 years old still only stands about 5 ft tall the trunk is only about 1in thick what can I do to promote growth?
The only thing you can do to promote growth on a Japanese maple is to make the tree happy. Lots of fertilizer would be the WORST thing you could do. Japanese maples like loose soil that drains well. If your tree is struggling I’d guess that the soil is too compacted or worse yet, too damp. You can dig around the tree and raise it, that would help a great deal. But you can only do that while the tree is dormant. Once it leafs out, you can’t touch it until it loses it’s leaves in the fall. Around Thanksgiving. Just raise it up a few inches and back fill over top of the root ball with good soil, then mulch.
I had a beautiful osakazuki and fireglow japanese maple potted on my deck. I forgot to bring them in last winter and both of them didn’t leaf out all spring or summer. It looks like some of the branches are dying off. It there any way of saving them or are the dead?
You’re an awesome gardener, I have learned many things from you! Please tell me what you think about how often I should water my new Fireglow? I just got it and plan on transplanting it next weekend. It’s about 7 feet tall, and it’s absolutely beautiful! Yes, I do keep stepping outside just to stare at it. So I get conflicting advice from local gardeners. I’m in California, zone 10b. Some say when it is newly planted, I should water two times a week. Others say I should water deeply only about every two weeks. What do you think?
What’s most important of all is that you be sure to not plant it too deep. The top of the root ball should be at least 3/4″ to 1″ above grade with about an inch of soil mounded over the root ball. The area in which it is planted hopefully has well draining soil. Put about 2″ of mulch over the soil after planting. DO NOT FERTILIZE the tree. As long as the soil drains well you don’t have to be overly concerned about over watering. So I like the idea of watering twice a week at first, then after a two weeks you can water heavily once every other week. At 7′ tall I recommend staking the tree so the wind doesn’t rock it back and forth. Keeping it stable will allow the new roots to get anchored into the soil. Mixing some well rotted composted or rotted, bagged cow manure is all the fertilize it will need, if it even needs that.
Where can I purchase a verigated maple up here in north east wi .
Fran, In your Wisconsin climate most Japanese maples are not rated for your zone. You still might want to take the chance on a small tree, in that case you’d be best ordering online from any number of nurseries that ship small Japanese maples.
You can dig them and re-plant, but you need to do so before they leaf out.
I have A Bunch of seedlings growing under my red maple tree about two years old, can I remove them in the spring. thank you
How do I wrap my Japanese Maple for the Winter
You can buy tree wrap in a garden center, just follow the instructions on the package. Personally I’ve never wrapped a Japanese maple for the winter, it really offer any winter protection. If you want to protect the tree from deer or rabbits you can buy plastic tree guards.
I think I’ve overwatered my Japanese Maple! It was a gift and still in it’s container on my back porch until we decide the best place to plant it. I’ve watered it when the soil on top feels dry, but notice that the water drains out almost immediately. Today it looks like most of the leaves have turned brown and fallen off – can it be saved????
It’s difficult to over water a plant in a container that is setting on the porch. My guess is that the tree dried out. It’s really difficult to keep container plants watered. I’d plant it right away, more than likely it will be fine. Plants are always happier in the ground than they are in containers.
A dear friend has/had a gorgeous Japanese Maple in her yard. while trimming surrounding trees a limb fell on it and broke it off about 3 foot from ground. 2 1/2″ diameter. will it survive? DESPERATE to help her with any info I can as my husband was doing to trimming. Please HELP!
tamukayama jap maple.
Chances are this tree was grafted at ground level which means that the part that is left will still produce Tamukayma like branches. Unless you train the new growth to grow upright this tree will remain at a height of 3′ to 4′. But in time it will still produce a nice little weeping tree.
I have a Japanese maple that has grown way too large for its space. It is approximately 15 feet high with a 7″ diameter trunk. It branches out into several large limbs about 4 feet from the ground. The tops of the large limbs have been lopped off about 7 feet from the ground resulting in many thin limbs growing straight up from the cut tops. Is there a way to return this tree to the shape it should be? Is it possible to cut it down close to the ground and let it grow into a small tree? Thank you for your help!
