Japanese Maple not red


have a 2-year-old Bloodgood Japanese maple that is around 7 feet tall. i notice that its leaves at the top are bright red but at the middle and bottom they are burgundy and green. will the tree become bright red as it grows? my family is eager to see a bright red tree. pictures attached


There are a number of reasons that the older leaves are greenish burgundy.

First, this may not be a problem at all. Most Bloodgoods exhibit their best, brightest colour in spring and fall. There is a natural tendency for the leaves to become more burgundy than bright red during the summer. Extremely hot dry, summer weather can result in the tree “losing” its colour temporarily that is, becoming more greenish-burgundy.

Second, if the tree is not getting enough light, that is, it is growing in shade for most of the day, that can also cause the loss of the bright red colour you are seeing on the newest leaves.

Third, young trees that are growing very rapidly can also lose their colour, which will return when the growth spurt slows down. Your tree is only 2 years old, but already 7 feet tall, so that may be a contributing factor.

Finally, it is possible the tree is stressed by poor soil conditions / lack of nutrients, but in that case, you would not have what seems to be very healthy new growth at the top and the leaves likely would be more yellowish-green. Thus, I believe that one, or a combination, of the first three factors may be the answer.

If too much shade is the problem, then you should move the plant this fall. Ideally, to a location that gets early morning sun and afternoon shade.

If the tree’s location already meets that requirement, then wait to see what happens next summer, when we can hope that there will be more temperate weather. I strongly suspect that your tree is simply responding naturally to this summer’s intense heat and drought. You may see the colour “normalize” once the cool weather arrives.

September 1, 2021