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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.

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

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Tuesday - December 29, 2009

From: Oakdale, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Snow damage to non-native Japanese maple in Oakdale NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My beautiful 10 year old miniature Japanese Maple was damaged by heavy snow this year. Two of the biggest limbs cracked under the weight of the snow and are just barely hanging on. Can I repair them and save this tree? Your assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

ANSWER:

We are sorry to hear about your tree damage, and even sorrier about the extreme weather you have been experiencing in the Northeast this year.

First, we would like to point out that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the region in which they are being grown. Acer palmatum, Japanese maple, is native to temperate areas of Japan, Korea and China, and therefore out of our range of expertise.

This USDA Plant Profile of New York State and Long Island shows that Acer palmatum does indeed grow in the area of Suffolk County, which is USDA Hardiness Zone 6a, within the hardiness zone of the Japanese maple, Zones 5b through 8. Although not native, we understand this is a valuable and expensive tree. The snow loads which broke the branches on your tree are, hopefully, not that common and we can understand your wishing to preserve it. Pruning and recovery of this tree is really a job for a certified, trained arborist, and we suggest you get advice from such a specialist. 

 

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