You can continue to prune, cut those long skinny branches and eventually the tree will fill in. It clearly was planted in the wrong place. If that doesn’t work you can try cutting it back more. It’s either that or have it removed and that stump will have to be ground, the wood is very hard.
I planted a bloodgood about 10 years ago not realizing how big they get!! It is not reaching a point where it is too big for the spot where it was planted. Needless to say, moving it is not an option. It’s about 15 ft tall. Is it possible to prune the tree in a way that it will not grow any higher or wider….like a large bonsai?
My son had the same problem with his house with a Bloodgood Japanese maple. Last winter we pruned it to about half of the size of what it was and it did just fine.
I have the same problem. I live in a townhouse condo and it has grown too high and I must prune it, but am afraid I will kill it. How do you approach the pruning process when it is too high and how long will it take to recover?
It’s going to take some time to recover, but it will. If you are not sure how to prune it, just do what we did here, or get some professional help. I really don’t what else to offer.
Fabulous – thanks so much!!
Great information! Thank you! I do have a question – I have some Japanese Maple seedling starts that I dug up last spring. They are just one tall trunk and have leaves going all of the way up the trunk. They are doing very well but I’m wondering when they will actually branch out. Should I be removing the lower leaves now? Of course in about 6 – 8 more weeks they will loose all of their leaves for the winter. I’m in Calif zone 9. Thank you. Darlene
I’d just leave them alone for now. They’ll branch in the spring. Many, including me like them as multi stemmed trees so you can allow those lower branches to grow. For a single stem tree just remove the lower branches as they emerge.
Sounds good! Thank you. One more question. One of my seedlings came from an Emperor I and is now about 18 – 20 inches tall and is 2 years old (from my old house). It does appear that it will be the same red leaves as the parent tree. So far the leaves have stayed red on it. Do you think it will be true to the parent tree? I dug the other seedlings up from my workplace and most are all the same shape green leaf but a couple have stayed red but they too are the same shaped leaf. At this point I don’t know what tree the seedlings came from as there are several planted in the same area, mostly all different kinds. Unfortunately they do not get the best care, I can see where the graft tree has leafed out underneath the graft – not really attractive. I now have a house on 5 acres so am having fun planting trees, shrubs and plants. 🙂 Darlene
This is an old post but I’m hopeful you still check back and can help me. Bought a new house with a coral bark maple planted in front, I’m not a gardener but am trying. Anyways, it died this spring. The leaves wilted and turned brown and it lost it’s redness. I snapped off some branches and there was no greenness or softness in them. Now right as I’m about to pull it out to replace it there’s a pretty little red and green leafed maple growing from the roots/base. Any chance this could turn into another good tree? And could I dig the whole thing up and put it in the backyard while it grows so I can put the big tree in that spot? And how did this happen? I’m so sure it’s dead but there’s actual trunk green color down by the roots. :-/
Many of the Coral Bark Maples that I had in the nursery suffered heavy winter damage as well this past winter. If the new growth you see is coming from the graft union of above the graft union it will be identical to the part of the tree you lost. If it’s coming from below the graft union then the new growth would be from the rootstock and could just be a green leaf, rather boring Japanese maple. It’s sounds like what you have is actually growth from the Coral Bark part of the plant. You can move it, but wait until Thanksgiving when the plant is dormant.
Dora Alexander says
We have a Japanese Maple. I used the fertilizer pellets, this planting season. It started to have brown dead leaves a few at a time. Several weeks ago it just all of the sudden…the leaves just went boom brown. We were not aware of the fertilizer pellets, and that they would kill it. My husband paid a lot of money for this tree, and he loves it. Could you please tell me, is it to late? Is there anything that we can do to save it? Thank you Sincerely Dora Alexander
Typically there are only three things that will kill a Japanese maple. 1. Fertilizer. They just can’t use much nitrogen. No fertilizer or Osmocote slow release is the best option. 2. Too wet. They cannot to be planted in wet ground or to be over watered. 3. Too dry. That’s obvious, but if they get too dry you’ll lose the tree. 4. Being planted too deep. This is actually the most common. Being planted too deep is like being to wet. The root ball should be at least one inch above grade.
If you recently planted this tree and one of these things sounds like the problem, just move the tree to a better location and it might leaf back out.
