The Q&A Archives: Dead Branches On Mini Japanese Maple

Question: I have a miniature Japanese maple that had beautiful flowing branches.

Last year, the leaves fell early, possibly due to a small diamond shaped moth (white). This year NO leaves returned on the tree, except for one new growth branch.

WHat should I do? Should I cut the dead branches now? Should a wait for a particular season?

Thanks for any help.

Answer: Insect pests can defoliate a tree but it's usually drought stress or disease that makes leaves fall off early. Maples are susceptible to verticillium wilt and symptoms include sudden wilting and browning of leaves, but the affected leaves usually remain on the branches. Without knowing any other details, I think I'd wait to see if new leaves develop a little later in the spring. If no buds develop and no leaves appear, scrape the bark gently to see if you can find green tissue. If not, the branches are dead and should be pruned off. If you do find green tissue leave the branches alone - they may snap out of it and eventually develop leaves. Good luck with your maple!

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