The Q&A Archives: Why did expensive Japanese Maple die?

Question: I purchased an Emperor I Japanese Maple rated to 30 below, Zone 4 grown by Monrovia for 119.00 2 years ago. I live in a Zone4 region. It died during the second winter after I bought it. It wasn't as cold as 30 below last winter. Why did this expensive tree die?

Answer: I'm sorry you lost your tree. Based on your description I am not certain why your tree died. There are many possible causes for a new tree to die. For instance, winter cold stress (with wind being a strong contributing factor) can kill a tree but so can poor planting practices and/or poor rooting for whatever the reason, late season fertilizing or pruning can contribute to susceptibility to winter damage, winter de-icing salts can cause root damage, hungry voles can devour the roots sight unseen underground, excess moisture around the roots can kill it, there are of course insects, fungal infections and even soil based diseases that can kill a tree as well. If the tree was weakened by stress it would be more susceptible to cold damage, too. It usually takes some detective work to figure out what has happened to a particular tree and often there are several contributing factors. I would suggest you work with your county extension and/or a professionally trained nurseryman to try to determine what happened before you replace it, whether you hope to try again with that tree or plant something else. I should point out that the Monrovia online plant description for this tree Acer palmatum `Wolff` or Emperor I Japanese Maple indicates it is hardy only into zone 5. When you approach the colder end of a plant's range, it is always a good idea to plant it in a sheltered microclimate and mulch heavily in late fall, especially during the early years while it is not yet fully rooted and established. I'm sorry I can't be more specific for you long distance but I hope this helps you begin your research efforts into understanding what may have happened.

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