5-year-old *** Maple never grows!!! Please help!! (photo!)

Discussion in 'Maples' started by bkhappyfriday, Aug 7, 2010.

  1. bkhappyfriday

    bkhappyfriday Member

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    Hi everyone!

    I don't know the first thing about gardening, but 5 years ago, in June of 2005, I planted a japanese maple (I THINK it's a bloodgood but I can't recall) from my local ACE Hardware store in my backyard with the help of my grandpa.

    Every single year, this tree grows to about the size in the attached picture...a little bit better actually..with brighter, redder leaves...it lasts for just a couple of weeks, then it looks like in the attached photo, then it gets progressively uglier until the next year when the cycle starts all over again.

    I have no idea why this tree won't grow...but I also don't know anything about proper watering...(how many minutes should I water it for when i do a deep soil watering? how often?) I don't know if there is something wrong with the tree...

    any information that would help me to get this little guy to grow into a real bush/tree would be greatly appreciated. I know it's not just the weather because my uncle has one in his yard that has been doing fine for years. I live in Overland Park, KS (suburb of KC) and it's been super super hot this summer.

    But in any case, as I stated...every year since I planted it, it does the same thing...acts like it's starting to grow, some really pretty red leaves show up...it lasts for maybe 2 weeks...leaves start to fall or change colors....and then it pretty much dies or shrivels up or whatever until the next year!

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

    Thank you so much!! IMG_4092.jpg
     
  2. katsura

    katsura Active Member 10 Years

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    the grass is likely taking the water you put on the maple because grass is a water sponse.
    I suggest you dig out the grass in a circle 1 1/2 ft radius from the base of the tree and
    put bark mulch over that bare soil. The mulch will reduce moisture evaporation and keep the
    roots cool. Maples have fibrous surface roots so water the whole mulched area for a minute or 2
    say 3 times a week. DON'T DROWN the tree. The tree should put out some new leaves after a
    few weeks; new leaves are a plant's way of smiling.
    One last thing, I'm concerned the tree may be planted too deep because when a expand your picture
    I see multiple stems rising from the ground so when you clear away the grass send us another picture
    close up of where the stems enter the soil so we can see if the tree is planted too deep.
    The tree looks healthy enough.
    Good luck.
     
  3. CSL

    CSL Active Member

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    I addition to what katsura said, I am curious to know how much sun the tree gets per day.

    It is most likely a 'Bloodgood', simply because that's a tree Ace would likely purchase to resell. That said, the color is rather green, possibly suggesting limited sunlight.

    Attached it a recent pic of my 'Bloodgood' that is in sunlight for about seven hours per day.

    Regards,
    -CSL-
     

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  4. bkhappyfriday

    bkhappyfriday Member

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    Wow thank you SO MUCH Katsura and CSL both! I'm so excited to have some information about where to go from here with my little bloodgood here...it has a lot of personal significance for me, so seeing it grow would mean a lot!

    Katsura...I'm going to buy some mulch tomorrow and dig up the grass and mulch around the tree as you suggested. I will take another pic and post it here when I've done that so you can examine the roots/branches more closely.

    CSL...yes the leaves are quite green right now...in May they were quite red...and then they turned green and have stayed that way....i'm not sure why but that seems to be the cycle...it starts to get really red and grow a bit then it turns green and sorta shrivels up and the cycle happens again the next year. It IS in an area that gets plenty of sunshine though...and there aren't any other trees blocking sunlight around...so I'm not sure why that is!

    I will post the updated pic tomorrow but any more suggestions would be appreciated!!! Thanks so much for your help again!
     
  5. katsura

    katsura Active Member 10 Years

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    Great!
    Be careful when you dig up the grass you don't run roughshod over the underlying maple surface roots.
     
  6. CSL

    CSL Active Member

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    You are welcome, I don't claim to be an expert - but I do have this particular tree in my yard and pay very close attention to the Japanese Maples that I do have. I have a them all in different sizes, some potted, some planted - my Bloodgood is planted, and is a specimen from Bizon Nursery.

    I can vary the color of say my potted Purple Ghost and Amber Ghost by altering the amount of sun they get during the day. More sun deepens their color, less fades it to green / cream.

