The Q&A Archives: Pale Crimson King Maple

Question: My crimson king maple is about 22 years old. It has always had dark maroon leaves and has always been quite thick with leaves. This spring, the leaves are barely coloured (mostly green with a tinge of maroon), and many branches seem to have no leaves. Other branches are sparsely leaved. It seems to have no other problems, such as insects, and I have noticed several other trees in the area that are rather similar. Is this the sign of an aging tree, or maybe because we had an early hot and dry spring? Is there something I can do to make the leaves more purple, and will it be back to normal next year, or is it beginning to die?

Answer: Your spring weather may have something to do with the coloring of the leaves--the hot, dry weather could have stressed the trees. I would be more concerned about the tree not leafing out fully. Has the weather stabilized--have you gotten plenty of water recently? Sometimes heat and water stress, by themselves, won't harm a tree significantly, but they can weaken it to a point where pests can cause damage. If you have not had rain, I suggest you water the tree very deeply and fully, preferably with a soaker hose or by letting water trickle from a hose. Maple roots tend to be relatively shallow, and cover a large surface area, so try to be sure the soil is moistened deeply out to the tree's drip line. (Hopefully, mother nature has done this for you already.)

Since this sounds like a spectacular, and special, tree, it might be a good idea to consult with a local arborist or other tree specialist, just to be sure you don't have an insect or disease problem.

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