Japanese Maple dying branches

Ophelia

Seedling
Messages
8
Reaction score
3
Location
Uk
USDA Zone
9
Hiya, I'm hoping someone here may be able to offer some advice. I have posted on a couple of forums but so far I have had no reply and I'm becoming increasingly concerned for my tree.
It is a Japanese Maple that I have had for some years. Last year I did a re-pot and it seemed ok. It is starting to come out into leaf all over but I have noticed that a couple of branches are still in bud and they don't appear to be swelling. The other odd thing is that these branches are orange/red in colour rather than the lime green of the branches that have leaves.
I have been feeding with liquid seaweed since mid-march and I did a foliar spray of Rhizotonic in slight desperation yesterday. I've attached some photos. There do appear to be some other dead areas in the other canopies but just odd branches.
I'm really concerned that it's a virus or disease that can't be cured. Any help would be greatly appreciated.20220411_105116.jpg20220411_105137.jpg20220411_105206.jpg20220411_105257.jpg20220411_105332.jpg
 

ConorDash

Masterpiece
Messages
2,688
Reaction score
3,104
Location
Essex, UK
USDA Zone
8b
Hello,

Someone better than me will reply, but what variety of Acer P is this?

Also other branches have clearly leafed out so thats a good sign. IF some branches have died off, personally, I would think of roots. Branches and roots hold quite a direction relationship. If a stem of roots dies off, it could directly impact a branch (someone can correct me if my understanding is wrong).
The red, discoloured branches do certainly seem like they are dead, but scratch test them, see if there is any green under there. The buds look dormant, like they were set last year but between now and then, the branches have died off so the buds will not be triggered. When scratch testing, start near the tips and if its dead, work your way back to find where live cambium starts. Get an idea of how much damage there.

Also, location and zone in your profile helps everyone understand your climate better, and advice given by those in your climate, is mostly more valuable to you for obvious reasons.
 

rockm

Spuds Moyogi
Messages
11,272
Reaction score
15,770
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
That color on the branches indicates the branch is dead.

This tree looks kind of weak.

The moss around the base indicates to me that the soil there is pretty dense, more dense than the surrounding mix...How was this tree overwintered? At the last repot, did you dig into the soil around the trunk or just comb out roots?

And please fill in your geographic location in your profile. It is crucial to provide meaningful advice.
 
Messages
207
Reaction score
201
Location
Italy
USDA Zone
9b
Someone better than me will reply, but what variety of Acer P is this?

Not an expert either, but it looks like it might be coral bark maple (acer palmatum sango kaku). The bark is supposed to be red, on relatively young branches. It loses the red color as it ages.

The fact that only the sickly branches appear to be red is puzzling though.
 

Ophelia

Seedling
Messages
8
Reaction score
3
Location
Uk
USDA Zone
9
Hiya thank you for the replies. I live in the UK and I overwinter in an unheated greenhouse. I last re-potted last year and was as careful as I could be just taking off the bare minimum from the top so it could drain better and also the sides. I agree about it looking weak.
 

penumbra

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,874
Reaction score
11,056
Location
Front Royal, VA
USDA Zone
6
There is not a lot here to go on, but yes there is significant die back and it is probably linked to root health. More information would be helpful to understand the problem.
How long have you had the tree?
How much of the remaining root ball was left?
What time of year was the re-potting done?
What is your potting mix?
 

rockm

Spuds Moyogi
Messages
11,272
Reaction score
15,770
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
Not an expert either, but it looks like it might be coral bark maple (acer palmatum sango kaku). The bark is supposed to be red, on relatively young branches. It loses the red color as it ages.

The fact that only the sickly branches appear to be red is puzzling though.
Hiya thank you for the replies. I live in the UK and I overwinter in an unheated greenhouse. I last re-potted last year and was as careful as I could be just taking off the bare minimum from the top so it could drain better and also the sides. I agree about it looking weak.
Hard to say, but I'd make a guess that the timid repotting may have resulted in the soil closer in around the trunk to remain soggy over the winter, while the exterior of the root mass dried down a bit. That situation can result in overwatering because the outer soil dries faster than the interior. The inner soil remains very very wet, setting up anaerobic conditions for rot. Optimally, Soil has to be uniform through the root mass.

FWIW, you have to be more aggressive when repotting. It is important to get into the interior of the root mass to clear out old roots and muck. By aggressive, I mean reducing the root mass by at least half and hosing out old soil, then selectively reducing the remaining roots.

BTW, I doubt this is sango kaku. The red color on the branch is a pretty common sign of tissue death in maples.
 

Ophelia

Seedling
Messages
8
Reaction score
3
Location
Uk
USDA Zone
9
Oh, crumbs! This is not sounding good at all.
I re-potted last year in early spring just as the buds were swelling ( I followed guidance from a book by Harry Harrington ) I was fairly timid and you can see in the photo I didn't go all the way to the trunk base. The soil I used was a pre-mixed soil I bought from Kaizen Bonsai which I have used for years and had no trouble with.
I'm assuming it's too late now for a re-pot. Is there anything I can do now to save the branches? Although they are red they are green when scrapped back.
 

rollwithak

Chumono
Messages
622
Reaction score
573
Location
Clovis, CA
USDA Zone
9b
Wishing you the best of luck, it’s a beautiful tree. If you’re at a stopping point, maybe get it to a bonsai nursery and see if they can help!

sending lots of good energy your way!!!! 🙏🏼
 

namnhi

Omono
Messages
1,625
Reaction score
2,633
Location
Houston TX
USDA Zone
8b
Everyone worst nightmare scenario. I don't why it would abort that two upper branches but kept the lower ones and the apex area. At this point there is much else one can do but trying to keep it healthy and redesign the tree.
 

