Hi, I have a shishigashira japanese maple planted in a south facing location on the side of the house. It is approx. 10 yrs old and has grown to almost the top of the 1st floor.
In the spring of 2020 there was a cold spell that caused the bark to start peeling. We went to the garden centre and they recommended we protect the exposed trunk which is the black substance you see in the picture. There are alot fewer branches with leaves this year and the branches that are green have pretty brittle bark.
Is the tree dying? Is there more that I can do to help it recover?
I have more pictures if that will help but this form only allowed me to attach one.
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.
Severe cold in late spring, after plant tissues have swollen, can cause Japanese maple bark to crack, split and peel. Depending on the amount of damage, the tree may or may not recover.
I am not sure what the black substance recommended by the garden center is, but it looks like pruning paint. This material is no longer recommended as it may impede healing and encourage the growth of rot organisms and insects.
The recommended treatment for damaged bark from spring cold is to prune away all damaged branches and stems, and continue regular tree care.
The tree damage looks substantial in the photo. Your tree may not recover. An arborist can confirm if the tree can be saved.
You can find a certified arborist on the Landscape Ontario site: https://landscapeontario.com/ or on the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) site https://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist/findanarborist