Japanese maple Frost Damage

Discussion in 'Maples' started by eq72521, May 11, 2010.

  1. eq72521

    eq72521 Active Member

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    I didn't see an exclusive thread on this. So maybe this thread over time can help others.

    Last night we had a bad frost. I got many maples in my two cold frames, but those in the ground, or the large one's I put up against the house looks like all their leaves are toast. All of the maples have leafed out here.

    I would like some insight into if these plants will recover, or if my hopes should be placed elsewhere. Should I clip the leaves etc.
    Pics are of baldsmith, Orangeola and grandma ghost.
     

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  2. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    How much below freezing did the temperature dip? We have had a couple of frosts here which have destroyed all the Magnolia flowers, but not cold enough to affect the Japanese maples, fortunately. I try not to give my maples much (if any) fertilizer before all chance of frost has passed as it encourages soft growth that is susceptible to freeze damage.

    If you end up losing the leaves the plants will shoot from their reserve buds, assuming the roots are healthy. It is hard to tell from the pictures but it looks as if the shoots are firm in spite of the leaves drooping, which is a good sign. Also I don't see any blackening, yet. I would suggest waiting before removing any leaves, you never know....
     
  3. eq72521

    eq72521 Active Member

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    The temp did not go much below 30 degrees. But the lawn had quite a frost on it.
    The leaves on others have lost most of there color, and are certainly dead looking. Most of the new shoots are very soft.....I am mostly worried about losing whole plants to them. I have about 20 of them in the ground, mostly the largest ones. These one's I had right up next to the houses foundation, but did not help a bit. Makes me appreciate the brief bloom I had with them.
     
  4. mapledia

    mapledia Active Member

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    I've had this happen in my garden, too, and it's just so depressing to witness. Nothing you can do about it. However, when my maples have looked like your photos, and it's been below freezing but not by a lot (maybe 25˚ or so), in my experience they usually bounce back. As long as it didn't get down to, say, 5˚, the plants are probably alive but the leaves are toast. You'll probably experience a lot of leaf-drop, but don't be alarmed. Just wait and provide a good environment for them. I've had maples drop 80% of their leaves after a hard freeze, thought the plant might be dead, only to have it leaf out again in late May or early June with no problem. Usually the second leaf-out is sparser and of less quality than the first, but this is to be expected. The tree's leaf-out in subsequent years returned to normal quality. Of course this stresses the trees, but some TLC can go a long way. I have lots of survivors of this sort of thing in the past performing brilliantly today. Part of my garden is in a deep ravine, so frost is often a problem, but the spring growth habit is so strong they almost always survive and do well.
    mapledia
     
  5. eq72521

    eq72521 Active Member

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    This is good news, I will continue to post. All of the leaves look to wilted, on almost all the plants not cold-framed. I hope the new limbs continue, and the leaves drop fairly soon.
    Thanks for the encouragement. It's a real disappointment to see some of your specimens tank.
    By TLC, I assume this means making sure they dont get too wet or too dry, and to not fertilize.
     
  6. steenyb

    steenyb Member

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    I too experienced the late frost in Maine and all the leaves on my Japanese Maple are wilted. The color seems to have held but they all have the droops. I just planted this tree last year and I wish I had known to take preventative measures. With our extraordinarily early spring many plants are leafed out that normally wouldn't have been. I found frost damage on my grape arbor, vinca, jewel weed - nearly everything got tinged - even my blueberry bushes look like its fall not spring.

    I'm thinking about watering the tree well tomorrow (it's been dry as well) - or will this stress the tree that has no leaves to move the water through transpiration?

    WOW!
     
  7. mapledia

    mapledia Active Member

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    By TLC, I meant to make sure each plant has enough water, so yes, if it's been dry, do water them regularly. I have a Japanese maple in my garden at this moment which leafed out at the wrong time because it got zapped by several days of severe freezing conditions, the leaves drooped immediately, all dropped off, but I just continued as usual and am now seeing new leaves beginning to form with lovely spring color. I wouldn't recommend fertilizing these plants this year, however, because they are already stressed to the max, so just take it easy with them and don't push them so they can recover. Freezing conditions on plants may produce weird looking leaves brought on by the death of leaf tissue and then secondary fungi feeding on those dead parts. Don't panic if this happens because it's probably pseudomonas syringae. Spray with a fungal copper-based solution, and things should go well. However, I do want to stress that large and older plants that are in the ground are most likely to recover. First year grafts and other young plants should always be protected from freezing because they just aren't hardy enough to survive, especially those still in pots.
    Best of luck to those of you in Maine.
    mapledia
     
  8. steenyb

    steenyb Member

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    Thank you mapledia. The tree I planted last summer was a couple of years old. It did experience a couple of limbs dying off over the winter. I'm thinking that it was the result of the tree trying to reach an equilibrium between roots and shoots. It looked gorgeous up until this frost.

    I just noticed the damage from Tuesday morning, today (Wed). I'm kicking myself for not throwing some remay over it. I deployed it over my tiny basil seedlings to some success. I'll start watering it tomorrow like it is a brand new transplant (low and slow) and see how she fairs. The will to live is strong, lets see if I can't nurse it back into full vibrancy!
     
  9. mapledia

    mapledia Active Member

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    Good going. They do have the will to grow, and unfortunately frost does happen. In my experience, the youngest plants are the least likely to recover, especially things like one-year maple grafts still in pots. I tend to bring them inside if a hard frost is on the way. But the older plants do tend to survive even awful frosts. I've had some large in-the-ground maples almost fully leafed-out go through a week of 5˚ temps, wilt horribly and drop every single leaf, only to have a new crop of leaves within a month. Of course this takes a lot of energy out of the plant, so I just protect it, give it plenty of water, and try not to stress it at all with fertilizer or anything else. Usually the next year it looks just fine. After this sort of stress, however, I look carefully for any indication of disease (fungal or bacterial) and treat it immediately because I think the plant has a low tolerance for intruders after this sort of stress. Still, I've had really good luck in getting clobbered plants back to good health, and I hope you do too.
    mapledia
     
  10. mapledia

    mapledia Active Member

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    Just one thing I should have stressed above. DO NOT FERTILIZE these suffering plants at this time. It's too late in the year!!! If you fertilize them now, they may not be able to harden off prior to the fall freeze, and then all will be lost. Just be patient.
    mapledia
     

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