Just read your article and my heart is racing as I remember all the times 10-10-10 has been used around all my old 30+ yo JMs! These trees are so beloved, we had them professionally moved from our old property to our new 9 years ago. These trees have grown remarkably well and are loved by the whole neighborhood. I, also, use Miracle gro on hosta, Crested iris, and mondo grass that are planted underneath two of them. Is 10-10-10 ok but not higher percentages? I am stumped.
All fertilizers are okay in very small concentrations. But deadly when over applied. 10-10-10 releases 10% nitrogen the day it is applied. In the nursery we use a slow release that releases 14%, but slower over a period of 3 to 4 months. The plants in my landscape? They never get fertilized. Not ever. They do fantastic.
Mary Ann says
I have a beautiful Japanese Maple in my front yard. I think it’s about 20 years old. I would like to plant a Hydrangea under the tree on either side. When digging the holes – probably about 18 to 24″ – is it ok to cut the roots of the JM that I am encountering? Thank you for your help!
Cutting small roots is fine, but larger roots you can only cut when the plants are dormant. But you should be far away enough for it not to be a big deal.
Rhonda Suelter says
I have a new small Japanese maple. My friend wants a sapling from it. How can I safely cut from my tree and give to him to grow. Or is this even possible?
Rooting a cutting from a Japanese maple is very difficult. So difficult that I won’t even attempt it. The primary way that Japanese maples are propagated are by grafting. I’ve got a good grafting article on http://freeplants.com
I have a japanese maple that I plated a month and a half ago. I think I planted it to deep and want to mound soil to raise it above the area around it. Could I do that now since it has only been planted a short while. Cheers, Wil
I believe if wrote too quickly. I would like to dig up the tree and raise it by mounding soil and replanting it so that it is higher than the area around it.
Yes, since it’s only been planted a short while you should be able to raise it now. Now is better than later. Later might be too late.
Mike Scharfe says
Great article on caring for Japanese Maples. I need your advise on a problem I am experiencing with my tree. I wish I had read this blog before I tried to fertilize… Anyway, I have a 13 year old JM that is approximately 12 high and 5 feet wide that I planted from a sprig. It has a thick 16″ trunk now, but it did not seem to want to grow much the last couple years so I thought I would use some tree fertilizer spikes I bought a while back. I placed two of them under the drip line and I used a tool to create a hole the ground in order to place the spikes. I know that I broke some thin roots in doing so, but I did not think much of it at the time. Now as the leaves are beginning to grow and fill in, there are several significant branches in the tree that have wilting leaves, while the other branches are producing beautiful deep red leaves. The branches in question are still green when cut. Did I damage the roots or is it the fertilizer spikes that are causing the damage? What should I do?!
Thank you in advance for your time,
With a tree that size the fertilizer spikes should be fine and do no harm. Same with the root damage, I don’t think you did enough root damage to affect the tree, especially just some random branches. At this point I wouldn’t be concerned, if the branches look bad just prune them out. It’s not unsual for Japanese maples to lose an entire branch with little explanation as to why. It’s happened to me, I just cut away the affected branch and the tree fills in nicely.
Hi Mike. I was wondering if you could comment on a young Inaba Shidare Japanese Maple. She was just planted late last autumn and was halfway through her first spring bloom when 90% of her leaves where eaten by cankerworms. I left out of town for a few days and I came back to a broken heart! Will she live? Does she need some some plant food? Maybe you could do an entire post on cankerworms? We have a terrible infestation down in Zone 7/8 North Carolina every year. I didn’t know cankerworms had an appetite for japanese maples.
Thanks a million. Any advice would be appreciated!
You really don’t want to fertilize a plant that is already under stress. More than likely your plant will come back fine, I’d just treat for the canker worms if they are still an issue on this plant. Since I don’t know much about canker worms I really can’t offer mulch else. But just because a plant loses it’s leaves, it usually bounces back nicely.
Thanks Mike. I have treated the canker worms with an insecticide the garden lady at my local nursery recommended. It killed the canker worms so now I will just keep an eye on the tree. I will not fertilize and hope the soil I planted her in last autumn will have enough nutrients to get her through this tough time. Thank you so very much for your advice and I am hoping for the best. I have fallen in love with Japanese Maples — extraordinary species, they are!!! This particular tree is the focal point of my front yard.
