The Q&A Archives: Japanese Red Maple

Question: I purchashed & planted one of your Ever Red Japanese Maple trees in April.
The tips of the leaves have turned brown. It is in a morning & early afternoon sun area.I water every day.
What should I do?
Thanks, Ted Bergman

Answer: Based on your description it sounds like the tree is somewhat stressed. This may be partly due to the weather this year -- a new tree will be less able to handle heat and dry spells because it is not yet fully rooted and established.

This tree needs soil that is organic, humusy, and evenly moist yet well drained. This means damp like a wrung out sponge, never saturated/sopping wet or dried out. Watering daily should not be necessary. Your goal in watering is to keep the soil moist, and the best way to do that is to water slowly and thoroughly appying it at the roots so it soaks down at least six to nine inches. (This is a shallow rooted tree.) After watering, wait a few hours and then dig down to see how far it went; sometimes it can be surprising.

To know if you need to water, dig into the soil with your finger. If it is still damp, do not water yet. It is better to encourage deeper rooting by watering deeply but less often; daily watering encourages extra shallow roots and makes the tree more susceptible to moisture stress.

Also, the tree should be mulched with several inches of organic mulch in a flat layer over the entire root area, but should not touch the trunk. This will help keep the soil cool and moist.

The most important thing you can do for a newly planted tree or a tree that is stressed is water it correctly. Do not fertilize it as this can cause additional stress. If it continues to look worse, you might want to contact your retailer and/or county extension for additional help. Good luck with your Japanese maple!

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