The Q&A Archives: Coral Bark Maple - Too much sun?

Question: I have a newly planted Coral Bark Maple that the very top leaves are starting to burn. The planting instructions said

Answer: I think your tree is probably suffering some transplant shock and possibly also too much sun. The indication for partial shade in southern climates is an indication that the plant does not tolerate extreme heat very well -- and your area is a bit borderline on that score. ALso, summer is the most stressful time to plant becuase it is the hottest part of the year and also tends to suffer dry spells.

I would have suggested a spot in full sun most of or all morning (six hours of direct sun including noon is technically considered a full sun location) or a very bright dappled light all day with maybe a little more direct sun in the morning, but I would not plant it in afternoon-only sun or full sun all day. I have seen plants able to tolerate that, but it takes some careful siting and also some adjustment time. It would be better in full sun on say a cool northern slope than on a hot west or southern slope, or near concrete or a building reflecting heat onto it.

If planted in full sun all day, it is really important that the soil be organic and humusy and stay evenly moist but without becoming saturated or sopping wet. This is a shallow rooted plant that needs both air and moisture at the roots.

At this point, since it is newly planted, it might be better to move it to a better spot or provide it some afternoon shade (eg a patio umbrella will do) and then move it this fall. If you are determined to keep it where it is, shade it in the afternoons for the rest of this summer, keep the soil evenly damp but not sopping wet, and see if can do better next summer when it is more established. If not, consider moving it in the fall.

In the meantime, careful watering, a flat layer of organic mulch over the root area (do not allow it to touch the bark) and patience are about all you can do. Do not fertilize it as this will stress it more. Good luck with your tree!

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