Keep up this great website — it is such a wealth of information! 🙂
Well this is 2018 and wonder how your Inaba Shidare fared? Mine went through a different trauma when a huge truck ran over it. I was beside myself and knew it was going to die. It bounced back and it’s lovely. It was about 12 y.o. when she was basically uprooted and was laying on it’s side and am so thankful she lived.
Where can I buy thousands of Japanese seedling wholesale
In the New England area ? If None, who is the cheapest including the shipping elsewhere ?
I have a number of wholesale sources that we use and an awesome source of rare Japanese maples in New England. Check the wholesale directory that comes with my system. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2013/03/how-to-make-65%C2%A2-per-square-inch-in-your-backyard/
We have a beautiful Japanese Red Maple in our front yard. Earlier this summer, my husband found a tiny sapling growing under the tree. He planted it in a pot with some soil and mulch and it’s growing very, very tall, but not branching out. It grows a set of two leaves, then grows a little taller and grows another set of two leaves and has continued to grow this way until it is now about 14 inches tall. Is this how it should be growing? What should we do to keep it alive and healthy through the winter, here in the northeast?
That sounds normal. The tree would probably be happier in the ground, especially for the winter. Next spring it will start to make some lateral branches and you can trim it as desired to get it to fill out. Cutting the top now would force some lateral branching as well. It needs to be outside for the winter where it can go dormant and rest.
Thanks for the suggestions. We were thinking along these same lines, but just weren’t sure if that was the right thing to do. I can’t wait to see how it fares through the winter now. Thanks again!
Thanks for the suggestions, Mike. We were thinking along the same lines but just wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do. I’m looking forward to see how it will fare through the winter now. Thanks again!
Japanese maples says
Many thanks for the exciting blog posting! I really enjoyed reading it..
Great help.. thanks
Mark @ Bonsai Dojo says
Great article Mike, unfortunately i once got a little overzealous with a Japanese Red Maple bonsai i was growing and got some normal fertiliser to it. The good news is i managed to save it, after some hard work to bring it back (it was an old plant so didnt want to let it go) and have grown many since 🙂
Really curious — but if 14-14-14 fertilizer is going to be too Nitrogen rich, won’t the same be true of fish fertilizer? I can only find it in either the same balanced/equal percent or with even higher Nitrogen percent and lesser of the remaining two.
I have 6 beloved potted lace leafs that I’ve grown since I weeded them out of a friends yard as seedlings. And they desperately need food but it seems I should wait to repot until fall or early, early spring.
thanks for your informative site!
Keep your plants watered, repot them this fall, fertilize with Osmocote in the spring. Don’t fertilize them this fall, you want them to slow down and get ready for winter. The Osmocote might also be 14-14-14 but it’s slow release and will take many months to release that 14% of nitrogen. Garden fertilizer might release it all the next day.
Thanks Mike – I thought from the article above that fish fertilizer was being recommended as a good “between” option; not too Nitro rich. And possibly something I could apply during growth months.
Some of my trees are blooming w/ the red color, a couple others are not red this year so I assumed they are nutrient-low. I’ve not repotted in many years, so thanks again for the tips!!
I had a coral bark Japanese maple planted in a large container on my back patio for about two years. This spring it didn’t come back so I pulled it out and planted a “Red Select” Japanese maple in the same pot. It’s still very small and the top has a nice amount of red, lacy leaves. But, I’ve noticed two small coral bark maple branches now growing off of the bottom of the trunk! I’m not sure how this happened, it’s like they self-grafted. Is it something I should worry about or just leave alone? Thanks very much!
What you are probably seeing are branches from the rootstock. I’d remove them as soon as they appear.
I’m sorry about the name, I was looking at one of the earlier posts and the name stuck in my head!
I found a free Japanese Maple on local craigslist. It is about 2.5′ tall. I went to dig it but gave up when I saw it. The trunk is about 6″ diameter. The new owner told me previous owner have cut it back to the ground. The 2.5′ branches are new grow after that cut.
I gave up because i don’t how long it will take to dig a tree like that big and also I am not confident it will survive from this dig.
