Is my Japanese Maple Dying? How do I save it?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by rajbakhale, Jul 23, 2009.

  1. rajbakhale

    rajbakhale Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ashburn, VA, USA
    I bought a healthy Crimson Queen Lace-leaf Japanese Maple 4 weeks ago. After about 2 weeks I noticed that the leaves started wilting/drying and curling. When I touched the leaves they just fall down. This tree gets a lot of direct strong sun for 4-5 hrs per day. The soil in my area is very clayish. I dug a little soil around the tree to see if tree is drowning or suffocating and I saw that there was pool of water around it. Looks like the soil in my area is not draining but retains all water. Would this property of soil drown the tree? Do I need to move it somewhere else. Is it enough if I remove the tree add a little soil under it to increase the height and replant it in same place ? I also tried to break some small branches and it looks like some are brittle and they easily snap. The bark looks green. Please advise on options. I don't want this beautiful tree to die. Is there a test to tell if it is alive. Please help !!!
     
  2. emery

    emery Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,427
    Likes Received:
    1,069
    Location:
    Normandie, France
    Your tree is certainly drowning. You can replant by mounding soil on top of the clay, or try to find a better draining place.

    In any case this plant needs free draining soil, if the roots stay in water it will drown and die.

    If you've planted it with the original soil around the roots, you have probably created a sort of basin for it to drown in. One option is to strip off all the original soil and plant directly the bare roots in the clay. That way at least the water will move freely through the soil. The Japanese maples can be reasonably tolerant of clay, but if you can mold and fire the soil directly to make pots, I'd recommend mound planting.

    To see if it's alive, scratch the bark and check if the cambium just underneath is green. If it is you're in with a chance.

    Personally I don't think sun is the problem, unless you're in Texas or some like place.

    Don't wait too long to act, in any case.

    -E
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2009
  3. alex66

    alex66 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,973
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    ROME Italy zone9/b
    remove the maple, realize one small hill and put the maple on top,if the soil ,is clay watering moderate only two time for week,which is your USDA zone? for more read in faq "how to plant a maple"
    ciao
     
  4. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    459
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Maine coast, USA, zone 5
    I think maybe we tend to over-generalize, sometimes, in talking about "maples" as though they were all very similar in their growing requirements. In truth, of course, they vary quite a bit.

    There is a wetland behind my house, only about 50 feet from my office window, and one of the dominant species growing back there is the red maple, Acer rubrum. They don't grow in areas that are submerged in water for part of the year, but they grow right up to the edge of those places, and I'm sure their roots must be growing in soil that is completely saturated much of the time. At the other extreme, I've got two A. shirasawanums growing in "soil" that is really just fast-draining construction fill. I apply light top-dressings of compost but otherwise pretty much leave the trees to deal with their environment according to their own devices. They're doing really well (after just two years).

    Anyway, my point is just that all maples are not alike.
     
  5. tjcher

    tjcher Active Member

    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    United States
    Here are some other planting options for clay soil.

    Pacific Coast Maples
    http://www.pacificcoastmaples.com/japanese-maples/planting-japanese-maple-trees.html

    I have called these people numerous times as I live in Colorado and we have thick clay soil and they are extremely helpful. I also recommend superthrive, dynagrow, and protekt. These products are also sold at Pacific Coast Maples and I have found them to really help out my trees. Protekt in particular seems to make the trees more hardy, more wind resistant, and better looking all around.

    Just my 2 cents -- after inflation -- not worth much....
     
  6. rajbakhale

    rajbakhale Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ashburn, VA, USA
    I am creating a mound today to move my tree up a little. What other items I can add underneath to increase height in addition to normal tree/shrub soil.
    I have read that I can also add a little pine bark needle/mulch to the soil (which will help areate, drain, provide acidity etc). But will this not hurt the tree since they warn that JM's should not get in contact with any mulch??
     
  7. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

    Messages:
    1,352
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Northamptonshire, England
    hi, you should avoid mulch piling against the trunk/stem of the maple, but pine bark will not harm the roots and can be included in the soil mix of your mound.

    You can add compost, mulch, leafmould, planter mix etc to the mix, but mainly you want ordinary topsoil, either bought in or dug from another area of the garden.

    Hopefully you saved your tree before it drowned, good luck.
     
  8. Acermad

    Acermad Member

    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Essex, England
    I've got heavy clay soil and several mature acers. On my new plants I put 4-6" of gravel at the base of the hole to act as a drain in case of heavy rain. Its a bit easier than the 4-6ft hole filled with gravel described in one of the post links. Crimson Queen dont mind the sun - mine has it all day - well ok its not that hot here in the UK!
    Andrew
     
  9. ladyhouse

    ladyhouse Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    I have a Crimson Queen and extremely heavy clay soil. I simply mixed a little bit of the clay soil with humus enriched soil and gypsum when planting. The tree is in sun all day long and is as happy as could be. I would hypothesize it's the clay soil that is the problem.
     

Share This Page