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My acer tree looks unhealthy/is dying - Pls help!

kkudikkudi Posts: 25
I have a beautiful Acer tree which was re-potted about 2 years ago. The only reason me and my dad re-potted it was because the existing pot was in its last days. There was no bottom anymore and the sides started to corrode and I just thought this was the chance to do it. The pot was metallic.

The new pot is 'wooden' on the outside and I think inside the lining is plastic. It is bigger in diameter but height wise was probably the same as the old one. Maybe a tiny bit shorter.

Since the repotting, I feel like the tree hasn't flourished or gone back to its old self. This year in particular a lot of the leaves have already shrivelled, or are half red half brown.

Its location hasn't changed and the place where it is, it is quite sheltered.

I have touched a couple of areas with a sharp object and I don't think the branches seem dead.

I have bought Vitax Japanese Maple Acer feed two weeks ago and sprinkled some on top. I also put some Miracle Gro All purpose compost at the top of the pot to see if that makes any difference whatsoever.

I am attaching lots of photos. Let me know if there's something obvious or something I should do to salvage this beautiful tree.

Is it worth repotting now, or perhaps putting into the ground? I read online that the best time to repot acers is in September. Is it too late to salvage the tree? 

Any help is appreciated.


P.S I live in London, UK


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  • BrexiteerBrexiteer Birmingham Posts: 955
    I'd say it's past it but I'm not expert. I'd also say the pot is way to small for the tree
  • kkudikkudi Posts: 25
    I'd say it's past it but I'm not expert. I'd also say the pot is way to small for the tree
    past it meaning too late to save? is it worth repotting now to the ground and see what happens next year?
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 2,964
    Pertaining to MOST trees and shrubs , what you see above the ground in terms of growth is normally replicated below the ground .
    In my opinion , that pot is far too small for a tree of that size ; the recent warm and windy weather takes a heavy toll on pot grown plants . The plant cannot transpire quickly enough .
    Last years hideous drought wouldn't have helped either ; is there anywhere you could plant it out ?
    I've never had a problem lightly pruning these , although some growers say not to .
    Personally I think it may be beneficial .
  • kkudikkudi Posts: 25
    Paul B3 said:
    Pertaining to MOST trees and shrubs , what you see above the ground in terms of growth is normally replicated below the ground .
    In my opinion , that pot is far too small for a tree of that size ; the recent warm and windy weather takes a heavy toll on pot grown plants . The plant cannot transpire quickly enough .
    Last years hideous drought wouldn't have helped either ; is there anywhere you could plant it out ?
    I've never had a problem lightly pruning these , although some growers say not to .
    Personally I think it may be beneficial .
    beneficial to do it now, or wait until when it's the right time? I do have a spot on the ground I could use for it. 
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 2,964
    I think that I would be inclined to leave it for now ; wait until Autumn but keep it wet for the foreseeable! :)
    Slightly acidic soil helps and try using rainwater if possible .
  • Kitty 2Kitty 2 ManchesterPosts: 5,150
    I agree that the pot is too small for a tree that size. It will be much happier if you can plant it in the ground. Dig some fresh compost and slow release fertilizer into your planting hole if your soil isn't great and give it plenty of water.

    I planted out my acer tree from a 55cm pot into the garden last spring, it's probably half the height of yours, and I was giving it a good bucketfull of water a day during the summer heatwave.

    Usual pruning advice for acers is to do it when it's dormant, during winter, before the sap begins to rise.
    I do agree with Paul though that a light trim to remove any smaller dead growth at the tips of branches will be fine.

    Good luck with yours @kkudi 👍.  I hope it makes a good recovery with a little TLC 😊.
  • kkudikkudi Posts: 25
    should I wait to put it in the ground right now, or wait until fall? @Paul B3
     recommends Autumn! What do you think @Kitty 2

    I bought Acer Feed Vitax - https://www.gardenworld.co.uk/product/acer-feed/. Is this classified as a slow release fertiliser?

  • Kitty 2Kitty 2 ManchesterPosts: 5,150
    edited May 2019
    I think planting it now would be more beneficial than leaving in that pot over summer. I'm not familiar with that acer feed I'm afraid, I simply chuck in some generic 'Blood, fish & bone'. 😳

    Edited to add: Paul is a much more experienced gardener than I am, so maybe wait to see what he says. My spring planting out probably wasn't done at the optimum time, but it worked for me.


    This is my tree today. The green blob in the corner 😆
  • kkudikkudi Posts: 25
    This is my gut feeling too. What kind of compost/brand do you recommend me putting at the bottom of the hole I dig for this particular type of Acer Tree? 
  • Kitty 2Kitty 2 ManchesterPosts: 5,150
    Do you know what the soil is like in the planting spot? 
    If it's good crumbly loam it may not need extra compost. Compacted clay on the other hand will benefit from additions such as grit, well rotted manure or a bag of compost.
    Have a bit of a dig and see what you've got first.

    I have clay 😒.
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