Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Japanese Red Maple Displays Damage from April's Buffeting Wind

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Japanese Red Maple Displays Damage from April's Buffeting Wind

Article excerpt

Q: Can you tell me what is wrong with my ornamental Japanese red maple? The leaves on one whole side have all curled up. It is about one year old and was doing beautifully this spring, then this problem suddenly appeared.

A: There was injury to the new foliage of many garden plants throughout the region during that extreme windy spell in mid-April, but Japanese maples appear to have taken the worst hits. My guess is that the damage you describe is worst on the west and southwest sides of your tree. The scorched appearance of the leaves resulted from a combination of buffeting of the tender tissue and the drying action of the sustained wind.

The key is not to overreact. Don't prune any damaged branches without first checking to see if there is live tissue. Lightly scratch the bark with your thumbnail. If green tissue is present, the branch is still alive. On healthy trees with good vigor, it will take time for dormant buds to activate, but new growth should develop over the next several weeks. On stressed plants with poor vigor and low food reserves, new growth may not occur, and the injured stems will eventually wither and dry.

For now, be patient. Keep your tree well watered if a dry weather pattern develops. Injured trees that have not previously been fertilized this spring will benefit from a light application of fertilizer now.

Let this serve as a reminder that your tree is poorly sited. Most Japanese maples should be planted in a location protected from prevailing wind and direct afternoon sun. I would recommend that it be transplanted to a more favorable site. This should be done during the dormant season, beginning next fall after the leaves drop, but before the new foliage starts to grow again.

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