Japanese maple not leafing out

Asked May 20, 2018, 9:37 PM EDT

I have a grafted dwarf Japanese maple tree that has not leafed out. It had normal looking buds earlier this spring. We had a period of warmth followed by a freeze, and now the buds all look dead. The tree seems to still be alive. The branches are flexible and still have some green in the inner layers. I haven’t been able to find the name of the maple but it has green, very skinny, very long leaves. We have other species of Japanese maples that have leafed our appropriately. We also had a young coral bark Japanese maple tree that seems to have suffered the same fate but has completely died. What could be the most likely cause of this live tree not leafing out? Is there anything I can do to try to revive it? It is currently in a big planter box. Thank you!

Frederick County Maryland

1 Response

Early bud break followed by a freeze can result in winter damage. That may be what you are seeing.
Also likely is that the tree is in a planter box. Was it given any extra winter protection for the root area?
The roots of a container-grown tree will experience colder temperatures than if it were planted in the ground and is considered less hardy by about 2 hardiness zones. If it went into the winter under stress, like from drought, that could also play a role.
The fact that the wood is not brittle and still green beneath the bark is a promising sign. There is nothing you should do. Just wait and see.