Red maple tree

Asked June 14, 2019, 12:52 PM EDT

We have one approximate 8 year old red maple tree planted on a hillside that has grown normally with no known problems until late last month. All of the leaves are tightly curled and dry, although not falling off the branches. I looked for evidence of insects including mites, nothing was found. The hill provides good drainage and with above average rainfall water does not appear to be an issue. Any thoughts?

Harford County Maryland

1 Response

How long ago was the tree planted? Do you see any physical injury around the trunk or at the base of the plant? Any cracks or holes in the trunk? How deep is the mulch?

Decline like this might be due to failure to establish well. Was it a container grown tree? Were the roots spread out into the planting hole at the time of planting? If not, the roots may not have established into the surrounding native soil, or there could be a girdling root.

It looks like the tree may have been planted too deeply. I do not see the root flare at the base. When a tree is planted too deeply and has too much mulch around the root crown, it can begin to decline.

Too much water leading to root decline is another reason trees can fail, but you mentioned that the drainage is good in this area. How was it last year with the excessive rain?

Those are some possibilities that could have led to decline. Since the leaves are dry, it sounds like it will have to be replaced, I'm sorry to say.