Is this branch dieback on my Japanese Maple?


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Hi all,

I bought a Japanese Maple earlier this year (early summer) and am experiencing some sort of a problem, possibly some form of dieback. I am not sure what the age of the tree is, but I do know it is in a 25 gallon pot and cost about $330 from Home Depot.

I still have not planted this tree yet because I had read that you should wait until fall to plant these trees in my area due to high summer heat. I live in Alexandria, VA (hardiness zone 7b).

The problem I'm having is that the branches (and subsequently, the leaves) seem to be dying from the tips of the branches inward. The affected branches also may be turning a darker color, but since this is my first time owning this tree I'm not sure if this is a normal branch color or if this is also part of the problem. The color they are turning is maybe purple or brown, I am a bit colorblind but that's what my wife says.

There are also some signs of leaf scorch but I'm not sure if this is related, and if it is due to underwatering or sun/heat exposure. I have maybe not been as judicious as I should have been with a watering schedule, but I had also read that these trees are susceptible to root damage from over-watering and to therefore err on the side of underwatering -- I have since read contradictory information saying that they should be well-watered, so not sure which source to believe.

My plan had been to cut off all the affected branches to stop this problem from spreading and begin watering more frequently. However, when I went out to begin trimming today, I realized that the problem is a bit more widespread than I realized. Not only am I worried about shocking the tree in a major way with the extensive level of pruning that would be required (followed by a necessary ground-planting before temperatures drop too far), I'm also worried that if I cut off every branch showing discoloration that I will be left with hardly any tree.

Therefore. I turned to online messageboards in the hope that I could get an answer from someone more knowledgeable about A) what problem I have and B) the best way to proceed.

I greatly appreciate any and all help, and thanks so much in advance.

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Welcome Johannes. :) All the bare stems look like new growth to me with leaf buds forming. I'd leave those alone until next Spring when they should produce new leaves. Most Acers (Japanese Maple) are deciduous so will start dropping their leaves in Autumn in preparation for winter dormancy. They are plants that prefer shade or semi shade and protection from wind which tends to burn the leaves and eventually weaken and kill them.
 
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Hi and welcome.

We have two big acers, that we've had for years. Each year we get a bucket load of branches that die off, but they are replaced by new ones.

As has been suggested just leave it for now.
The branches that die back go a pale grey to white in the winter.
 
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We have two acer palmatums.


I keep these well watered and in really hot weather I give them a mist spray around 2.00 pm. It helps keep their fine leaves cool and prevents scorching.

We've had this one 35 years

P1020702.JPG


and this one around 20.

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They would both be much larger, but I shaped an regularly prune them to stop them getting too big.


Acers lend themselves to training. We'd had this about two years.

P1050225.JPG


Three years later it looks like this.

P1000562.JPG



This is our "lollypop acer" in our front garden.


It started off thirty-four years ago in the back garden, we'd had it a few years. But was in the way of the Japanese tea-house I was building. So I moved it to the front garden, shortly after this photo was taken. Wrong time to do it but it survived. I watered it every day for a couple of months.

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I prune about six inches to a foot off it every winter to stop it getting too big.

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As a genus they are quite resililient if they aren't kept short of water,
 

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