Did my Japanese Maple catch verticillium???

Discussion in 'Maples' started by shelli, Jul 19, 2006.

  1. mjh1676

    mjh1676 Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    With the new photos I belive we can be relatively certain of the above diagnosis, tight bark combined with the effects of verticillium alboatrum. The heavy blackening of twigs is unusual for this time of year with these above conditions--at least I am not used to seeing that coloring which is much more common in cooler seasons with vertcillium, and actually another form of verticillium. I would simply guess that it is culture that is altering the presentation at the branch tips. The rest of the tree looks pretty typical for the TB, etc. Actually, it is pretty common now to see trees that far gone at the time of purchase these days.

    You keep asking for advice, but it should be coming clear that you have received the advice above and you need to prune. Unfortunately, the trunk is severely infected and calloused so it will be hard. You might also follow the advice of those that have suggested digging around and trying to resolve any drainage issues. It is pretty simple, the ground should remain moist but not waterlogged between waterings. You will want to fertilize a little eventually, but not now. If the tree is still living in the fall that would be a good time to start.

    I will tell you that I would probably prune out all the dead and dying wood to what looked healthy to try to stop the bleeding per se. If the tree survived the summer, I would be for digging it up fully in the fall and either replanting or moving to a container so I could work with it. At this point I would feel like I had nothing to lose so I would be for digging in a find out what's up. You are going to have to make this tree very happy to save it and you are going to have to learn or figure out how to do it. I think the odds are against you.

    Anyway--best regards,
     
  2. shelli

    shelli Active Member

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    My biggest concern at this point is how much to water. I will prune eventually (I promise), but right now it is unclear to me whether the tree stressed and collapsed because of lack of water or too much water. (the soil feels moist) So then the problem becomes if I water it and it's suffering from root rot... I'll kill it for sure. If I don't water it and it's suffering from lack of water... I'll kill it. I did send some pictures to a professor at my local extension office (thank you Laurie for the link), and he seems to feel it is suffering from root rot and I should cut back on the watering. If I dig down outside the edge of the root ball would I be able to tell if the roots are rotting??? What would it look like? Is there anyway to remedy root rot other than less water? Will I stress the tree more by digging around the roots?
     
  3. graftedmaplecollector

    graftedmaplecollector Active Member 10 Years

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    That's why I usually buy small....if it is dirty stock no big deal. Patience grasshopper.

    I think more pictures and examples of tight bark would be helpful. The tree obviously died
    of stress, but was likely dirty stock to begin with.
     
  4. shelli

    shelli Active Member

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    Very good point. Originally I was just going to plant the offspring tree (1.5 ft.) in place of the old tree. My mother encouraged me to shop for a big tree because she didn't feel she'd live long enough to see the little one grow big and thrive. I'm not sure we've accomplished much here besides wasting $600, and gaining a lot of stress and heartache. My father planted the original tree. He loved it so much he said if he ever moved he'd take it with him. He died three years ago. My mom said, "I guess he took it with him."
     
  5. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Shelli,

    Sorry for the late reply.

    Watering plants really is an art. How much and how often really depends on a lot of factors so I can not give you a concrete answer. I never gave concrete watering advice at the nursery I used to work at...unlike the owner. :-\ Some plants can be watered on a fairly set schedule. These would include cacti/succulents and plants that require lots of water like taro & Papyrus. If you live in an area where the weather is fairly consistent day to day and season to season like Hawaii or perhaps south Florida you can water plants on a set schedule. For instance, in Hawaii my father waters his bonsai twice a day and landscape plants once a day throughout the year. He only goes off this sechedule when it rains. In an area like Los Angeles temps can vary by as much as 10, sometimes 20 degrees, from one day to the next. Last year there was a day when the temp jumped from the high 80s one day to about 100 the next. I forgot to water before I left my apartment and some of my plants suffered that day. My Eugenia almost died. Plants like maples that require moist, but not overly wet or overly dry conditions tend to be a little harder to keep and maintain. They're not for people who routinely kill plants from lack of water or watering too much.

