Bloodgood Japanese maple trees and other species are beautiful ornamental plants that add color and elegance to any garden. However, some things can affect Japanese Maples and cause their leaves to wilt, brown, or die.
Some of these problems are related to environmental factors, such as sun exposure, wind, drought stress, frost damage, or soil pH. Fungal diseases, such as verticillium wilt or root rot, cause others.
If you notice your Bloodgood Japanese Maple leaves wilting, you need to act quickly to identify and solve the issue before it affects the health and appearance of your tree. In our guide, you can learn more about the common causes of Japanese maple leaf wilting and how to plant maples to help prevent dead leaves.
By the end, you’ll learn plenty of tips on caring for the Japanese maple tree you got from the garden center and keeping it healthy throughout the seasons, where new leaves can replace those leaves started to wilt and die. (Read Can You Use A Propane Fire Pit Indoors)
Japanese Maples Leaves Appeared Wilted
A Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is an iconic tree that adds beauty and color to any landscape. Unfortunately, Japanese maples may suffer from wilting leaves, which can be disconcerting for homeowners who have chosen this tree for their landscape.
Whether a young Bloodgood Japanese Maple or an older one, wilting leaves can affect any Japanese maple.
Knowing what to do and when is the key to saving a dying Japanese maple.
Why Leaves Appeared Wilted? Temperatures, Drought, Disease
Temperature can affect Japanese Maples as they are susceptible to frost or being too hot. The maples leaves can curl in cold weather and become brown from late frosts. The tree may also drop some of its leaves because of the extreme temperatures in full sun areas and not have any new leaves growing in their place.
If the damage is severe, dead branches may form on the tree trunk. Drought can cause wilting of Japanese Maple leaves as well. A lack of water for an extended period can cause several problems, including leaf yellowing and drooping, branch dieback, root rot, and even death if not addressed quickly.
Note: Drought stress occurs more often when trees are grown in sandy soil rather than in clay soil. However, you don’t want it planted in pure clay soil. Ensure you add organic matter to make it well-drained soil.
The disease can also play a role in wilting Japanese Maple leaves. These diseases are caused by fungi that attack the tree’s roots or trunk, causing it to weaken over time and eventually die off entirely if left untreated.
Some common fungal disease includes verticillium wilt and phytophthora root rot, which can be identified by discolored leaves that wilt rapidly before turning brown or black, followed by leaf drop and eventual branch death. (Read Will Winter Rye Reseed Itself)
Prevention: Watering, Shade, and Pruning
Watering is one of the most important steps in preventing Japanese maple leaves from wilting. Trees should be watered regularly during the growing season to keep the potting soil moist.
When watering your tree, ensure to saturate the soil around the tree’s roots to a depth of at least 12 inches.
Suppose the temperature and wind increase during summer; more frequent watering may be needed. If a drought occurs, you can also set up an irrigation system for your Japanese Maple to ensure it gets enough water daily.
Adding mulch is a great way to retain moisture, yet keep it away from the trunk, or it could lead to a fungus infection.
Providing shade for your Japanese Maple in gardens is vital in helping prevent wilting leaves because of heat stress and direct sunlight.
Placing a canopy or shading material above your tree can help reduce sun exposure and limit moisture loss from its foliage.
If you don’t have an available canopy option, you can also look into planting other plants nearby that will provide additional shade for your Japanese maple plant.
Pruning is another way to help prevent wilting leaves on a Japanese maple plant by removing dead or damaged branches so that new growth can occur undisturbed and air circulation is increased throughout the plant’s structure.
Pruning should be done when necessary, as over-pruning may cause further leaf damage.
Powdery mildew is another illness they can suffer, and it can hit them in the spring or fall when damp, humid conditions in the day and nights are cool.
Note: any infected leaves or plant parts should be disposed of rather than tossing them onto your compost pile. (Read Japanese Maple Losing Leaves In Summer)
Treatments: Fertilizing, Moisture Control
Fertilizing is essential to keep your Japanese Maple healthy, as a balanced fertilizer can help provide the nutrients for optimal growth.
It would be best to fertilize your Japanese Maple in early spring and again in mid-summer to early fall. Adding a good layer of compost in the spring can naturally add nutrients to the soil.
Using a slow-release or liquid fertilizer is best, as it will provide nutrients without the risk of overfertilizing.
If you notice the leaves are wilting or yellowing, it’s possible that your tree needs more fertilizer than usual to help with its recovery.
Moisture control is also essential for maintaining a healthy Japanese maple. Most varieties prefer evenly moist soil, so check regularly to ensure the soil isn’t too wet or dry.
Avoid getting water onto the leaves, as this can cause damage and increase the likelihood of disease and pests taking hold.
Additionally, if you have a variety of Japanese Maple that prefers more shade than sun, ensure it’s planted in an area where it won’t be exposed to too much direct sunlight—too much sun can cause leaf scorch leading to wilting and discoloration in some varieties.
A layer of mulch around your tree but away from the trunk can keep the soil moist in warmer weather. Mulch can also keep the soil warm in colder parts of the spring.
Insect Infestation: Identifying, Solutions
When identifying why is my Japanese Maple dying, one of the most common causes is insect infestation. Japanese maples are susceptible to this problem because of their delicate leaves and bark.
If you notice your Japanese Maple’s leaves wilting or becoming discolored, it may be a sign that insects have infested them. Taking action quickly to prevent further damage and save your tree is essential. One way to identify an insect infestation on a Japanese maple is by looking for signs such as leaf holes or yellowing foliage.
If you find evidence of an infestation, act fast and treat the tree with an appropriate pesticide solution. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully when applying these chemicals, as the improper application can cause severe damage.
Ensure debris from nearby trees or shrubs is cleared so insects cannot use them as hiding spots. Finally, watch for other signs of distress like excessive leaf drop and branch dieback so you can act accordingly if necessary. (Learn How To Get Rid Of Mushrooms In Mulch)
Fungal Infections: Symptoms, Remedies
Japanese maples are commonly affected by fungal diseases. Symptoms of these fungal infections include wilting, yellowing, and curling leaves, black spots on the leaves, and defoliation.
Master gardeners suggest treating an infected tree with a fungicide spray or soil drench to prevent the further spread of the infection.
Fungicides can be applied in the spring before new growth appears and throughout the growing season as needed. Removing any dead or diseased foliage around the tree as soon as possible is essential to reduce the risk of reinfection.
Pruning out affected branches is another way to help keep a Japanese maple healthy and fungus-free. Avoiding watering late in the day and improving air circulation around the tree can reduce conditions that lead to fungal infection.
Conclusion: Why Are Japanese Maple Leaves Dying?
The reasons why Japanese maple leaves are dying can be found by examining the causes. To ensure your tree’s health, it is essential to maintain soil moisture and provide adequate organic matter for healthy root growth.
If you suspect a lack of water or nutrients is causing your tree’s leaves to wilt, increase watering and add fertilizer or compost to the soil around its roots. In addition, ensure to regularly prune any dead or dying branches and leaves from your tree to encourage healthy new leaf growth.
Young trees in pots for the winter need to be planted in partial shade once the first has gone in the spring. Ensure you have planted them in dappled shade to avoid sun scorch from the sun in the growing season.
With proper care, your Japanese Maple can thrive for many years to come in your garden.