red japanese maple leaves drying up branches dying


Hi my 15 year old red Japan Japanese maple seems to be dying some branches were completely dead after last winter and the leaves are drying up, curling up and dying. the nursery gardener advised fertilizer spikes which I did a month ago but it didn’t help. The tree has done well in the past and get plenty of water. the site is partially shaded but the tree gets late afternoon sun. see attached photos
A post on your site mentioned split bark on a maple mine seems to have a lot of split bark and the photo 7066.jpg looks like there is mold growing in the split the splits go down to the wood
Thank for any help


We receive numerous questions regarding Japanese maples. The following is from our archived posts:

It’s not clear why your tree would be healthy for nearly 12 years then become ill this year.  Wind burn, a common cause of leaf scorch, where leaves turn brown and curl, would likely have shown up before now.  Similarly, we’ve not had the hottest of summers, although the periods between rainfalls has been pretty hot and dry, so your tree may be begging for water.

We have had a number of questions about curling Japanese maple leaves.  The following may be helpful:

  • Brown curling leaves on Japanese maple  this includes a link to our Toronto Master Gardeners Guide Growing Japanese Maples, which provides lots of information on how to care for these trees and what can afflict them. Consider amending your soil with organic matter, ensuring a consistent supply of water (the soil around the tree should not be allowed to dry out)
  • Another possibility is that the tree has a fungal disease called verticillium wilt, which will eventually kill it. See Japanese maple . Other pests like aphids or spider mites could be the culprits. Less likely possibilities are anthracnose or leaf scorch.  Examine the leaves carefully to see if you have insects.
  • SF Gate’s Verticillium wilt on Japanese maple  provides additional information.

I suggest that you contact an arborist for a final diagnosis.  If you don’t know of one, check out Landscape Ontario  for a list of arborists in your area.

Another one of our archived posts titiled Damaged Trunk on a Japanese Maple gives information on the proper cultural practices to help your tree.