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Japanese Maple - crisping leaves

Hi all,

New here, both in terms of this forum, and to gardening in general!

I have a small Japanese Maple 'Skeeters Broom' that was purchased earlier in the year. I have been away for a few weeks and come back to it suffering from browning and crisping leaves. It's still growing as you can see from the new red growth, and the branches have buds on them.

It is situated in the container you can see, against an east facing fence. The fence protects it from harsh winds, but it gets the full blast of morning to midday sun. I haven't watered it excessively but not let it dry out, and the recent crappy weather kept it moist. I haven't fed it anything.

Is the sun the major issue here?

And on a minor point, are they supposed to lose their lovely red colour?

Many thanks in advance






  • Hi there!

    I too am new to the forum,but a longtime garden enthuiast. I´ve got 2 jap maples growing in

    clay soil in partial shade in my garden (`Fireglow and Red Pygmy`) and they seem quite happy

    there. Your pot looks dried out to me, you could try putting the maple in a larger pot and putting it

    somewhere in the shade until it recovers, and later prune out the dried shoots.

    Hope to be of some help

  • FloBearFloBear Posts: 2,281

    I have an established one and one that I rescued from crispy sadness at a GC that should have known better, but no expertise. 

    I keep mine in pots on the west side of the house in an angle with the conservatory and would guess that full bore sun is what's doing for yours, A Lexbury. Mine are in a bright spot but get very little full sun and that is later in the day.

    Drying winds could be an issue depending on how sheltered the plants are.

    Last edited: 06 August 2017 14:42:32

  • From my experience with these plants, they neither like full on sun all day or strong winds, so place in a relatively shady area with some shelter from the wind.  If the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch, then give then give the plant a very good watering, leave it a few days to partially dry out but not as dry as previously and then repeat and feed it too. It may need to be transplanted into a bigger pot, but I would leave that job until very early spring before the plant produces new shoots and leaves.

    Incidentally, my maples are also looking a bit jaded and tired which I assume is because they are coming towards the end of their growing year and will soon be dropping their leaves.

  • purplerallimpurplerallim Posts: 5,087

    There are so many varieties that leaf every which way. My last one was red in spring ,green in summer and fell off for winter. They do not like heat or wind which is what killed my last one, it was a very bad winter that year. By the look of yours it needs a pot twice the size, after 20years mine was i

  • purplerallimpurplerallim Posts: 5,087

    Sorry connection problem.  So to continue after 20 years at five foot tall mine was in half a beer barrel sized pot and you need to refresh the top couple of inches of soil  every year. Hope this helps.

  • AuntyRachAuntyRach Posts: 5,097

    Hi. Agree with the advice tips - more shelter, more water, bigger pot in spring. Also, make sure  the soil and pot can drain well - they hate wet roots. I have several and they are starting to change colour already this year - my red one is quite orange-y-green.

    My garden and I live in South Wales. 
  • Hi all,

    Thanks so much for the speedy and detailed information!

    From what you are all saying it's the sun doing this I think, so I'll have to see where else it can go. I really don't want to get rid of it.

    It's definitely sheltered from most winds where it is, and my soil probe says the soil is wet (the mulch on the surface is indeed dry though brianwellard8). I got it in May/June this year and the pot you see was twice the size of the one it was in at the GC. I hope it won't grow too quickly or too big as I only have a small garden. I will re-evaluate pot size in Spring.

    Can these things be kept small(ish)?

    Thanks all


  • Acers are slow growing. A pot will keep growth under control. They hate direct sun. You should be using a mixture of John Innes No. 2/Sharp Sand/Horticultural Grit. See my other posts on Acers.

    They like to be well drained and moist not wet. Avoid using any wood based mulch as it absorps all the rain fall during hot spells thus depriving the plant and causing it stress. Gravel is okay as a mulch.

    Skeeters Broom is quite tough and should recover.

    Best Of Luck


  • Thank you Robert, I'll get sorting the poor thing over the next weekend. I don't believe I knew about that sand/soil mix, so that will probably be contributing. It is a 50/50 mix, or more 70 soil/30 sand?

    Noted on the mulch.

    Kind regards,


  • Hello. Sorry for delay in replying. Just finished a moment ago after working on a big garden project.

    70/30 will be fine. The sharp sand - not builders sand! - is to help retain the moisture. Likewise a good handful of horticultural grit will keep the soil open and will aid drainage.

    I also mix in a handful of blood-fish & bone as a nutrient. It saves feeding all the time.

    Watch where you buy the B-F-B. I bought 1kg for £1.99 at BM Stores. Local garden centre was charging £8.00 for exactly the same.

    I have three or four Skeeters Broom. Two are in the shade and one gets sun for most of the morning. The first year the one in the sun crisped up but now seems to be adapting. I think it is hiding behind a holly tree I planted!  One other thing that causes crisping or leaf shrivel is morning dew and a hot sun - especially on new growth. In effect what happens is the dew drops act as a magnifyong glass and thus scorch or burn the leaves. Never good to water leaves when the sun is out.

    If you live in a windy area make sure you fasten it to a cane with a double knot - one on the acer the other on the cane. 

    Finally. if you are using a mulch make sure you leave a few inches empty around the crown.  People pile up bark chipping and when wet can cause the stem to rot. And always make sure you water around the edges not just the crown.

    Once it is thriving you will be bitten by the acer bug.

    Good Luck and Best Wishes.


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