    In any case, I would have a look at the thread below - there is some very good information on your particular question.

    Cheers,
    -CSL-

    http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=4163
     
  7. whis4ey

    whis4ey Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    When any plant fails to thrive it is because it hasn't been given the conditions it needs to do so
    Your tree appears to me to have a number of problems (some of them already mentioned)
    In the past, when I have had a tree that hasn't been doing very well I move it to a more suitable area and in every case it has suddenly sprung into life and grown happily thereafter
    After these years you should be aware that your tree will never thrive where it is. It should therefore be moved
    They need a shaded area ( by that I mean not in strong sunlight ... sun strength depends on where you live), out of the wind, good drainage (this is the most important of all the requirements), and adequate watering (not too wet ... the soil should be always moist but not wet)
    If you are satisfied that (a) and (b) above are ok then it can even be moved and replanted where it is, but it most certainly needs to be raised up as it is planted too deeply, choked by the grass, and is most probably not in a well drained soil. Raising it will help with drainage
    Give it the conditions it likes and it will thrive
    Otherwise it will continue to do as it has been doing and then will die when it gets too tired to fight any more
    Good luck
     
  8. bkhappyfriday

    bkhappyfriday Member

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    Thanks so much whis4ey for that advice. I really don't know anything about gardening and to be honest have left most of the care of this tree to my mother who is in charge of our yard...but I decided yesterday that enough is enough...I planted this tree 5 years ago for personal reasons (symbolic of an event in my life) and then just abandoned it letting my mom deal with it. I realized I really do want to care for it and learn HOW to care for it.

    You mentioned needing to remove the tree and replant it elsewhere. I really am not sure if that soil is good soil or not...but we have planted two other trees in that same soil nearby (but not blocking this tree) and they have thrived.

    If you still think it requires moving...dumb question maybe...but how do I move a tree? Will digging it up and moving it kill it since i'm pulling it's roots out of the ground? Is there a proper way to move it without damaging it?? Thank you!!!
     
  9. bkhappyfriday

    bkhappyfriday Member

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    P.S. Since two of you mentioned that I've planted the tree too deeply...I guess I should go ahead and move it up...is there a best way to do that? How do I dig up the tree and move it up without damaging it?
    Thank you!!
     
  10. CSL

    CSL Active Member

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  11. whis4ey

    whis4ey Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    My advice would have to be not to move the tree until autumn when it has started to sleep for the winter, or, if you suffer from really severe winters, then not until about maybe February/March next year before it thinks of starting new growth
    Someone who knows better what your climatic conditions are could advise you better on this than I could
    Your tree is still very small and as it has not started to grow I am assuming that there is not going to be much of a rootball and that its chances of survival on a move are going to be good
    As it is your tree my advice has to be tempered with what is the common sense approach as stated above
    However, if it were my own tree I would probably dig it up now and either move it to a more suitable location, or re-plant it on top of the ground, and then mound up the soil around it, thereby improving the drainage. I would then water well in, mulch as suggested, and generally then leave it alone
    When you dig it up you will also see if the roots have been too dry or too wet and this will help you decide on your watering regime
    Remember .. the choice is yours .... I am a long way away and haven't the benefit of first hand viewing :)
     
  12. bkhappyfriday

    bkhappyfriday Member

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    Hi everyone, it's me again!

    Ok, so I went outside just now and dug up the grass around my tree. After digging up the grass, watering the soil, then mulching around the tree, I'm now back..with a whole bunch of pictures of the process. I've uploaded them to an album here:
    http://www.dropbox.com/gallery/163/1/Japanese Maple Tree?h=a42483

    I'm sorry that they're not the best quality pics...the sun was in my face and I also forgot to put my camera on macro mode. Maybe I can get some better pics when the sun goes down a bit.

    But, everyone...I'm actually really terrified that things might be worse than we thought. I noticed that the trunk of the tree seems to just sort of stop and then the leaves and things are coming off of another sort of side branch or trunk thing. Do you see what I'm talking about in the pics? I'm so nervous, worrying that my tree is dead/in really bad shape beyond repair.

