The Q&A Archives: Training a Damaged Japanese Maple

Question: We have a Japanese Lace Leaf Maple tree, 3 yrs old, that appears to be dead at the top. It is, however, putting off
new leaves at the bottom. The tree is approximately two
feet high. How and when should we be pruning?

Answer: You can prune it now, or a little later in spring when sap flow is slower. Remove the dead trunk about a 1/4" above the new growth, and train the new growth to stakes so that one of the new branches can serve as the main trunk. Next year at this time, choose one of the trained branches as the new central leader, and prune off the other. The other option is to replace the tree entirely, but in either case, protect it with some kind of cone or other structure for the winter. Hope this helps!

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