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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.

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Saturday - July 16, 2011

From: Lebo, KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Seasonal Tasks, Transplants, Trees
Title: Leaves on 3 year old maple turning brown in Lebo, KS.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Hello, one of our five Maple trees which is is 3 yrs. old now, we saw a week ago that the leaves started turning brown and dropping. My question is: Will the tree survive this and return healthy next spring? We have been watering it since this happened, e/o day. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Some thoughts that race through Mr. Smarty Plants’ head: What has changed recently in the plant’s world? (watering, fertilizing, insect attack.....?) Have all of the leaves dropped? Is the plant alive? What about the other four maples?

This may sound strange, but even after three years, your plant may be experiencing transplant shock. Being transplanted is is a stressful experience for a plant, and in some cases it can take up to five years before the situation stabilizes. This  can vary depending on the type of plant, soil conditions, amount of moisture, and other environmental factors. Right now in Texas, we are having a drought.

I’m going to refer you to some web sites that deal with tree planting, transplant shock in trees, and watering tips (you should reduce the watering to only once a week at most).

Tree planting

Transplant shock

   north scaping.com

   gardeningknowhow.com

Watering tips

To determine if your plant is living, you can do the “thumbnail test”. Take a small upper branch and scrape of some of the outer bark with your thumbnail. You are  looking for green (living) tissue. If you find none, move down the stem a little bit and try again. Continue down the stem until you find green tissue; if none is found, I'm afraid that your tree isn’t alive.

 

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