Japanese maple - no leaves

Asked May 10, 2019, 9:31 AM EDT

My Japanese maple did not leaf out this year. It is in a spot that frequently floods in the spring. Could this have killed my tree? The branches do not seem dead. It seemed to form tiny buds that never opened.

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1 Response

Many trees and shrubs have died from last year's abnormal rainfall leading to flooded, saturated soils that drown roots. Most plants cannot tolerate constantly soggy soil because the water pushes out all the oxygen in the soil, which plant roots must have.

Because all the plant's roots do not die at once, a plant can often manage to produce next year's leaf buds, but as it declines, it does not have enough strength to open the buds and the buds die.

To determine if a branch is, indeed, dead: bend the branch. Dead branches will snap. Live branches are flexible. Also, scratch the bark. Green tissue underneath bark means the branch is alive. Lack of green means it is dead.