My maple only likes Rain!

jimmyk5000

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I have an acer palmatum (not sure of the exact type but its red and comes from Nara) that has lived in London for c.5yrs. It has a healthy covering of moss and up and till recently has done very well with London tap water. I stop my weekly liquid fertiliser as usual around July.

However, recently it has started behaving very strangely..

In late August the larger leaves started to fade and wilt/ roll up. This is about a month or two earlier than usual. The vast majority of leaves were effected with older ones initially preferentially impacted. There didn't seem to be on obvious pattern to the distribution (ie an isolated branch) and now all the leaves are impacted. Initially, I thought I had under watered the tree but increasing the volume and frequency of daily didn't seem to help.

With great sadness I accepted that my tree was dying, perhaps from a root fungus of something..

A week of so later something bizarre happened, it rained (sadly not that bizarre for London) and as if by magic all the leaves unfurled and spread out their 5 points. The leaves appeared healthy again and stayed so for c.6hrs after the rain before returning to their previous rolled up appearance. Over the past month the same thing has happened every time it rains but not when I water the tree with Tap. In the past few weeks a few of the leaves started falling off but the majority remain attached and rolled up....until it rains again.

Does any one know what’s going on.. is it fungus…is it London's hard water.... is it the moss….is there anything I can do...

Please help!
 

penumbra

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I have no idea what your tap water is like or the kind of fertilizer you are using, but it sounds as though you had a build up of salts and chemicals that the rainwater helped flush from the pot.
Alternately, the plant may have been very thirsty.
If you have questions or concerns about the roots, you simply have to slip the plant from the pot and have a look.
 

Forsoothe!

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It's possible that the core of the rootball is not getting wet when watered, and water is just passing by the outside edges of the interior of the pot. See what happens when you sink the pot in a pan of water instead of watering the top. If it hasn't been repotted in 5 years, that's suspect.
 

penumbra

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If it hasn't been repotted in 5 years, that's suspect.
If this is the case, it is not only suspect, it is the cause. That would be an awfully long time to go between pots for a maple.
Slip it out of the pot and see what's going on before its too late.
 

Arlithrien

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I have an acer palmatum (not sure of the exact type but its red and comes from Nara) that has lived in London for c.5yrs. It has a healthy covering of moss and up and till recently has done very well with London tap water. I stop my weekly liquid fertiliser as usual around July.

However, recently it has started behaving very strangely..

In late August the larger leaves started to fade and wilt/ roll up. This is about a month or two earlier than usual. The vast majority of leaves were effected with older ones initially preferentially impacted. There didn't seem to be on obvious pattern to the distribution (ie an isolated branch) and now all the leaves are impacted. Initially, I thought I had under watered the tree but increasing the volume and frequency of daily didn't seem to help.

With great sadness I accepted that my tree was dying, perhaps from a root fungus of something..

A week of so later something bizarre happened, it rained (sadly not that bizarre for London) and as if by magic all the leaves unfurled and spread out their 5 points. The leaves appeared healthy again and stayed so for c.6hrs after the rain before returning to their previous rolled up appearance. Over the past month the same thing has happened every time it rains but not when I water the tree with Tap. In the past few weeks a few of the leaves started falling off but the majority remain attached and rolled up....until it rains again.

Does any one know what’s going on.. is it fungus…is it London's hard water.... is it the moss….is there anything I can do...

Please help!
I think the unfurling is due to humidity. One of my palmatums got fried by the sun and the entire tips/fingers of the leaves curled up, but they uncurl whenever it rains heavily. They are still brown and dead but return to their normal shape from the excess moisture until it dries up again.

Going to need pictures to determine what's going on for sure and if it's possible to save it.
 

Shibui

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It's possible that the core of the rootball is not getting wet when watered, and water is just passing by the outside edges of the interior of the pot. See what happens when you sink the pot in a pan of water instead of watering the top. If it hasn't been repotted in 5 years, that's suspect.
My first conclusion too.
The pot slowly fills with roots until there are no spaces left for water. Eventually it becomes really difficult to water effectively. Water does not reach the centre of the pot and roots continue to take water out so the pot gets drier and drier despite watering. Rain is more patient than any human so tends to soak slowly in for better penetration.
I would also soak the whole pot each week to try to keep the tree alive through the rest of summer and autumn. Repot at the next suitable opportunity.

There are some other possibilities but less likely than dry from root bound. Pictures may add some crucial info that the description has missed.
 

Forsoothe!

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Growing seasons around the world vary widely and it is difficult to get a perspective on what someone says when we don't know where in the world they are. If you go to the upper right hand corner and click on your Icon, you can add your location and people will be able to customize advice for you, and you might connect with another local.




<<<<< It will show here.
 

Bonsai Nut

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First, welcome to the site!

