Browning Japanese Maple - Knowledgebase Question

fife, WA
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Question by gto6t7
October 13, 1998
I purchased a Japanese maple for my wife as a birthday present in june. Everything was fine until
an unusual hot dry spell. The ends of the leaves turned brown. I thought that it was due to the heat,
but in the last 6 weeks the weather has turned wet, and even the five or six buds that got leaves have the
same thing happenig to them. For about the first 8 to 10 weeks it was in the same planter pot
it came from the nursury in. Then we transplanted it to a much larger cut off barrel. No improvement
from the plant but no worse either. Branches seem to be flexable as if they are getting water.
During the hot dry time we watered every day, and tried to keep the afternoon sun shaded from
to some degree thinking that it was the heat and sunshine that was hurting it. I hope this helps.
Am I going to see improvement from this plant and how or what can I do to help?

Answer from NGA
October 13, 1998
Your plant is exhibiting classic symptoms of maple leaf scorch, a cultural problem. It shows up most often when we experience hot, dry summer weather. Usually what happens is that the leaf tissues cannot keep up the the rate of evaporation when the air temperature is high. To conserve moisture, the leaf margins are sacrificed so the remainder of the leaves can continue the process of photosynthesis. The new growth next year should be symptom-free. If the leaves show these symptoms during a normal summer, it indicates a salt build up (from overfertilizing). To complicate matters, you may have been overwatering; plan to supply only about one-inch of water per week to your tree. Additional stress may have come from transplanting, and the adjustment to your tree's new home. Give your tree an opportunity to become established and it should be just fine. To help your maple maintain health during the winter months, make sure it gets adequate water if there's not enough natural rainfall, and be sure to rake up and remove any fallen leaves at the end of the season.

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