How to Prevent Twig Dieback in Japanese Maples


When the leaves of Japanese maple trees (Acer palmatum) have fully matured in the autumn, the landscape is illuminated in a variety of colours, including lime green, red, orange, purple, and deep crimson. This explosion of colour is triggered by the colder weather. As the cold of winter gives way to the warmth of spring, the leaves of Acer trees undergo a transition from their dormant state throughout the winter to their brilliant display of colour in the spring. The tree requires little attention once it is established and thrives in hardiness zones 5 through 8 according to the United States Department of Agriculture. After determining the underlying reason, issues with Japanese maples, such as dead branches, are amenable to treatment.

History of the Japanese Maple

The Japanese maple got its name from the country of Japan, where it was first used as a landscape ornament because of the vast girth of colourful leaves it produced. According to Ridgeview Garden Centre, the tree is also one of the most popular choices among bonsai artists. This is because bonsai artists develop the tiny, delicate shape of the tree by self-stunting, which contains the tree’s growth. There are now over 300 varieties of the plant, each with distinctively shaped leaves. The plant was first documented in Japan in the seventh century. After years of cultivation, the leaves of the numerous Japanese maples have taken on a variety of forms, ranging from sprigs that resemble feathers to shapes that resemble stars.

The tree originally came from Japan and was brought to Sweden in the 1800s. In 1820, it was brought to the United Kingdom. It wasn’t long after that that people started finding it in various locations throughout the Eastern coast of the United States. The bonsai form of the Japanese maple is around 1 1/2 feet tall, although the tallest of the Japanese maples may reach over 30 feet in height. Because of its propensity to spread rapidly into wild areas after establishing itself in cultivated areas, the Japanese maple has been placed on a “do not plant” list in a number of states in the United States today.

Japanese Acer Leaves

The “palmatum” part of the scientific name “Acer palmatum” refers to the hand-shaped and serrated leaves of the acer tree. When spring approaches, the two to five segments of the leaf that branch out from the middle and become visible to the naked eye are known as petioles. The leaves remain green throughout the summer months, but when the temperature drops in the fall, they change to their autumnal hues.

In the months of May and June, clusters of tiny red flowers appear, and the pollination of these flowers is the responsibility of insects. Later in the year, a fruit seed with a bluish-green hue that is called a “samara” will develop, and when it reaches maturity, the wind will blow it away. The bark of a Japanese acer is often a smooth greenish-gray colour, and it has a somewhat uniform appearance. If you want the leaves to have the most vibrant colour, you should make sure the tree gets some sunlight or light.

You may anticipate a growth of between one and two feet each year from the trees since they are sluggish growers. The Japanese maple requires little in the way of maintenance, yet it is rewarded with stunning coloration if it is given the appropriate amount of light and water.

Japanese Maple Problems

The Japanese maple, in addition to having the ability to cross borders, is susceptible to a number of different illnesses. The sagging and greying of the branches, which are symptoms of a dying back in an acer, may be produced by either an excess or a deficiency of water. When the climate is similar to that which the tree experiences in its home Japan—fog, rain, and moisture—the tree is able to adapt to its surroundings the best. If the tree’s roots are rootbound, which effectively causes the tree to be strangled, then its system is not receiving an adequate amount of water.

Verticillium wilt is a fungal disease that is caused by a fungus that lives in the soil. Symptoms of the illness include leaves that wilt and curl and branches that yellow and droop. The Acer tree is susceptible to both of these diseases. According to an article published by the Mercury News, the fungus stops the tree from absorbing any water, and as a result, the tree is perishing from thirst. When the temperature starts to become cooler, you should cut all of the branches that are impacted and periodically water the tree. When the whole tree is infected with verticillium wilt, the disease is fatal; thus, the soil will need to be treated by a trained specialist. Garden Tech recommends waiting at least four years before putting any other plants into the contaminated soil after removing the invasive species.

The Japanese maple needs the sun in the afternoon since the leaves get discoloured if they are exposed to too much shadow or too much direct sunlight. By applying mulch to the soil around the trunk’s base, you may prevent the leaves from sprouting too soon in the spring. It is important to keep the soil moist but the tree itself should not get its feet wet. This is a sign of overwatering a Japanese maple. According to Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, the tree may be harmed by a late spring frost as well as by strong winds; thus, planting the tree next to a wall is recommended to provide warmth and shelter from the wind.