Second, I think you are answering your own question as you ask it. (1) The tree has done well on London tap water for years (so the problem likely isn't the tap water). (2) It recently started to do poorly, after you had already stopped fertilizing a while ago. (3) Rain alleviates the problem.

So it sounds like either London changed its water chemistry, or that something about the way rain is watering your tree is giving the tree relief from what sounds like desiccation. I agree with the advice that suggests a combination of the tree becoming root-bound over time, and that it has become harder and harder for you to fully water the tree without leaving it in a stream of water for a long period of time. In the short term, I would see if soaking the tree provides relief. In the early spring, make sure you repot.
 

sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

Anything in a pot is going to most enjoy that top layer that is in the optimal dry/wet cycle. It's easy for that to end up choking out the rest.

Length of watering changes so much!

Sorce
 

Forsoothe!

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Welcome to Crazy!

Anything in a pot is going to most enjoy that top layer that is in the optimal dry/wet cycle. It's easy for that to end up choking out the rest.

Length of watering changes so much!

Sorce
Yeah know how I hate to be picky, but I'm going to argue with that, as unaccustomed as I am to arguing. While plants certainly do like the top of the top soil, and when moss is present to keep it damp, roots will grow at the top and even infiltrate the moss with roots, most root growth is terminal. The majority of roots will grow in a straight line until they bump into something that changes their direction, in this case the pot, whereupon they follow the pot in a continuous circle, at the bottom of the pot. I always trim roots when repotting such that I keep the roots in the center of the pot the same length at the outer roots in hopes of all the roots growing straight down into the media, but many species do not have as many roots central, under the crown (trunk) so that the dominate growth is the outer ring of roots growing, as above, along and about the interior surface of the pot.
 

jimmyk5000

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If this is the case, it is not only suspect, it is the cause. That would be an awfully long time to go between pots for a maple.
Slip it out of the pot and see what's going on before its too late.
Many thanks for the tip, please see attached pictures of the tree out of the pot, could this be the…. Root cause? Is it too late?
 

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jimmyk5000

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Growing seasons around the world vary widely and it is difficult to get a perspective on what someone says when we don't know where in the world they are. If you go to the upper right hand corner and click on your Icon, you can add your location and people will be able to customize advice for you, and you might connect with another local.




<<<<< It will show here.
Thanks for suggestion, have added to profile, tree is in London, England btw
 

jimmyk5000

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I think the unfurling is due to humidity. One of my palmatums got fried by the sun and the entire tips/fingers of the leaves curled up, but they uncurl whenever it rains heavily. They are still brown and dead but return to their normal shape from the excess moisture until it dries up again.

Going to need pictures to determine what's going on for sure and if it's possible to save it.
Many thanks for your help, it’s very much appreciated. Please find two pictures of the Leaves. The first is their now neutral rolled up state and the second is the same leaves in an unfurled state after heavy rain.
 

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jimmyk5000

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First, welcome to the site!

Second, I think you are answering your own question as you ask it. (1) The tree has done well on London tap water for years (so the problem likely isn't the tap water). (2) It recently started to do poorly, after you had already stopped fertilizing a while ago. (3) Rain alleviates the problem.

So it sounds like either London changed its water chemistry, or that something about the way rain is watering your tree is giving the tree relief from what sounds like desiccation. I agree with the advice that suggests a combination of the tree becoming root-bound over time, and that it has become harder and harder for you to fully water the tree without leaving it in a stream of water for a long period of time. In the short term, I would see if soaking the tree provides relief. In the early spring, make sure you repot.
Many thanks for your suggestion, I have tried soaking the tree in tap water and sadly it made no difference. Interestingly after popping out of the pot for the below photos the root ball was dripping wet after some light rain.

Can I ask, if indeed the photos do confirm it’s root bound with a dry core would you advise repotting urgently now, or increasing watering frequency over winter and waiting till early spring?
 

jimmyk5000

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I have no idea what your tap water is like or the kind of fertilizer you are using, but it sounds as though you had a build up of salts and chemicals that the rainwater helped flush from the pot.
Alternately, the plant may have been very thirsty.
If you have questions or concerns about the roots, you simply have to slip the plant from the pot and have a look.
Thanks for tip, have had a look at the roots, pictures in the belo reply. They look healthy (and a bit bound) to me but i don’t really know what I’m looking for..
 

jimmyk5000

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I think the unfurling is due to humidity. One of my palmatums got fried by the sun and the entire tips/fingers of the leaves curled up, but they uncurl whenever it rains heavily. They are still brown and dead but return to their normal shape from the excess moisture until it dries up again.

Going to need pictures to determine what's going on for sure and if it's possible to save it.
Many thanks for your help… Based on the pictures, what’s your verdict, is it possible to save the tree?
 

sorce

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Kinda gotta know what the buds look like to tell for sure.

Reckon it's due for a Repot once it warms up.

Seems in a condition packed so full I'd be worried about the pot breaking in a freeze.

Sorce
 

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