    How are you watering your maple in question? By hand? By auto sprinkler? Most people set their sprinkler to water their lawn, but lawn & bedding plant water needs are different than the maple tree's needs, especially during the year or so it takes to establish in the landscape. If your sprinkler is watering every day for 5 to 10 or so minutes that may not be enough or it may be too much depending on the soil. You said you have predominantly clay. Clay can get and stay soggy, but it also takes a looong time for the water to permeate below the surface where the roots are. I'll bet that if your sprinkler is on a short duration the top layer of soil is moist, but if you dig deeper you might find that the soil below is quite dry.

    For a newly planted tree you need to give it at least one good deep watering a week if your soil has good drainage. More frequently if your soil is very quick draining and less if your soil is slower draining. Also, your frequency changes with the season too. Again, more frequently during the hot summer months and less or no water during the winter. Once the tree is well established it may not need much manual watering at all except during the hottest weather.

    The leaf droop you see in the photos you provided look to me like natural springtime behavior. As the leaves unfurl they tend to droop a bit. But, if in the summertime you see the petioles drooping that's a sure sign the tree needs water ASAP. For that variety of maple you have the petioles will usually droop in most cases before any leaf tip burn.

    By your description it seems like you relied a lot on the weather to water your tree and you can not go simply by monthly inches of rain/water to gauge whether your landscape tree is well watered while it is trying to establish itself or in especially hot weather like we've been having. Maples need regular waterings and Mother Nature is anything but regular when it comes to rain.

    I know people that like to let their maples go a bit dry before watering again. This is fine in cooler climates or areas where the sun isn't as strong, but here in Los Angeles I tend to keep my potted maples on the wet side of moist. In the early spring I can let my maples get a little dry and they won't be affected, but in the summer months I keep my maples on the wet side of moist. One missed watering on a hot day can spell disaster for my maples and other plants. So I've learned to keep my maples slightly on the wet side of moist. Right now this means watering some of the 1 gal. pots every day and a couple of my 5 gal. pots roughly every 2nd or 3rd day. The soil is still moist when I water again. This year the maples are doing much better than last year despite being in a sunnier west facing location. Last year they were in a north facing location and got no direct sun. A lot of this has to do with the potting medium (read elsewhere for what I use). My new potting soil holds moisture very well, yet is fast draining and has very good aeration.

    You might want to condition the soil over the next few years by adding gypsum and/or humus. Adding gypsum or humus will help break up the clay soil, but this won't happen overnight.

    http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/extension/newsletters/hortupdate/julaug01/art3jul.html

    Do a google search for more info on humus and gypsum.

    Hope this helps,

    Layne
     
  6. shelli

    shelli Active Member

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    Thanks for all the great info Layne!

    I went back and looked at my calendar. I discovered that 4 days after we planted (and WELL watered the tree) we had a deluge of rain... 5 inches!!! Followed by many more inches before July. My "hunch" at this point is that the roots got water logged. I would not have watered it in so deeply upon planting had I know that much rain was coming all at once. Last week I did a little digging and found the soil to be VERY wet below the surface. I have a huge Crimson King w/in the same vicinity which seems to suck the surface dry during the summer so without digging it's hard to know what's going on beneath. I also found some clumps of soggy roots that broke off easily. I think the tree suffered root rot in the first 2 months and then when the weather turned hot and dry it didn't have the root system anymore to support the leaves and they wilted and died. I've cultivated the soil some, removed the bark mulch and I'm just letting it be for now. I test every few days to make sure the soil hasn't gone completely dry. We've had a little more rain in the past week so I haven't watered it. At this point the damage is done and all I can do is cross my fingers that it makes a come back. I'm hoping I can post pictures of new growth before the season ends... with a big smiley face!
     

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