    Also, it didn't seem to me like it was planted too deeply...but I know nothing about this stuff. :( I just hope it's not as bad as I'm fearing it is. I want so much for this little tree to prosper. Also, I seem to recall when I bought it 5 years ago that the little tag on the plant said it was a bush/shrub and not a tree...is that the case? Can you tell by looking at it in its current state?
     
  13. katsura

    katsura Active Member 10 Years

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    Good pictures and good work with the mulch.
    It looks to me - and I blew up your pictures a lot - like the main stem of your original cultivar
    (say it was a "Bloodgood" for our purposes) has died but another branch of that cultivar has
    come off the bud union so you still have a branch of the original tree.
    BUT you also have a 'sucker' from below the bud union (that's the thick bulb-like growth just
    above the soil line) that has grown quite thick and healthy. Almost all (if not all) named maples
    you buy are grafted onto another "mother rootstock maple" and where it is grafted you get that
    thick bulb-like bud union (the union of the scion - the bud - and the mother rootstock). Any branch
    or stem growing from or above the bulb is the named cultivar and any branch or stem from below
    the bulb is a shoot or sucker of the mother rootstock. Those below-the-bulb suckers are to be discouraged
    and the grafted piece is to be encouraged. You say you got this Bloodgood from Ace so I am sure it was
    grafted and usually red Bloodgoods are grafted onto green mother rootstocks (altho it could have been a
    red rootstock-we just don't know) and you have branches from both the original Bloodgood and the mother
    rootstock growing there unless my 62 year old eyes are deceiving me so I welcome what others see as well
    but I think I am correct here. Your tree looks OK to me (although it is planted too deep but leave that for now)
    and if it were my tree I would cover all the soil with mulch (leaf an inch open around the base of the tree where
    it meets the soil because you don't want mulch touching the tree to prevent disease), water it thoroughly without
    drowning it and just observe the growth over the next month. You do not want to over-stress the tree and I would
    not fertilize it now just to see how strong the tree is on its own which I think is fine. Water the soil NOT the leaves
    or the trunk and just observe it. I talk with my trees but that's just me so I would tell it I like you and grow strong &
    other good wishes. You did well because you care about that living tree and let's see some pictures in a few weeks.
    Above all, have fun with your tree. Good luck.
     
  14. bkhappyfriday

    bkhappyfriday Member

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    Hi again Katsura!

    Wow thank you so much for going through my album and blowing up my pictures and taking the time to help me out like this. You have no idea how much it means to me!

    I have to admit that all the stuff about grafting and suckers and things is way over my head. I will have to get on google and research this I think. I'm just relieved to hear that that main branch/trunk being dead doesn't mean doom. Do I need to do anything with that?

    So for now, just mulch a bit more without touching the tree...water, but not the branches or leaves (twice a week would you say?) and talk to my tree (crazy as some people might think it is I've actually felt like talking to it and just spending some time with my tree might help it/feels right!) and see what happens over the next few weeks? So do you think I could really see some growth at this stage in the season? It's not too late to get some life back into this baby tree?

    Thanks so much again everyone!
    Here is the link to the album again:
    http://www.dropbox.com/gallery/163/1/Japanese Maple Tree?h=a42483
     
  15. katsura

    katsura Active Member 10 Years

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    Your tree has life NOW and I think I see some buds so keep good cheer. I've seen many trees much worse than yours.
    I believe you will get noticeable growth. Maples usually have a growth spurt in August.
    I don't know how hot you get there but I would water at least twice a week and water
    over the whole mulch area not just the soil where the tree enters the soil. Water deeply rather than quickly. You don't have
    a huge leaf canopy so the tree will not exhale huge amounts of water by the leaves and the
    mulch will retain the water better against evaporation. Do whatever you need do to understand
    what we wrote but if you read and re-read what I said several times i have no doubt you will
    understand. Your tree wants to live (as you too want it to) and it knows how to do that and
    now (like whis4ey wisely advised) you are better giving it the conditions for it to live/thrive.
    You both will be fine I somehow believe.
     
  16. bkhappyfriday

    bkhappyfriday Member

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    Thank you SO much Katsura...for both your advice, and your hope! You don't know how much it means to me! I just went outside and talked to me tree for about 10 or 15 minutes and added some more mulch closer to the tree without touching it. When I got up close to the tree I saw that there were TONS of little purple butterflies all around it in that newly mulched area just flitting about. Hopefully that's a good sign! :)
     
  17. bkhappyfriday

    bkhappyfriday Member

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    Hi everyone!!

