Japanese Maple – Repair Big Split

Q: Limbs fell on my Japanese maple during the snow storm, splitting it apart. Is there anything we can do? Will it live?

A: Local Japanese maple expert Norm Mittleider says:

This Japanese maple was such a beautiful tree! Knowing that the tree was very healthy before the snow event and seeing the strong main trunk, I predict the tree will be able to recover, given enough time.

But it will take easily 5 years to again have some semblance of its former beauty …..and another 5 years to be back to being the wonderful focal point tree you had.

The lengthy process will include many decisions on what new growth should stay and what should be removed to develop a pleasing tree. The maple’s response this spring will be one of survival, with a tremendous amount of new, vigorous growth.

Though it will be very unsightly, with the temptation to cut back or remove this new growth, it’s very important that NO pruning be attempted until the fall, when a select number of these stems can be pruned. This will give the tree needed energy to sustain itself and help in the healing process.

If the tree is exposed to direct afternoon sun, due to the lose of its protective canopy, a shade fabric tent should be placed over the tree to protect it from sunburn damage that would further set back the recovery process.

Lastly, it is extremely important not to fertilize or over-water the tree, as either will have a negative effect on the tree’s response and recovery. A very light fertilization can be done in the fall.

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