curling fall leaves

Asked November 1, 2017, 6:40 PM EDT

My Japanese maple has turned color but part of the tree's leaves are normal looking and some on another large branch are curled up. No leaf drop has occurred yet. The tree was planted 10 years ago and has been thriving thus far. What's up?

Nevada County California

1 Response

Thank you for your question about your maple tree’s leaves. This is a common occurrence in maples, and particularly Japanese maples. It results from the plant not getting enough water. Maples have shallow root systems, and when the top of the soil dries out, especially for weeks or months at a time, the tree gets stressed and the leaves die. Maples don’t have tap roots like many other trees, so they rely on humans to provide moisture. You can also help the soil retain moisture by keeping mulch around the tree’s rootball. Just be sure it’s not more than an inch thick (as it will keep your supplemental water out), and keep it away from the trunk. Just leaving the leaves on the ground helps do this—as you’d find in the forest. Hope this is helpful. Good luck!