rockm

Spuds Moyogi
Messages
11,272
Reaction score
15,770
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
Oh, crumbs! This is not sounding good at all.
I re-potted last year in early spring just as the buds were swelling ( I followed guidance from a book by Harry Harrington ) I was fairly timid and you can see in the photo I didn't go all the way to the trunk base. The soil I used was a pre-mixed soil I bought from Kaizen Bonsai which I have used for years and had no trouble with.
I'm assuming it's too late now for a re-pot. Is there anything I can do now to save the branches? Although they are red they are green when scrapped back.
who did you get the tree from? It's a pretty nice Japanese Maple, so I assume it wasn't from a mass market supplier...The seller might help you with immediate hands-on remedies--A complete repot is likely out of the question at this point (although JMs can be repotted in the early summer--but that takes a bit of expertise)--alternatively--you could push a chopstick through the soil in the muckier sections to aerate it and allow better drainage (a temporary solution). Next spring this tree will need a heavier root pruning/inspection if you want to stop the decline.

And FWIW, just because there's green under the red branches, doesn't mean they'll live. Likely they haven't finished dying off yet (and the process is mostly irreversible for them).

There is also an outside chance this could be related to verticillium wilt, which typically kills off maples section by section over time. Were the previous years leaves discolored?
 

Cofga

Omono
Messages
1,447
Reaction score
1,497
Location
Western NC
USDA Zone
7a
If you are near enough take the tree to Corin Tomlinson at Greenwood Bonsai in Nottingham, he knows J. maples. I tend to agree with rockm that you should have barerooted the tree and refreshed the soil completely. What soil mix was used? I know in the UK a lot of folks still use organic mixes but Corin tends to favor pure akadama. No matter what it is too nice a tree to ignore the issue.
 

Ophelia

Seedling
Messages
8
Reaction score
3
Location
Uk
USDA Zone
9
The person I got this from a friend that died some years ago. I was a member of a club but I think it may have disbanded.
I was wondering about the possibility of making some holes in the solid area and watering with Rhizotonic in the meantime and see if I can get it to someone with a bit more expertise. There is another club some distance from me but the problem I have is that I live in the middle of nowhere and can't drive and the club nights are on days my other half works. I'll get in touch and see if there is a workaround.
I knew it would be bad news, but hopefully, if I can stop it from spreading I may be able to graft a couple of branches in the future.
I'm so frustrated with myself for not having a bit more confidence when I was re-potting. What an idiot!!
 

rockm

Spuds Moyogi
Messages
11,272
Reaction score
15,770
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
Rhizotonic and fertlizers are exactly what tree DOES NOT need at this point. False sense of doing something. More unnecessary water...Rhizotonic is vitamins and other stuff. It isn't goign to help much if at all. of miracle. Sorry to be harsh, but the plant needs you to understand what it needs which is to watch the watering, provide open shade outdoors and back off a bit (for now) Too much care is what kills many bonsai over the first few years. Owners always want to "do something" when something goes wrong. Benign neglect should be taught as a fundamental care technique.
 

Ophelia

Seedling
Messages
8
Reaction score
3
Location
Uk
USDA Zone
9
Thank you for the all the help
I've sent an email to Corin Tomlinson, it's a bit of a trek (I live in Cheshire) but if he can help it'll be worth it. I'll also look at the other bonsai club. Not sure if I'm brave enough to go back to one, I had a bit of a hard time the last time I was a member of a club but if there is a chance of saving the tree I'll just have to grin and bear it.
Thank you all so much again.
I'll keep an eye on the thread just in case of a miracle and also to update if anyone is interested.
 

penumbra

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,874
Reaction score
11,056
Location
Front Royal, VA
USDA Zone
6
I have been thinking about this tree since I read this post early this morning and I see others with experience have jumped in here.
What I had been thinking about was what would I do? Of course having an expert look at the tree trumps everything else, but time is of the utmost importance here. In the absence of an expert or if timing would otherwise guarantee a dead tree, here is what I would do.
I would make several holes through the hard original root ball with a chop stick or even a long drill. I would put a coarse mix like pumice into the holes to keep them open. I would soak the entire root system in a 50/50 mix of H2O and 3% H2O2. This is what I would do simply based upon my experience in similair situations with plants I have saved. (not maples however).
If it is verticillium wilt, it is pretty hopeless.
 

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,386
Reaction score
4,574
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
Good job contacting Corin!

I’ve seen trees at the museum very occasionally spontaneously toss a branch or two during the winter. The Curator usually makes the call on what to do based upon his assessment of the foliage.

Most often it’s treat with a fungicide and watch closely all year, then repot in the next spring. Rarely he has us pull the tree and check it out, then do some minimal exploration and decide from there.

If it were me, a couple simple non invasive measures seem to be in order right now.

I’d double check your drain holes first. Its a simple thing. Then apply the simplest, safe fungicide out there , 3% H2O2 full strength.

Finally chock up one side of the pot about 4-5 cm.

I love the drilling idea @penumbra. I’ve used it for a number of trees and it helped each time.

cheers
DSD sends
 

Ophelia

Seedling
Messages
8
Reaction score
3
Location
Uk
USDA Zone
9
Just got in from making some holes in the root ball and to be honest it wasn't as compacted as I first thought which actually makes me worry more, but I am a worrywart at the best of times. Hopefully, I'll hear back from Corin soon and I can get it looked at.
I have also heard about Maples being notorious for losing branches for no reason, but I think this time I'm the one to blame.
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom