Japanese Maple – Trimming Dead Branches

Q: I planted a Japanese maple last year on Mothers Day. The tree gets full sun two-thirds of the day. It seems pretty healthy but a few limbs have died. Should I remove them?

A: Cut the dead limbs off. The tree has no use for them and it will likely try to grow new foliage to fill their place. Japanese maples vary in their tolerance of sunshine. Those with thinly dissected leaves seem to tolerate less sunshine but some of the broad-leaf types grow fine in full sun. I’ve seen ‘Bloodgood’, ‘Emperor 1’ and ‘Sango Kaku’ do very well in baking sunshine, but they all were mulched out to the ends of the branches and were watered regularly in July and August.

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