Dying Japanese Maple (Temukeyama) - Help!

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Hoonballer15, May 16, 2023.

  1. Hoonballer15

    Hoonballer15 New Member

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    Hello,

    First post here - hoping someone can help!

    I have a 4-ish year old Temukeyama JM that didn't exactly "spring" into action this season. Only a few branches at the bottom appear to be alive and full of new leaves. The majority of the tree is brittle (dead?) and didn't developed new growth this season. After hearing about root entanglement/suffocation, I did uncover the root flare (and have been told it was planted a few inches too deep), to find a very interesting looking situation...

    If anyone has any ideas as to what the issue is, and more importantly, how to correct it (in hopes of the tree living a healthy life), it would be greatly appreciated. Just looking for my next options!

    Thank you!
     

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  2. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Good afternoon @Hoonballer15 and welcome to the maples forum.
    First of all, yes it appears to have been planted too deep, but that I feel is not the problem. IMO the soil looks very dry indeed and a lack of water could well be the problem. Looking at what you have uncovered, shows that the roots have not girdled the trunk YET. But they are on the way to doing so.
    You must trim the roots back, ie the ones that are heading back towards the trunk. And cover with soil and water well. Do not leave those roots to dry out.
    Next you will have to be drastic and cut all the dead wood back. Yes that might leave you with just one healthy branch, but it is necessary.
    To check if any branch is in fact dead. Do a fingernail test on each branch, scraping it back to see if there is any green beneath the brown bark. I don’t think you will find any on any branch,except the one with leaves.
    Then ensure the tree is given water each seek and especially if you have a very dry period. Then hopefully it will come back. It is a 50/50 chance and will take a couple of years to look anything close to nice. But it's worth a try.
    Do not be tempted to feed it, as this will cause it more stress. Just cut back and check the soil weekly to ensure it doesn't dry out.
     
  3. Hoonballer15

    Hoonballer15 New Member

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    Thanks for that. I can assure you that this tree/soil has always been watered thoroughly, but I did let it dry out a few days to investigate the roots - hence the dryness pictures.

    When you say to cut off dead branches, are you only referring to the branches or the main trunk down to the first live branch? I added a photo with the area I'm referring to - would I cut everything from the yellow line up, or just the branches off the main trunk?

    thanks again...
     
  4. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Good to hear it has not been left to dry out. And yes everything that is dead wood remove. You will probably find on the fingernail test that the trunk above the live branch is also dead. But do check before removing.
    Make sure your tools are cleaned with rubbing alcohol before and after cutting. It's very easy to transfer disease from one tree to another from dirty blades.
    This all sounds quite drastic I know. But dead wood will not come back to life. And you do not want it dying gack into the good branch.
     
  5. opusoculi

    opusoculi Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Tamuke yama is a old strong Acer variety tested for long a time; fall colours comes in late autumn.
    When in end of winter, you have so many dead branches, you can suspect a disease in ground as Verticillium , or so.
    Did you observe anything abnormal during last end of summer? As early fall colours in september for instance.
     
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  6. Hoonballer15

    Hoonballer15 New Member

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    Nothing abnormal last season. It was only the last few weeks, when the bottom few branches were sprouting fresh red leaves, and the top branches remained lifeless and dead.
     

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