Why is my maple turning green?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by cpen, Jul 9, 2004.

  1. cpen

    cpen Member

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    Port Coquitlam BC
    Six months ago my husband and I bought a house that has two Japanese maples in the front yard. They're different maples, but both had dark red leaves. I've noticed lately that the leaves seem to be losing their red and turning green.

    What's going on? Is something wrong with the soil? Do we need to give them some special fertilizer to keep them red? I have no idea how old they are or what sort of care the previous owner gave them.

    Thanks!
    Colleen
     
  2. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi,

    Since no one has taken a stab at this I'll try. Be careful because I'm a newbie at maples too.

    It's hard to say without knowing what kind of maple you have. Some maples leaf out in Spring with red leaves, turn green during Summer and then turn colors again in Fall.

    Red leaf maples can also turn green if given fertilizer high in nitrogen.

    Also, red leaf (and other types of) maples can turn green if not given enough sun.

    I know this doesn't answer your question, but it at least gives you the possibilities. I wouldn't worry much about it if your trees are healthy. That's what really matters right?

    Layne
     
  3. cpen

    cpen Member

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    Thanks! Yes, a variety of possibilities. My only previous experience of a Japanese maple was a perpetually-red on in a neigbour's yard where we lived before.

    We haven't fertilzed with anything. And one of the trees gets full sun. So perhaps they're both the type that turn green in summer. They seem healthy enough, so we'll just watch.

    Colleen
     
  4. Dale B.

    Dale B. Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hi,

    I was given an explanation of the red color in Japanese Maples leaves that made since to me:

    The red color comes from the presence of sugars stored in the leaves. Some maples produce and store more than others. The sugars are produced by photosynthesis during the day as sunlight is absorbed. The tree for normal respiration and metabolic functions uses the sugars. The rate of sugar production is a function of daylight hours and the rate of respiration is a function temperature. The red color is strongest in the spring when the sunlight hours are increasing and the temperatures are still cool. This results in high sugar production and low consumption. The longest days are in June, in the northern hemisphere. As the days get shorter in mid to late summer the production of sugar decreases and with higher temperatures the consumption of sugar increases. This results in a net loss of sugar and as a result the red color fades to green as the sugar is depleted.

    Some cultivars produce more sugar or consume less and as a result hold on to the sugars and red color longer. A tree planted in shade produces less sugar yet consumes the same as one planted in sun resulting in a loss of the red color sooner in the summer. This also explains why the red color lasts longer in northern latitudes than in the southern areas. The hours of daylight are longer in the northern latitudes during the summer and usually the temperatures are lower resulting in the sugars remaining in the leaves later in the year. The same cultivar planted in the same conditions in Portland might hold the red color until late August while the one in Atlanta might bronze out in late July. The result of an hour more of daylight and nighttime lows of 62 degrees verses 75 degrees.

    I know that there are probably more correct technical terms and this may be an over simplification. And, it may be way more than you asked for.

    Dale
     
  5. cpen

    cpen Member

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    Thank you! I like to know why things are the way they are.

    This summer is unusually hot and dry for the Vancouver area. I assume in a cooler, wetter summer (more typical), the trees wouldn't use up their sugar as quickly and would retain their red colour longer. They're really quite green now.

    Last summer was also very hot and dry. There are quite a few dead trees around, I assume because of last summer's heat. We had to remove two dead evergreens that had been beside the larger maple. Do maples have deeper roots than other trees? The native bigleaf maples in the area certainly don't seem to have suffered.

    Colleen
     
  6. Dale B.

    Dale B. Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Japanese Maples have relatively shallow roots. I believe, that in general, this is true of other maples. I am not sure that this is true about your native maples.

    Dale
     
  7. ckramos

    ckramos Member

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    bluish red maple

    In Burnaby, BC over at Metrotown mall, there's a bonsai stand, Sunny Bonsai, who has a couple of maples, raised indoor, pot on a humidity tray. They were really bluish, the oldish guy said that due to lack of sun the red maple decided to turn bluish-green.

    Cesar
     
  8. Bluesky68

    Bluesky68 New Member

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    I have been a landscaper in over 6+ States but by no means am I implying Im even close to being an expert. I have wondered about the red to green ratio in Japanese maples and their color change. The sun or lack of Always makes a difference in all trees and plant life. I have a J. Maple. It's suppose to be in more shade than I currently have it. (Today inTexas, It's very cloudy..... so no sun to show in attachment). It has hours of Sun, while some of the day has indirect light. While the sun makes sence in the changing of the leaf color, Why are many maples in Japanese gardens and other Botanical gardens able to maintain their red pigment while in the shade. Many maples require more shade than others. Thus why do they keep their color?
     

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  9. Dale B.

    Dale B. Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Some cultivars have deeper reds and hold their red colors later in the season than others. If yours is green this early, it is a green cultivar. Try 'Red Dragon' or 'Tamukeyama' for best red color in the South.
     
  10. Bluesky68

    Bluesky68 New Member

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    I should of went with the Red dragon they Amazing trees. Thank you!!
     

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