En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - July 18, 2009

From: Redmond, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Leaves shriveling on non-native Japanese maple in Redmond WA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My husband and I bought a Japanese Maple 3 years ago which we planted in an old wine barrel for our patio, along with some ivy and grass to keep the surface covered. Until recently, it has been doing really well except I noticed that the lower branches were starting to dry out. We live in the Seattle, Washington area and have been experiencing a particularly hot and dry summer (following an unusual snowy and cold winter). It has not rained here significantly for the last 8 or so weeks. Today, I noticed most of the leaves on the tree have shriveled up. Is it too late to save the tree? What should we do to save it.

ANSWER:

The Acer palmatum, Japanese maple is a native of China and Japan, and therefore out of our range of expertise. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are focused on the use, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being planted. Native plants which are accustomed to the climate, rainfall and soil of an area will need less fertilizer, water and maintenance.

From About.com: Landscaping read this article on How To Manage and ID Japanese Maple. Read also our How-To Article Container Gardening with Native Plants.  Although, as we said, the Japanese maple is non-native to North America, still, the same principles should apply in your case. Our thinking is that if you have been relying on rainfall to irrigate your tree, its leaves have every right to shrivel. That, and the extremes of temperature you have been experiencing, would be enough to stress any plant. Remember, in extreme heat and cold, a potted plant has only the potting soil to insulate it, while in the ground, it has the whole Earth insulating it. Since we are not familiar with the plant, we would suggest you first move it into more shade, if it is not in shade now. If the top inch or so of the potting soil is dry, start letting a slow dribble of water trickle into it every day or so. If the soil is very dry and the drainage in your pot is good, most of the water the first time is going to go straight through that dry soil and drain. Try lightly watering the soil, and go back in an hour or so and do so again. You don't want the soil soggy-a plant can die just as fast from roots rotting in too much water as from drying out due to too little water.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Milkweed and non-native goatweed in Austin
May 28, 2011 - Which parks or fields can we find many milkweed and goatweed in Austin, TX? I live in Austin, TX 78757.
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of non-native crepe myrtle
March 26, 2009 - I have a white crepe myrtle that never bloomed last year..my pink ones were beautiful. What can I fertilize with to promote blooming for the white one? And, yes, it is in the sun!
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native Betula pendula 'Youngii' (Young's Weeping Birch)
June 04, 2009 - We planted a Young's Weeping Birch on the side of our house here in NJ a few weeks ago and it seems to be thriving. When we purchased Fred (which is what we've named our youngster), he was in a pot ...
view the full question and answer

Ants in vegetable garden in Muskogee OK
May 25, 2011 - I have ants in my vegetable garden this spring - I think because of all the rain. I think they are the culprits that ruined my spinach and swiss chard. They have left all the lettuces alone..but you...
view the full question and answer

Competition between Horseherb and Chickweed
July 04, 2014 - Ok, sorry I did it wrong the 1st time!? I live in Houston, and I have chickens! I also have mass amounts of Horseherb, and I want to buy some chickweed seeds and plant it for my chickens! My question ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center