Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Non-native Coleus canina, animal detererrent
August 18, 2006 - I had purchased a plant about 4 years ago at Lowes that I planted in my flower gardens that was a pet deterrent. I cannot remember the name of that plant now? I have spoke to Lowes and others and I am...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating non-native Asian Jasmine in Austin
December 02, 2010 - I have a large bed in front of the house full of jasmine that was planted by the builder 25 years ago. What suggestions do you have to eliminate it and prepare the bed to plant native flowers and pl...
view the full question and answer

Nativity of Salvia coccinea (scarlet sage)
September 14, 2011 - Is Salvia coccinea native to Florida? In wikipedia they say it is native to Mexico.
view the full question and answer

Graywater with soap on trees and shrubs from Austin
June 18, 2012 - I previously asked you about using rinse water from our top loading washer to water trees and flowers. I have two more questions: Can I use the soapy water to water trees and shrubs? Then I get...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Chinese pistache in Eagle Pass, TX
June 14, 2009 - Hi Mr Smarty Plants!! I just bought a young chinese pistache tree, is no bigger than 7 feet. I've never had one of these trees before, I'm about to plant it and I would also like to fertilize it...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.