The Q&A Archives: Wilted leaves on Bloodgood Japanese maple

Question: About two months ago I purchased a Bloodgood Japanese Maple and the tree looked beautiful. However, two days ago the leaves just started to curl up (claw like) and look wilted. I currently make sure the tree gets approximately one to two gallons of water every other day. Notably, the tree is planted in topsoil, in conjunction with the traditional rootball and is covered with mulch. Is there anything I can do or has the weather/drought just been affecting this tree? Any other thoughts or comments would als0 be greatly appreciated. Thank You.

Answer: Japanese maples need a soil that is acidic, evenly moist, humusy and organic, yet well drained meaning not soggy or sopping wet. With a new plant, the problem could be related to poor rooting or planting incorrectly (for example too deeply or with encircling roots left intact), or it might be due to soil that is too wet or too dry, or it may be due to overfertilizing (this tree is not a heavy feeder and overfertilizing can cause root damage which will then show as a foliage problem) or some other soil incompatibility. In my experience, with a new tree it is more commonly a transplant/watering problem especially once the summer turns hot and the plants water needs increase. Make sure the soil is slightly damp and water if needed to supplement rain. Dig into it with your finger and see. If it is still damp, do not water yet. When you water, water slowly and deeply and make sure it is soaking in thoroughly throughout the root area. After watering, wait a few hours and then dig down and see how far it soaked in, you want it to go about eight inches as this is a shallow rooted tree. It is better to water less often but deeply rather than a daily light sprinkling. Also, using an organic mulch in a flat layer over the root area will help maintain soil moisture, hold down weeds, and gradually feed the soil as it breaks down over time. I hope this helps you trouble shoot. You might also note that maple leaves can get crispy brown edges during the hottest months of the summer if they receive too much afternoon sunshine. Bloodgood maples generally outgrow this tendency so you may only have to be a little patient with your tree. Best wishes with your landscape!

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