The Q&A Archives: Japanese waterfall maple

Question: I purchased a waterfall maple as a specimen in a pot. The tree itself is about 4 feet tall, planted in a really big pot with adequate drainage holes. I used potting soil to plant. I bought it last winter and then planted in a pot. There were no leaves at all at the time, but this summer came and it really came to life with green beautiful leaves. I have fertilized it with slow release plant food a couple times since planting. Here we are in August and the plant has very few green leaves left. Almost all leaves have turned to brown and are very wrinkily. Have I done something wrong or is it considered fall for it?
It gets watered regularly every other day from a drip system, possibly too much water? The plants location is direct sun light from am to 2:00 pm and then gets shade the rest of the day.

Thanks Carl

Answer: Japanese maples prefer filtered sun or shade most of the day. If you can find a spot that provides a bit more shade, the leaves will be less prone to sunscald. Brown, wrinkled leaves can indicate sunscald and/or fertilizer burn. Plants in containers are quite susceptible to fertilizer build-up, even from slow release granules. Too much water can cause problems which show up on the leaves, as well. Here's what I would do: move the tree to a location that is shaded from sun from at least noon on; water thoroughly, then allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out before watering thoroughly again (you can count the number of days this takes and then reset your sprinkler system so that it waters only that often). Instead of using time-release fertilizer, feed your maple with a water-soluable fertilizer, diluted half-strength and applied every 2-3 weeks during the growing season. Feeding in this way provides an almost constant source of nutrients to the roots of your plant.

Hope this information helps!

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