The Q&A Archives: Dried Up/scorched Leaves On Japanese Bloodgood Maple

Question: I recently planted a 6 - 7 foot Japanese Bloodgood maple which I purchased from Gaspers Nursery. It looked beautiful and healthy. Within 3 days of planting, all of the leaves seemed to dry up, started to fall - but the limbs seem healthy and remain flexible. None of the leaves uncurled and its been about 13 days since plainting. The tree was well watered, received lots of morning sun, but the leaves may have been watered under a very hot direct summer sun. What should I do? Will the leaves come back? Is there any kind of treatment I can use? Is the tree healthy, or has it been irreparably damaged. Thank you for any suggestion.

Answer: It is possible that the tree is in shock from being planted during the middle of hot summer. Overwatering and underwatering can both cause foliage problems, as can transporting the tree in an open vehicle (the wind at any speed over even a short distance is very drying.) Overfertilizing or using a foliar feed in hot temperatures can also cause leaf problems, as can chemical sprays.

The best thing you can do is be patient and water with care. Your goal in watering is to keep the soil evenly moist but not sopping wet or saturated. You will need to dig down with your finger and check to see if and when you need to water. After watering, wait a few hours and then dig down again to see how far the water has penetrated, it can be surprising. Also check both the soilball and the surrounding soil because they can drain at different speeds if they are of different textures. It is best to water slowly at the roots using a soaker hose type set up rather than with a sprinkler. It is also better to water deeply and less often rather than daily. If you haven't already done so, apply several inches of organic mulch over the root zone, this will help to keep the soil moist and cool and also keep down weeds. Next,do not fertilize the tree now, it will cause additional stress. If the tree continues to deteriorate, I would suggest you consult with the nursery and/or your county extension to make sure there is not something else at work and to maintain your garantee on the tree, if applicable. Good luck with your Japanese maple, with luck it will stop defoliating soon. Finally, if the tree defoliates completely it may be able to recover anyway -- this is a natural method of stress reduction and self preservation so be patient with it.

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