I have two questions for you:
1. how long it will take for a Japanese Maple to have a 6″ trunk?
2. New grow branches from old big cut back tree will grow much faster than normal tree branches? I found Rhododendron behavor like this.
Digging a Japanese maple with a trunk like that would be very, very difficult. The wood of Japanese maple, even the roots, is very,very hard and difficult to cut with a shovel or a spade. That tree would have to be at least 10 years old would be my guess, maybe older.
Janet Egnor says
I trimmed my Japanese maple as per your instructions and it is sprouting nicely but I have the red Lacey leaves xbx then the top has solid green leaves I have finger pruned but I don’t think these leaves will turn lacy. What should I do.
Those green leaves must be coming from a sucker that is growing from below the graft union. It should be removed if the entire branch is producing green leaves. Does it get enough sun? All leaves will be green in the shade.
I planted a Red Japanese Maple standard about 2ft away from a vinyl fence that is about 6ft tall. I did this 1 1/2 years ago to provide privacy. I was told from the nursery that it was fine for the fence line me it. It seems that it is going to branch quite a bit before clearing the fence. Is this tree ok where it is or should I move it.? I have 2 Yellow Maples in my front swell and my neighbor put clover killer on the ground close and now the tree looks dark on the branches, very sick. We have water it a lot. Any chance it might live?
I’d move the maple tree out a few feet, but not until Thanksgiving. You can’t move it during the growing season. Be careful to not over want the other two maples. Too water will kill them for sure.
We have a beautiful 25 year old Japanese Maple. This year we applied 10 10 10 fertilizer. We had heavy rain this past weekend and now we notice lots of leaves dropping. Too late we see your warning about applying too much nigrogen.
What can we do? Will we lose the tree…is there anything you would recommend.
Other than removing what fertilizer you can, I’m not sure there’s much else you can do but wait and hope for the best.
We are just getting started with the Backyard Growing System. We have a couple of approx. 35-year-old Japanese Maples already in our landscape. Can we start taking cuttings from them or should we plant new ones and start from scratch? I don’t know offhand what kinds they are, but I could research and try to find out.
Thanks so much!
Japanese maples are difficult to do from cuttings. The generic variety, just a regular Japanese Red maple can be grown from seed, but they would not be, nor could they be labeled as Bloodgood since they are grown from seed. Most desired varieties are budded or grafted, most are grafted. Most of us leave the grafting to somebody else, somebody with a greenhouse, and we just buy small plants from them and grow them on.
Since you don’t know the variety of your Japanese maples I would just collect seeds from your trees. You can always sell the seeds, we always have people looking for Japanese maple seeds. If you go to http://japanesemaplelovers.com/ you can learn a great deal about Japanese maples.
Mike has a newbie I cannot wait to get hold of some Japenese Maples seed.
Can you advise me of the best way I can get success out of them.
The instructions mention chilling them but don’t give the right way of doing them.
I live in England, in the Midlands and at the moment we are running a month behind on the weather.
Thank you Terry.
Terry, details are here http://www.freeplants.com/free-article-japanese-maples-from-seed.htm
Why would one of my maples die after seven years in the ground with no problems? I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary to them.
Severe winter damage, possibly a blight, possibly stem damage from mulch too high or critters like mice chewing the bark, or sometimes it just happens. That’s why I have so many in case I lose one.
How often should i fertilize my japanese maple with the fish emulsion?
I never fertilize my Japanese maples in my landscape. They don’t need it. They need good soil that drains well and from there I just leave them alone except regular pruning. Plants know what to do. The only time they need fertilizer is when we mess up their natural environment by putting them in a container or some other crazy idea.
robert gardner says
enjoyed reading all the comments on Japanese Maples. I have collected seeds from several different types and have had several of them sprout, not all but some. I also have over 35 different types of these great plants growing in my yard. Some are in the ground but many are in BONSAI POTS. The ones that I like the best are Beni komo no su (red spider web), Ryusen, and Little Fingers. I/live in Snohomish Washington so the weather is just great for these plants.
robert gardner says
enjoyed reading all the comments on Japanese Maples. I have collected seeds from several different types and have had several of them sprout, not all but some. I also have over 35 different types of these great plants growing in my yard. Some are in the ground buy many are in BONSAI POTS. The ones that I like the best are Beni komo no su (red spider web), Ryusen, and Little Fingers. I/live in Snohomish Washington so the weather is just great for these plants.
