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Japanese Maple problem

Hi all - I have a problem with a Japanese maple slowly losing its leaves and apparently dying off (photos attached). Oddly, it seems to only be affecting one side of the tree at the moment. Planted in part shade and I wonder whether the ground might be too moist and there might be problems with root rot. But the problem has emerged fairly quickly and after the tree has been in place for a number of years. Any thoughts? 


  • @ajsmithy18 Japanese Maples lose their leaves in the winter as they are deciduous.
  • Thanks Ross. I should have noted that I’m in New Zealand so we’re close to the height of summer at the moment. There are a few small buds on some of the dead looking branches but most of them are just dead twigs now (no sap).
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,907
    I was thinking the same as @rossdriscoll13 :)
    It could be the opposite problem @ajsmithy18 - too hot and dry. The green varieties struggle with sun far more than the reds, especially dissectums, because the foliage is so fine.
    If you think the ground isn't draining well though, that's certainly a problem for them. They need adequate drainage as well as moisture.
    Shrubs/trees can look fine for a long time, and then the conditions catch up, so the most recent spell of weather is the straw breaking the camel's back.
    It would be worth clearing away the surrounding foliage/plants etc, and having a look at the soil conditions - as carefully as you can. If it's very soggy, it might be worth lifting it and replanting in a better site. Not an ideal time to do it, but if it keeps failing, it'll be lost anyway.
    If it's just one side just now, there may be an obvious reason that can't be seen in the photo.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,649
    Only one side affected is interesting. Does that side get the prevailing wind? They don't like exposed windy conditions. Has another plant been removed recently, allowing the wind to get to it? Another possibility is damage to the bark low down on that side preventing water being transported properly up that side of the tree,
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,907
    That was my thought too @JennyJ. We can't see from the photo, so any further info from @ajsmithy18 will be very helpful.   :)
    Acers prefer a bit of shade, and out of strong winds, so it could be something as simple as Jenny suggests re a plant/shrub that's been removed. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • bédébédé Surrey Hills, acid greensand.Posts: 1,263
    Maybe someone closer to home would have a better idea.
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze I garden in South Notts on an improved clay soil Posts: 3,028
    I have seen an acer slowly die by loosing one side of it first.I think a look at the soil would be a good start to see if too wet or too dry.
    The most serious gardening I do would seem very strange to an onlooker,for it involves hours of walking round in circles,apparently doing nothing. Helen Dillon.
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,850
    It may also be worth checking for verticillium wilt.
    I had one half of one of my acers do similar and that's what it turned out to be.
    🤞 it isn't and it's just one of the more likely problems mentioned above.
    If it is you're more likely to notice it next spring.
    Some branches have lengths with no leaves and often the leaves at the end of a branch will go crispy. Black marks like bruises appear on younger wood.
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Thanks for your help everyone. At least I've got a list of things to check for now! I appreciate the help.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,907
    Hope it recovers ,or can be saved @ajsmithy18. Let us know how you get on  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

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