I purchased a Bloodgood Japanese maple on Sunday, and it already is
experiencing leaf burn. What could be the problem, sun exposure or
water? The nusury worker we purchased from stated our sun exposure
should be fine, but I am worried it is the issue. it has full sunlight
during the late afternoon, and i am in zone 9a i think. (Martinez
California) It was perfectly healthy Sunday, and by Monday it was
having issues. We water it everyday as it has been pretty hot. I read
that salty water can cause leaf burn too, how can i tell if my water is
salty? Could it just be transplant stress?
Maples are marginal in mild-winter areas of California. Additionally,
hot, dry summers can really stress them.
I'm a docent at Gardens of the World in Thousand Oaks. We have five
maples in our Japanese garden: Bloodgood, Coral Bark, red lace-leaf, and
two green lace-leaf. They are leafing out only now. By August, they
will start going dormant, showing significant leaf burn although they
all get some shade during the day.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
1. How did you get the tree home? Was it exposed to wind?
2. How deep did you plant the tree?
3. The new growth in elongation has probably not hardened off yet. If you
injured the roots a lot, this may be the cause. Pruning woody roots
correctly is great, yet at the wrong time can be a problem.
4. CAUTION: Do not over water. Just water enough to moisten the non-woody
absorbing roots which are in the upper 4" of the soil unless you planted too
deep. The biggest problem during dry times is over watering.
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Is your maple repotted or in the ground? If it's in the ground and
you're watering every day that is too much. I doubt however that root
rot will manifest itself so quickly. But, if your maple IS in the
ground cut back on the watering.
If your maple is in a pot, how big is it and what is it made of?
unglazed ceramic, glazed ceramic and plastic pots lose moisture at
different rates. Smaller pots will dry out faster than larger/deeper
If your maple was under shadecloth -- as is often the case at most
nurseries -- moving to an area that gets more sun can cause leaf burn.
Keep your maple *properly* watered and it should adjust by next year.
What you have to remember is plants are like us with regard to sun
exposure. If you're in an office all week and then go the to beach all
day on Saturday you'll burn too. Same with plant leaves. They need to
adjust to more sun exposure. Bloodgood is one of the more sun/heat
tolerant Japanese maples so your location should be okay.
I have a Bloodgood in a plastic 5 gallon pot that gets direct sun from
10am to sunset during summer months and as long as I keep it properly
watered it will show minimal leaf tip burn. Properly watered means
keep the soil moist. Never allow it to go completely dry but, don't
keep the soil too wet either.
On 18 May 2006 11:39:06 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
On 18 May 2006 11:39:06 -0700
With all due respect to David, Japanese maples do just fine in your
area. There are people who grow successfully in containers in LA also.
If late afternoon means after 4, it is unlikely sun is the problem. Bloodgood
is very sturdy and doesn't burn that easily; it was selected for these
characteristics. Of course it is possible that you don't have a real
vegetatively propagated Bloodgood, but some sort of seedling. Check to
ensure that the maple is grafted.
John is right, you are almost certainly over watering. If you water large
amounts when the maple has sun, that could potentially cause leaf burn.
Also wind is the main enemy of these plants, although a drive home
with an open window is unlikely to have done much damage. I can't imagine
tap water in Contra Costa county is so salty that it would damage the
tree, anyway. Doesn't the main supply to SF go through there?
Planting depth could give eventual problems but not so quickly. Wind is
most likely, and can certainly cause burn. Though a true Bloodgood should
be reasonably resistant.
My advice is: if the tree looks like its defoliating entirely, take it back and
buy a different one from someone else. And water maximum 2/3 times per
week. Maples like dry feet.
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Thank you all for the great information!!! we did bring the tree home
in the back of our truck, so leaf burn from wind would be a good guess.
When i said we were watering everyday, it is about 1 quart of water a
day which we thought would be ok. Is that too much? It is in a wood
container, i think it's 18". I will cut back on the watering a bit, and
just keep an eye on it and see if it gets better or worse. thank you
all again for your help.
A quart of water is definitely not enough for any plant in an 18 inch
Especially with the hot days we have had. A quart would evaporate in an
You should water the tree until the water runs out of the bottom of the
container. Then don't water again until the top 1-2 inches is dry.
This is probably a fair sized plant if it's in 18 inches pot.
The poor thing is drying up. Give it a good drink right away.
With the cooler weather it should adapt, but I would give it some shade
if the temps get hotter within a couple of weeks
One quart of water is definintely not enough water for any plant in an
18 " pot. The poor thing is drying up. Water the tree until the water
runs out of the holes in the bottom of the pot. Then do not water again
until the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry. A 1 inch mulch would help to
keep the roots moist and cool.
Like Emery said maples do grow well in Los Angeles. I live in Los
Angeles and all my Japanese maples are in containers. I know of a
gentleman who grows maples, both in the ground and in containers in
the San Joaquin valley area.
When you water containerized plants apply water till you see it start
to drain from the bottom. Your wooden container should have drainage
holes. If not drill some or find another container with adequate
drainage holes. When the top inch or so of soil is dry water your
plant. After a while you'll get the hang of how often to water your
plant in the coming seasons. Right now with temps in the mid 70s I'm
watering my 5 gal. maples about every 3rd day and my 1 gal. maples
every other day. My maples get direct sun from about 12p to 5pm. When
it gets hotter I'm going to have to increase the frequency of my
watering. 1 quart of water every day *might* be the problem depending
on the type of soil you have. Then again 1 quart may be too little
water and not enough water is getting to the smaller feeder roots that
are deeper in the pot. I'd advise you to get a good book on container
gardening, or better yet get a beginner's book on bonsai. While you
may not take up the hobby basic bonsai techniques like pruning, root
pruning, and transplanting apply to good container culture. Sunset and
Ortho books on bonsai are good and can be found at any garden center.
Riding in the back of a truck may have caused it depending on how hot
and dry the air is and how long the ride was. I still think it's a
watering issue. It's been my experience working at a nursery that over
and under watering plants is the main reason for most otherwise
healthy plants dying. 1 quart a day makes the soil on the top of the
pot look moist but I'll bet if you stick your finger in the drainage
holes you'll see the soil is dry because the water is soaking into the
top layer and not getting all the way down to the bottom of the pot.
Also I'd like to address Emery's advice to look for a graft scar to
determine if you may have a true to name Bloodgood. A tree having a
graft doesn't always mean it's true to name and a clonal offspring. I
have seen MANY so called Bloodgoods that were grafted yet were not
true Bloodgoods. It is a sad fact that the Bloodgood line is seriously
Hope this helps,
On 19 May 2006 07:59:34 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Yes this is certainly true. I have a feeling we'd agree that Bloodgood
is particularly notorious in this respect. I was referring to the peculiar
practice of selling seedlings as genuine cultivars, which as I understand
it is widespread in the US. Of course leading to further dilution of both
names and plants.
Thanks for the watering advice, BTW. My plants are in a different climate,
but I'm glad to know better how to deal with the very hot.
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If, by "leaf burn" you mean crispy leaf edges, this could simply be a
moisture deficiency due to transplant shock. Before you douse it with
fertilizer -- particularly nitrogen -- give it some time to settle and grow
sufficient roots to support the above ground growth. As with any plant, to
avoid stress, make sure it gets 1" of water weekly, whether rain or or from
Suzy, Zone 5, Wisconsin
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