Ask a Question forum: Small Maple Tree possibly died overnight (?) Please help/see pic

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Michigan
BabyMaple44
Mar 14, 2018 7:35 PM CST
Hi all, my nephew and I planted a maple seed (potted) at the end of last summer, and it seemed to be doing okay. I make sure it gets light on my window sill, put it in the same spot in my room every night, etc. About 3 nights ago the soil looked very dry, so I watered it the following morning. I let the water run thru to the bottom as always, until it started dripping, and then stopped. The only thing I did differently this time was not use sink water that was poured into a cup, directly from the sink. I found a squirt bottle from many years ago and washed it thoroughly, VERY thoroughly, including the nozzle before filling it with water/sink water. The water sat in it overnight, and then I used that water to water it...and I didn't even use the nozzle anyway since I just took it off and poured the water directly from the main squirt bottle part. The next day, it looked like this. Any idea what the problem could be? The leaves are curling up and turning black. The bottom leaves are curling down. Tree is very dry, but soil is moist. Please help if you can, see pic.
(Side note: I even TASTED some of the water that was in the squirt bottle, and it just tasted like plain water. I keep thinking there was something bad in there from before, but again, I really, really cleaned it out well.) Thanks! Just tell me what I should do. It has looked like this since Monday, and seems worse today. Not one healthy leaf left, all either curled or black (or both). Thanks again.
Thumb of 2018-03-15/BabyMaple44/0e3ad8

[Last edited by BabyMaple44 - Mar 14, 2018 7:40 PM (+)]
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Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Mar 14, 2018 8:54 PM CST
Hi and welcome to NGA!

It looks like it got dried out. Was it directly in the air flow path of a heat register or perhaps a cold draft from the window?
"The Universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. It speaks in the language of hope; It speaks in the language of trust; It speaks in the language of strength, and the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. But always, it is the same voice. It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us, And the voice of our inheritors, waiting to be born. It is the small, still voice that says: We are one. No matter the blood; No matter the skin; No matter the world; No matter the star; We are one. No matter the pain; No matter the darkness; No matter the loss; No matter the fear; We are one. Here, gathered together in common cause. we agree to recognize this singular truth, and this singular rule: That we must be kind to one another, because each voice enriches us and ennobles us, and each voice lost diminishes us. We are the voice of the Universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future. We are one."

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Michigan
BabyMaple44
Mar 15, 2018 4:20 AM CST
Xeramtheum said:Hi and welcome to NGA!

It looks like it got dried out. Was it directly in the air flow path of a heat register or perhaps a cold draft from the window?


Hi, thanks so much for answering.
Yes, below my window sill is a heat register, it runs along the bottom of my wall. That's always where I've put it for the last year to get some light during the day, on my window sill. But that is also right by my window, and it could have gotten a chill. (Strong winds blowing off the lake from that direction.)
My plan is to put it in a larger pot, for starters. The day I woke up and saw how awful it looked, I immediately took it out of the pot and started fresh (I was convinced something about that water bottle must have made it go downhill.) The roots were all smashed up at the bottom of the pot, as if they simply outgrew the pot itself. So I put it in new soil, and just let it rest overnight. Then I added a little water the next day. My mom had been adding a little liquid fertilizer to the water during the last few waterings, but to be honest, I didn't think it needed it. Bottom leaves started to look a little crunchy with that green fertilizer.
I just feel like repotting it into a bigger pot, getting it some fresh organic soil with not too much fertilizer, giving it a little water, and leaving it alone. In the past I've learned that sometimes the more you mess with a plant or tree, the worse it does. Just tell me if you think I have a good plan, or if I should just let it be for a while, not give it so much light (maybe the vent or draft as you've said) - or whatever you think I should do, I'll do it. I don't want it to die, I want to do the best thing. Thanks again, I'll do nothing until I hear what I should do. I always turn to this site when I'm unsure what to do when growing things. Smiling


[Last edited by BabyMaple44 - Mar 15, 2018 4:22 AM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Mar 15, 2018 5:10 AM CST
Welcome!

Sorry you are having problems with your maple. I think it's unlikely the water bottle was the problem, it may just have been that it got watered too late. It may be shedding its leaves to save itself (because the leaves use the most water), or it is shedding its leaves because normally a maple has a period of dormancy during cold temperatures in winter. Some deciduous plants don't do well if deprived of their winter cold dormancy period.

Unfortunately replacing the soil and fertilizing it were not the right things to do because that makes it even harder for it to take up water. About all you can do is keep the potting mix damp but not wet (I hope you used potting mix and not garden soil) and keep your fingers crossed. Does it look like there are any new buds at the base of the leaf stalks?
Michigan
BabyMaple44
Mar 15, 2018 7:52 AM CST
sooby said: Welcome!

