Problems with my Variegated Maple

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Jez Tippett, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. Jez Tippett

    Jez Tippett Member

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    Hi there,
    I live in Ontario and last year planted a young varigated maple on my front lawn. The tree survived the winter but this year has produced hardly any variegated leaves. I know you are supposed to pick off the solid colour leaves in order that the variegated ones will become more dominant, but I am concerned that if I do this there will not be enough leaves left to support the young tree. Does anybody have any ideas on how I can encourage variegated leaves without picking off too many solid ones?Jez_Tippett@hotmail.com
    Many thanks
     
  2. Laurie

    Laurie Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    It may be that the site in which you planted it is too fertile, which can lead to reversion. We want to challenge a variegated cultivar to keep it healthy and happy. Do you by chance know which cultivar this is, as some are more particular than others? Do you have before and after photographs?
     
  3. Jez Tippett

    Jez Tippett Member

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    Hi Laurie,
    The latin name on the tag that came with the tree says it is a Harlequin Variegated maple and that its latin name is Acer Platanoides Drummondii. I think your suggestion about the soil being too fertile might be correct as we live on a farm and made sure the tree was well fertilised when we planted it last fall. I guess my next question would be "how can I correct this?" Short of diggin up the tree and moving it somewhere else I am not sure how to proceed. I am reluctant to do this and would be grateful for any help you can offer.
    Many thanks
    Jez
     
  4. emery

    emery Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Jez, the only option with Drummondii is to prune off reverted branches. Normally the new growth will be variegated. Unfortunately this tree reverts quite easily. There are several around here that are partially or nearly totally reverted. So some care is needed. I have 2, luckily they have not shown any signs of reversion yet. (Knock on wood).

    I don't believe this particular tree reverts more easily when fertilized. In this way it doesn't behave like A. palmatum. This said it doesn't like being over fertilized generally. If what you're saying is that you dug in manure and bone meal, I doubt this is the problem.

    Were I you I'd leave it alone this year, then prune as necessary next year. I wouldn't bother to pick off leaves but try and let it get established.

    Good luck, it's a pretty tree.

    -E
     
  5. Shishi

    Shishi Active Member

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    sorry to jump on your thread but i wanted to ask as question about variegated acer palmatums. so you're supposed to pick off a reverted colored leaf as it appears and prune of the branches of reverted growth?

    i've got some branches with single leafs that is totally green so should I pick off just that one leaf?

    Thanks!
     
  6. Laurie

    Laurie Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Van Gelderen, in Maples of the World (Timber Press 1994) writes: “Occasionally, green shoots are produced that must be removed as soon as possible.†This advice is repeated in Maples for Gardens (Timber Press 1999): “[T]his beautiful tree tends to revert to green foliage and those branchlets must be removed.†There is a ‘Drummondii’ in my neighborhood that was planted about three years ago, and one of the leading branches has been entirely green since spring. Jez, this is an unfortunate predicament, when all of the shoots on your young tree are mostly all green. Emery, have you read that other species’ variegated cultivars, or more specifically those of A. platanoides, are not as sensitive to culture? If 'Drummondii' typically puts out entirely green shoots, and if some of the green shoots on this specimen have a few variegated leaves, then maybe this is indeed related to all of the fertilizer. Vertrees/Gregory, in Japanese Maples 3rd Ed. (Timber Press 2001), refer to Japanese maples in general in the section on variegation, and at one point specifically refer to a cultivar of A. buergerianum.
    “I have observed in the nursery, and in older plantings, that culture may have a large influence on the retention of variegation. Plants that are overfed and produce exceptionally long shoots of new growth may have the variegation suppressed in that wood. Markings may also be masked, or overcome, with excessive nitrogen feeding in the absence of sufficient phosphate and potash.â€
    Jez, if you purchased this tree from a respectable nursery, I would let them know what is going on and ask for their advice given the quotes above. Since they did not advise you that this tree is prone to reversion and should not be fertilized the same way as other trees or maples, perhaps they will offer another tree. I do not see how you can cut all the branches off a young tree. If you chose to wait until next spring, then it seems that this fall you would need to ‘reamend’ the soil or move the tree, then hope for variegation the following spring.
    Shishi, I remove small twigs, sets of leaves, or leaves if they have reverted on cultivars, whether or not they are variegated, e.g. ‘Okushimo’ sometimes gets a few sets of typical palmate leaves.
     