    I'm in need of your help again! Ok, so I know a few of you had mentioned that the tree seems planted too deeply, but I had decided to not mess with that for now and just get better about watering it and remove the grass and mulch it, etc.
    Well, part of the reason why I thought maybe it's not planted too deeply/why I was worried about digging it up and moving it up higher or to a different spot was because when I started digging I wasn't even exactly sure what i was looking for and I was afraid of damaging the roots. I saw some things not too far under the soil that looked like roots to me...but...I'm so clueless when it comes to all this. I really don't want to kill the tree. Anyway, this morning I took a close-up picture of a little whitish "thing" sticking out from the bottom of the tree...can someone tell me what that is?? is that a root that's not deep enough in the soil?? Is that some kind of pathetic branch?? Ugh, I really need some help here!!

    Thanks so much again!!!
    I don't know what I would do without all you wise green thumbs!!
     

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  18. katsura

    katsura Active Member 10 Years

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    that is a root and there are a few others I can see in your various pictures.
    that root should be in the ground on running along the surface of the soil but I believe because
    there was grass all around the tree and touching the tree where that root is, that root grew high into
    that surrounding grass because the grass acted like soil and was wet and moist. You can cut out
    that root when you feel comfortable that your tree is healthy & growing but right now let's not stress
    the tree anymore than we need to. Let us know when you see new growth & clear signs of life over
    the next 10-20 days.
     
  19. bkhappyfriday

    bkhappyfriday Member

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    Thank you Katsura!! I figured that was a root...so I got concerned seeing how it's just above the soil sorta hanging in the air right now and didn't know if I should do something about it! I appreciate all your tree tips and I'm enjoying talking to my maple, watering it, and giving it lots of attention. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for positive results over the next few weeks and am looking forward to posting pics!! :)
     
  20. bkhappyfriday

    bkhappyfriday Member

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    Hi folks,

    It's me yet again! So I know it's been less than a week since I picked the grass out from around my tree and mulched it and started watering it, etc....and I need to give it time...but I'm just anxious that nothing is going to change. Many of hte leaves are sorta curled up at the ends or have holes or whatever and I'm worried nothing is going to change.

    Anyway, the reason I'm writing is that the heat here is Kansas has been unbelievable...and unbearable!!! We've had a heat index of 115 almost daily for the last 3 or so weeks. I was just wondering, given these conditions...how often do you guys think I should water? The heat is really horrendous but I also don't want to over-water.

    Thank you so much again!
     
  21. CSL

    CSL Active Member

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    Here is what I would do when it is this hot - take your pointer finger and in the root zone, say 2-3" out from the center of the tree push back the mulch until you hit soil.

    Gently wiggle your finger into the soil to your first knuckle, or a tad past.

    The soil should be cool and moist - not dry, not wet. Once you get a feel for things, cover up your hole and either water or not depending on what you have felt.

    You can do this every few days (moving where you inspect) and it will point you in the right direction for watering. The mulch you have used will be a great insulation blanket to hold in moisture.

    Regards,
    -CSL-
     
  22. bkhappyfriday

    bkhappyfriday Member

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    Thanks so much CSL! That helps a lot!
     
  23. whis4ey

    whis4ey Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    If your tree is also unshaded from that sort of heat then it is yet another indication that it is planted in the wrong place
     
  24. bkhappyfriday

    bkhappyfriday Member

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  25. whis4ey

    whis4ey Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I can only go on what you are telling me ... you will note that I made the point that I am not personally familiar with your temperatures
    It now appears that your sun is fierce and that this poor tree has had to suffer that for some 5 years. To me it is small wonder that the leaves frizzle up and fall off
    These trees are 'under storey' trees in nature. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are used to deep shade, but it does mean that their natural habitat is shaded. How much shade any tree needs depends on the sort of heat/sunshine it is inclined to have to suffer. Your temperatures sound fierce so your tree should be kept out of that sort of direct heat completely. Buy it an umbrella if all else fails
     

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