That’s awesome! I’ve got a lot of different Japanese maples in the nursery and I actually buy a lot of them from one of my customers.
Hey Robert, I’m interested in your Japanese Maples, I live in Anacortes. Please contact me.
robert gardner says
What a great place Anacortes is. there must be many nursery’s around you.. I have gotten most of my trees from the internet. Japanese maples and evergreens is the site used most of the time. Also met a very nice sales person at Molbacks in Woodinville and he would order trees just for me, I did the research and he would order them for me. Sorry about the late answer but I just found it.
There are several website for Japanese Maples with a host of information on them and I have used most of them. I have gotten trees from New York State, California, Colorado,Oregon, and south Dakota.
GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR SEARCH
Rebecca S. says
I have a Japanese Maple that I’ve had for about twelve years and love it. Two years ago I found a small one growing in between my azaleas that are near it. Not sure if it grew from seed or from a root. I left it there until it got a good three feet then moved it. It’s doing great and is now about five feet tall but wondering if it will be like my original one? Thanks!
The Japanese maple that you found growing will be a generic Japanese maple and will not be an exact clone of the parent plant. Will it be similar? That’s anybody’s guess, all you can do is watch and see.
I have about 60 varigated maple trees that grow to about 25 feet high. Can I use the Varigated maple seedlings as root stock for grafting Japanese maples, I have several different species of Japanese maples in my yard.
I’m going to assume that your variegated maples are not in the Japanese maple family and therefore cannot be used as a root stock for grafting Japanese maples to. You have to graft Japanese maple to Japanese maple.
Nancy Yates says
To Dalce,: I found a solar powered animal deterrent that keeps them away. It only cost about $20 and I am trying to remember where I got it so I can buy another one.I recommend it highly!
Grafting has to be done at the right time or they will not take….once the plants are blooming it is too late for grafting this year. Mike has an excellent video on grafting on his website.
Both tomatoes and pepper plant can be planted deep and the stems will sprout roots. The tomato plants will sprout all along the plant because they are viny plants, while the peppers will sprout at each node (where the leaves and branches sprout from) be careful not to overwater on the peppers or they will rot the stems off. I also encourage you to prune tomatoes and pepper right above a good leaf node to encourage branching. This makes for more compact and stronger bushes that are not so prone to blow over or grow out the top of the cage later on in the summer.
You can protect small vegetable plants by planting them inside a plastic soda cup with the bottom cut out. This will prevent cut-worms form gaining access to the plant and prevent rabbits from munching on them until they get a good root system established and ready to put on top growth. I use this every year and it has reduced my rabbit losses to almost nothing. You can leave the cups on the plants until you pull the plants in the fall and then reuse them next year. If you break a cup, no big deal just throw it away and get another next time you buy a fountain soda. When the plants are small you can fill the cup with water for watering and it will seep into the ground right on top of the plant where you want it. I also put my slow-release fertilizer inside the cup so the food goes directly on to my plant and is not wasted on surrounding soil and weeds.
Mary Priest says
Please help! I have a 5 year old lilac in my yard that has never had more than one or two blooms a year…What can be the matter ??? The leaves are gorgeous and I have tried pruning a little and sometimes a lot in winter..Fertilizer doesn’t help and not fertilizing doesn’t either. It is in a sunny/partial sunny area and I don’t let it get watered as much as it’s neighbors in summer…Thanks in advance. Mary
My advice is to just ignore this plant. Plants are like pre programed little robots. They are hard wired to make leaves, branches, flower buds, repeat. I think if this plant is getting enough sunlight and is left alone, it will eventually make flowers. Really, that’s all it knows how to do. Plants really don’t like us tampering with them.
I too was made aware of Epsom Salts’ value in gardening but don’t know the details of where, when, & how to use.
Will look forward to our replies.
My son is eager to graft “something” right away. 😉
His interest gives me great pleasure! I’ll show him this blog & introduce him to Mike’s volumes of articles!!!