Sorry you are having problems with your maple. I think it's unlikely the water bottle was the problem, it may just have been that it got watered too late. It may be shedding its leaves to save itself (because the leaves use the most water), or it is shedding its leaves because normally a maple has a period of dormancy during cold temperatures in winter. Some deciduous plants don't do well if deprived of their winter cold dormancy period.

Unfortunately replacing the soil and fertilizing it were not the right things to do because that makes it even harder for it to take up water. About all you can do is keep the potting mix damp but not wet (I hope you used potting mix and not garden soil) and keep your fingers crossed. Does it look like there are any new buds at the base of the leaf stalks?


Hi and thanks for the welcome. Thumbs up
Yes, I used regular potting soil. And I also wanted to add that right before I watered it (before things went south) - the soil it was already in seemed very hard. Almost like a rock. (I tend to be an over-waterer, so I always make sure the soil is indeed dry before I water again.)
Okay, so you're saying keep the soil moist, but should I let the water run all the way thru to the bottom until it drips? Or just keep the top/middle of soil moist and not give it a full watering?
Thanks so much for your advice and any further advice, I appreciate it so much. I don't see any new little leaves or buds starting at the moment, the stem looks okay, just all the leaves look like they took some sort of beating. Thanks again
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Mar 15, 2018 8:45 AM CST
The pot looks (and pictures can be deceiving) a bit big for the plant, and it also looks to be filled a little too high with potting mix which makes it harder to water. One thing to be careful of is that if the potting mix gets too dry, especially if peat-based, you can water but all the water will run out of the bottom of the pot without being absorbed. If that happens the best thing is to set the pot in a tub of water until it has rehydrated. I don't know if that's your situation but I wouldnt even go so far as to say keep it moist, I would just keep it from drying out too much while the plant doesn't have living leaves. Can I ask why you are keeping it indoors in a pot? It would be happier outside, depending on species and hardiness zone.
Michigan
BabyMaple44
Mar 15, 2018 9:50 AM CST
sooby said:The pot looks (and pictures can be deceiving) a bit big for the plant, and it also looks to be filled a little too high with potting mix which makes it harder to water. One thing to be careful of is that if the potting mix gets too dry, especially if peat-based, you can water but all the water will run out of the bottom of the pot without being absorbed. If that happens the best thing is to set the pot in a tub of water until it has rehydrated. I don't know if that's your situation but I wouldnt even go so far as to say keep it moist, I would just keep it from drying out too much while the plant doesn't have living leaves. Can I ask why you are keeping it indoors in a pot? It would be happier outside, depending on species and hardiness zone.


We originally planted it outside last summer (from just the seed) - and as soon as it sprouted and had a few little leaves, a squirrel or something else came and chewed off the whole top. So I immediately potted it and brought it inside. The pot it's in is about 6 inches high, and the baby tree is also 6 inches high. I just was concerned about how the roots were already growing out of the bottom holes and so close to the bottom of the pot. As for not putting it outdoors right now, it's because it's just too darn cold here in MI! The high during the day is only about 35 degrees F (and it's still snowing off and on) and at night it drops down to around 25 degrees. Simply not warm enough - and it would be quite a shock to it anyway, going from my warm room to such cold temps outdoors. The plan is to plant it outside if it could just get big and strong enough (and when the weather warms up) - but as of now, the safest place is right here with me. Okay so I will keep the soil moist and more importantly soft, lay off the fertilizer, and just let it rest and (hopefully) recover. Would you recommend putting it in the bathroom and letting the shower run for a while so it could get a little humidity in the air? Would that help at all? Thanks so much for your help so far. Thank You! Crossing Fingers!

[Last edited by BabyMaple44 - Mar 15, 2018 9:52 AM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Mar 15, 2018 10:47 AM CST
No definitely don't put it outside right now, it's not used to the cold. I was just wondering why it was indoors in the first place and you've explained that. It doesn't need the humidity of a bathroom. It would be better on a windowsill facing east or north at this point until it recovers. A cool room would be better if you have one, and try not to keep the potting mix moister than just very slightly damp.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Mar 15, 2018 1:40 PM CST
Maples do not fare well indoors because they require cold winter temps, but it is too late for that now.
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Michigan
BabyMaple44
Mar 16, 2018 9:09 AM CST
GOT IT. Thank you, and will keep you updated!
Thanks so much. I agree Thumbs up Thank You!

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