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Avatar for rei901
May 8, 2018 9:08 AM CST

Can you help with a question about our beloved ornamental Japanese maple?

We have a property in Memphis, TN (clay soil) with a mature Japanese maple that was well established when we bought in 2002. The tree used to have brilliant red leaves but its leaves now turn from red to green when the leaves unfold fully and when spring temperatures get above 80. The greening issue began perhaps seven years ago. We have other Japanese maples nearby (planted later in 2004, a different, more upright variety) that stay deep red all season.

The tree has grown at least 30% since 2002. The property was always shady but has become more so. There are large oaks to the northwest and northeast that have become more dense. One side of the Japanese maple gets direct sun between 8-noon, and the other side is in dense shade. The issue is the same on both the sun side and the shade side.

I don't believe the tree has returned to rootstock - the leaves are red when they first appear. I've gotten conflicting advice from tree services. Some say it's the natural result of aging. Some say it's getting too much sun; some say it's not getting enough sun. Some say fertilize it (which we have, with no result); some say it's getting too much food (so we skipped fertilizing, with no result). Some say it's a watering issue, others say its feeder roots are constrained by a nearby driveway (but this driveway is probably 10 feet from the trunk, and the dripline only overhangs the driveway by perhaps 18 inches).

The attached photos were taken this morning. The leaves are the same on both the sun side and the shade side. The leaves will be fully green within the month, I predict. Do you have any advice for me? Thank you!
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Avatar for RpR
May 9, 2018 12:29 PM CST
Name: Dr. Demento Jr.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
Who ever told you it is result of age, is probably the correct one.
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May 9, 2018 5:57 PM CST
Name: Amanda
KC metro area, Missouri (Zone 6a)
Bookworm Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: Missouri Native Plants and Wildflowers Roses
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I agree. I've also heard that when they get older there is a higher chance of them turning green.
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Aug 28, 2018 11:06 AM CST
Name: Daniel Erdy
Catawba SC (Zone 7b)
Pollen collector Fruit Growers Permaculture Hybridizer Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener
Daylilies Region: South Carolina Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Photography Herbs Region: United States of America
How stable are the variegated varieties? will they also revert back to green over time?
🌿A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered🌿
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Aug 29, 2018 12:24 AM CST
Name: Sherry Austin
Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9a)
Birds Bulbs Region: California Dragonflies Foliage Fan Irises
Keeper of Poultry Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2015
I seem to remember that some of the older red varieties didn't hold their color through the summer and "greened out". When Acer p. 'Everred' was introduced, it was so named because it did a better job at retaining it's color than other reds.. I've seen this with a number of other trees and shrubs.

I only have a couple of variegated ones now. My experience with those, and the ones I had in the past, is that they have held their variegation.
The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us.
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Aug 29, 2018 12:32 AM CST
Name: Daniel Erdy
Catawba SC (Zone 7b)
Pollen collector Fruit Growers Permaculture Hybridizer Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener
Daylilies Region: South Carolina Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Photography Herbs Region: United States of America
Thanks Sherry Hurray! I'm glad to know the variegation is stable. Thumbs up
🌿A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered🌿
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