Does anyone else mix 1 tablespoon of Epsom Salts in the bottom of the holel when deep planting a tomato? I’ve done it for years, but forget where I got that info.
Mike Beasley says
Mike, I have a Japanese Maple in my yard and every year it starts out looking so good, but toward the end on the summer I get these little black spots on the leaves. Do you know what causes this or know what I need to control this? Thanks, Mike
Mike, could be one of the two things. If you water a Japanese maple when the sun is out the water droplets can burn the leaves. Or just plain sun damage. Japanese maples like a little shade. All mine look a little haggard by the end of summer, but still magnificent to have around.
I have two gorgeous Japnese Maples that were planted by a previous owner, probably 15 years ago. Unfortunately they are in an area of the yard that we never see. Can one be moved? Will that kill it? Does it have to be done by a professional? When?
Thanks for any advice.
Your Japanese maple can be moved, but it must be done when the plant is still dormant. It’s either too late or getting close to being too late this spring to move it. Of course the size of the tree will determine how much effort it will take to move it. On https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/ I have at least one of not more posts about digging and or moving trees.
I would never use “garden fertilizer” on my vegetables! Anything 14-14-14 can’t be organic. Only compost, fish emulsion, or sea weed fertilizer for my plants diet, because my plants diet is my diet!
If it is a true species it can grow a reasonable tree, but if it is a grafted tree, no. It is grafted because the root stock of the ornamental part (the top) is probably not hardy.
helen gardner says
Will seedlings that drop from a Japanese Maple make a strong tree? I see that most are grafted but mine just fall from my lovely tree.
I would very much like to find a video or see one that covers propagating the Japanese maples I have several varieties and love them!
You can find all of that on my Japanese maple site. http://japanesemaplelovers.com/
I have a 22 year old Japanese maple growing beautifully by my pool and the base is covered with Ivy and other ground cover. The problem is the spiders have started nesting aggressively in the Ivy. I am having all the ground cover removed, and that will bring the maple mound back to its original base. Will the Japanese maple be fine without any ground cover at its base?
I really don’t see why it would affect the tree, especially if you remove the ivy in the fall to give the bark of the tree some time to acclimate before it sees intense sun.
Very informative. I have three japanese maple trees that were given to me by my neighbors. They are all doing well and I too love to admire them. Thanks for sharing your knowledge Mike.
Would lawn fertilizer do this as well? Or the broadleaf spray my husband uses on the lawn? Something has killed the top of my beautiful weeping Japanese maple, it is about 15 years I would guess. Thanks if you have any advise.
Lawn fertilizer applied right the tree itself would not be good, but just fertilizing the lawn won’t do damage. It’s possible that your tree froze back last spring. Many did. It should come back in time.
sunflower acres says
Great information, thank you. I just planted 6 two foot tall Japanese Red Maples (just starting to bud) in a raised bed with nice loose soil, and piled dry leaves around them for mulch. Then watered them and put chicken wire cages around each one. Last night it poured rain. We got about 2 inches! Today light snow is expected in NE. Will they be all right?
Thank you for the all wonderful articles. They are very informative and always a pleasure to read. Is it possible for you to do an update on some of the past videos or articles you’ve done? You once did a trimming video of a forsythia or an update on your coral bells you planted last year. You’ve made such wonderful videos I would be curious to see an update on some of the past articles.
Thank you and please keep up the great work.
Thanks for asking and thanks for reminding me. I need to do that but I do forget. I’ll try and do the forsythia right away. The coral bells we need to wait for them to break dormancy so they look good. Lots of good info to share on both topics.
Is it too late to start Japanese Maple cuttings this year?
It just started blooming?
Can you put a red maple root stock on Japanese Maple?
Japanese maples are difficult to do from cuttings. With some varieties it can be done, but I don’t even try. It’s more predictable for me to buy them grafted from somebody that specializes. I have a customer that I’ve bought thousands of dollars worth of Japanese maples from. And no, the rootstock for a Japanese maple has to be a Japanese maple seedling.
I really enjoyed this article, since my wife and I just recently purchased a Burgundy Lace Japaneses Maple.
