Japanese Maple – Delayed Freeze Damage

Q: I have a 20 ft. Japanese Maple in the front yard. After the late freeze of Easter 2007, all the leaves turned brown and fell off and were replaced with new red leaves. In the last week I have noticed a lot of these new leaves are turning brown and dying.

A: Local pruning expert Norm Mittleider owner of Art of Pruning www.art-of-pruning.com says:

“The loss of the second set of new leaves would indicate a lack of sufficient energy reserves in the tree.  Due to this, it’s most likely that stems and branches may die as well.  Recommend a light feeding with a fertilizer having a low N-P-K value such as 3-4-5.  In addition to fertilization and limited pruning, gardeners should look at protecting the crown of their maple trees, especially the lace leaf varieties. Many of these trees now have insufficient protection from bright sunshine. Without a good leaf canopy to protect the upper trunk, it will be susceptible to sunburn, which, in severe cases, results in die back of the crown – leading to more exposure and more damage. For my clients with laceleaf Japanese maples with exposed crowns, I will be erecting a protective cover of shade cloth to help the trees through this summer and aid in their recovery.  ”

photo courtesy of Norm Mittleider

photo courtesy of Norm Mittleider

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