  7. emery

    emery Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hi Laurie and Jez,

    Yes, if the shoots (or branchlets) are entirely green they have reverted and must be removed. However, in this case that will likely kill the tree. I agree, Laurie, that returning to the nursery for advice is the thing to do; I'd certainly not be content if my new tree was already completely reverted!

    I inferred from the "farm" comment that the fertilization would have been well rotted manure and other potash rich components. Perhaps this was in error, although it is certainly accepted wisdom that it is a mistake to give any newly planted tree too much nitrogen. Of course only Jez can tell us what kind of fertilizer and how much was used.

    I have always assumed that the Vertrees quote above applies mostly to palmatum cultivars. My experience with Drummondii is that they are less sensitive. Certainly 2 mostly reverted specimens I know of haven't been fertilized for many many years. I have fertilized my own, as already described, and see no signs of reversion. I have not seen anything in the texts implying platanoides is less sensitive to fertilization than palmatum, though nor have I seen a contrary view. Certainly as there are few variegated platanoides cultivars the subject will come up less.

    -E
     
  8. Laurie

    Laurie Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Yes, I know that it is easy to think of Japanese Maples as referring to Acer palmatum and cultivars, but the narrative sections at the beginning of the book actually refer to the group of maples native to Japan, unless otherwise specified. I just thought to check if there was anything generally on variegation, since there are variegated cultivars of a number of species discussed in a later section of the book. Given that Acer pictum and cultivars are in Section Platanoidea with Acer platanoides, I hoped that there would be similarities, but there was no mention of any tendency of specific variegated cultivars to revert.
    However, this morning in Van Gelderen (1994), I found more detail on reversion of variegated cultivars of other species in Section Platanoidea. Acer pictum (Acer mono) ‘Hoshi yadori’ “reverts easily and often has long, green shoots that must always be removed.†A. pictum ‘Marmoratum’ “revert very easily to totally green.†A. truncatum ‘Akikaze nishiki’: “Occasionally, complete green shoots appear and should be removed.†I looked through other variegated species from different Sections and found that A. negundo ‘Flamingo’ has no mention of tendency to revert, but A. negundo ‘Versicolor’ “tends to form branches bearing entirely green leaves. Such branches must be removed as soon as they develop.†This advice thus seems to be generally true for reversion of variegated cultivars of most species, irrespective of reasons for reversion.
    As far as the manure, I guess I automatically made the opposite assumption: it was readily available fertilizer; my error. If it is well-rotted, then it acts like compost with low nitrogen content? Apparently there is an excellent source of such a product - composted cow or steer manure and sawdust - around here, but I guess I assumed that it might be too rich. I hope that the nursery supports Jez with another tree.
     
  9. Shishi

    Shishi Active Member

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    Thanks for all the info.

    What if on a particular branch, there was only one or 2 leaves that are reverted to green? I assume i would just pinch of the particular leaves, right?

    Thanks!
     
  10. Laurie

    Laurie Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Right! Sorry if I was not clear on that.
     
  11. Shishi

    Shishi Active Member

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    Hi Laurie,

    Thanks for the info. No need to apologize, I'm a beginner so I just wanted to be clear before I do something detrimental to my maple! :)
     
  12. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    A.platanoides 'drumondii' is a most unreliable cultivar. I have one in dappled shade that displays erratic behaviour from one year to the other. Last year it had no variegation: all green. This year it was almost all whitish cream with some green in the center of the leaves (see pic below). Based on my experience with this cultivar I would say that reversion may be temporary and I do not advise to cut the green branches.
    Definitely not a cultivar I would recommend.

    Gomero
     

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