Dying Japanese red maple tree

Asked April 30, 2018, 1:41 PM EDT

How can I save my 30 year old Japanese red maple tree/bush shaped like a large turtle? Only a few leaves came out on its branches this spring. It is in a rock garden and does not seem to have had too much or too little water. I see no insects but there are several spots of mildew like substances on branches which have not produced leaves. I love it dearly and talk to it frequently and would hate to lose it. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. Thank you

Montgomery County Maryland decline japanese maple tree

1 Response

Japanese maples in general are subject to many environmental stressors such as drought, poor drainage, too much moisture, temperature extremes, too much mulch, planting too deeply, soil compaction, etc. Also, with Japanese maples the bark can freeze and kill the cambium which can cause dieback. This is a possibility.

All you can do is prune dead branches, keep the tree watered during dry periods, and make sure mulch is no thicker than several inches and away from the trunk. There is not mulch else you can do. You will most likely need to consider removal in the future. See our publication on abiotic plant problems http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG86%20Common%20Abio...