Baldness of Weeping Japanese Maple

Asked June 21, 2015, 7:04 AM EDT

My Weeping Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum), 22 years old, planted in well drained and continually mulched garden in front of a home, started loosing leaves and many branches have died. Problem started the last growing season (2014) and has gotten worse in 2015 - see pictures. Was a beautiful tree with leaves to the ground. Tree is about 5 feet in height. Nothing unusual has changed in the area that is planted in the 22 years the plant has been there. Is there anything I can do to revive this valuable tree or do I remove it and start over? Howard Rosen

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Japanese maples are tempermental plants, thin-barked and shallow rooted. They commonly will suddenly decline or die.

Yours may have suffered winter damage from our harsh winter. It's impossible to say what is the problem exactly unless you can find a specific insect or disease symptom. Note that half of plant problems are not insect or disease related, but simply environmental.

All you can do at this point, is prune out the dead branches. If the tree still looks worth saving and doesn't look too bad, you'll just have to wait for it to fill in with new growth. Do not fertilize, which just make growth more tender and susceptible to damage.