Red Japanese Maple health question

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Ted Rook, Oct 28, 2016.

  1. Ted Rook

    Ted Rook New Member

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    NY state USA
    I have a question about the health of a red Japanese Maple tree that I am thinking about buying to plant in my garden as the centerpiece of the lawn. I am in NY state about 60 miles NW of NYC, the climate here is 10F in February and 90F in July, the location is full sun.

    The tree is a mature red Japanese Maple, probably a Bloodgood variety, about 10ft tall, 10ft across and having a six inch trunk. It is growing in a large container at a local nursery and is located in what appears to be an unfavorable location in the stoneyard section of the nursery standing on gravel close to stacks of stone where summer heat may be extreme. I like the size and form of the tree, and the price is attractive, it is one third the price of a similar sized specimen tree growing 100ft away.

    However the price is still a lot of money and I want to try to avoid being stuck with a tree in poor condition, which may be the case. This tree has full foliage, however the foliage instead of being deep red is dull brown and there is some withering all the way round not just on the sun-facing side of the tree. The owner says this is due to "heat". I am concerned about the health of the tree, in particular the extremes of heat and cold that happen every year, and possible damage to the roots. Is the condition of the foliage caused by the unfavorable location in a very hot spot? If so, is this something that is permanent or temporary? Is there another explanation for the dull and withered leaves? Have the roots been "cooked" and damaged? If so, when relocated to more favorable conditions in my garden may the roots recover? Or is the explanation an unfavorable combination of temperature, moisture and feeding? When relocated to my garden can I expect normal leaf color and texture to be restored in future?

    Thoughts, opinions and suggestions are all welcome, please chime in, thank you


    This is the tree in question

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  2. AlainK

    AlainK Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society 10 Years

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    nr Orléans, France (E.U.)
    It does look like a tree that suffered from heat, rather than a diseased tree.

    To me it should be OK, but maybe you can wait for other replies.
  3. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    KS -> northern AL, USA
    Ted, that tree has a gorgeous form, I can understand why you want it. :)

    I concur with Alain, it looks like primarily heat stress - the gravel probably has reflected light/heat onto the tree, and it likely hasn't been watered quite enough for such an exposed location. Plus, it could be rootbound in that pot, which would also add to the stress the tree is under. I would suspect that once the tree has had the roots loosened/untangled and is in the ground, it will be much happier and recover quite quickly. The overall color of the leaves (the dull brown/reddish green) is normal foliage color at the end of summer; very few red maples have truly red leaves all through summer.

    Bloodgoods are a fairly hardy variety, so I don't think you need to worry overly about it making it through your winters; larger trees tend to have more resilience than smaller ones when it comes to stress, etc. Does the nursery provide any sort of warranty on the tree (ie, replace or refund should it die/not make it through winter, or a set period of time)? If you really wanted an expert opinion from someone in your area/zone, I would call Diana Smith at Topiary Gardens in Marcellus, New York; I would trust her opinion of the tree completely (easily half my collection is from her).

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