After buying a tiny Japanese Maple and babying it thru the drought last year I was so happy to see the tiny leaves on it about a week ago. A few days ago I checked on the tulips I have planted in the same bed and was horrified to see that about 8 inches of the 11 inch tree was cut off at an angle like you would cut a rose! I have no idea how this happened! I was sick over it but took the top inside and put it in a glass of water. The leaves have opened and I was hoping and praying for a little root. Is there ANY hope of that? The 3 inches in the ground below the cut are forming new leaves so I think it will survive.
Rabbits will do that. They really don’t like them, but they don’t know that until they bite the top off. Chances of getting roots in a glass of water are really, really slim to impossible. The chances of the bottom part of the tree growing out nicely are really good.
I’m in southern calif. Last year I bought 4 Japanese maples. Planted three, 2 in full sun, one in partial shade. All three died promptly. I have one left in original container. Am afraid to plant it but must if it is to survive. I have clay soil. Any advice on planting this tree?
Thanks in advance!
At least partial shade. Southern California sun is too much for Japanese maples. But the clay is almost as bad. Make sure you are not planting too deep, a bed raised with good soil would be so much better, no fertilizer and be careful to not over water it.
Thanks for your prompt reply…you must be a very busy man. Good for you, I find all of your materials extremely interesting, and if it weren’t for my age, I would invest in your backyard gardening system. I putter and have some raised beds with flowers and vegetables, but it takes time as you well know. Thanks again!
You are a Servant to/for Nature. This is Wonderful.
Nature looks and sounds incredible.
Birds are chirping outside my window.
Ref: Plants & Roots: As long as we don’t choke and stifle its growth. Your right…we all need oxygen….and we don’t want to drowned.
But tomatoes are not ornamental plants…you can plant tomatoes deep and they will grow roots along the buried stem, thereby making a stronger plant, and more fruit. Grafted plant, like Japanese maples, and dwarfs fruit trees, must be planted above the graft line to avoid the issue Mike was talking about…
Hi Mike; I just planted my veg. garden for the summer and the planting directions for the tomatoe plant states that it should be planted way below the stem of the plant. This will generate more roots from the stem. So, I am thinking everything does not have to be planted an 1″ above the ground.
CHARLES HULETT says
HES TALKING ORAMENTAL TREES HERE AND TREES IN GENERAL –TOMATO PLANTS DO BENEFIT FROM THE ACTION YOU DESCRIBED
Tomato plants are different in that way. Generally this deep planting does not apply to most plants.
Hi Andy, Mikes right. The old adage “Plant ’em high, they’ll never die” serves well for more anything. Tomatoes are a bit different, especially if you buy the plant rather than plant by seed. So yes, plant the stem deep and it will root better. Also, I snip away one of the leaders, if there’s two. Cage them up and they’re ready to role. I also build a ‘well’ around the cage, about 18″ wide. So I can water them deep. I usually fill up the well on each of them and by the time I’m done, the water has seeped in on the first one, and I do it one more time. This is great when they are branching out. Afterwards, i find if I water too much the tomatoes are not as tasty, so once the fruit comes in I don’t over water.
Madeleine Dewar says
Andy, I do that 3 times every spring. I take the small plant, remove all but the top two leaves and bury it in a gal container, then after its about 18″ I repeat the whole process into a 5 gal pot and again into the ground or 15 gal pot depending on the year. Living in S TX its vital that my veggies get consistent moisture and tomatoes work best with deep roots. Unfortunately most plants don’t grow roots all along their stems like tomatoes.
Pls. tell me how to plant cutting from Japanese maple
Growing a Japanese maple from cuttings is not easy, but it’s not impossible. Best method would be softwood cuttings in June or July using this http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
Do you have to use a Japanese maple as root stock or can you use other types like dogwood for grafting ?
You have to use a Japanese maple seedling in order to graft Japanese maples. http://freeplants.com/graft-japanese-maples.html
mike, a friend of mine has/a gorgeous jap maple. while trimming limbs on suurounding trees on fell on it, breaking it about 3 1/2 foot up the 2″diameter trunk. can this be saved?? DESPERATE TO HELP HER, as my husband was the one teimming limbs. Help! please.
The understock MUST be the same genus as the scion. So, yes…it should be a green japanese maple, Acer palmatum.