Explore Plants

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
    
 

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
6 ratings

Monday - April 30, 2012

From: Lufkin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Scorched leaves on Red Maple from Lufkin TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a Red Maple that we planted in Lufkin, TX about a month ago and fertilized about 2 weeks ago. We water the tree often. The leaves have become scorched looking on the outside of about 1/3 of the leaves. What can we do to make the tree healthier?

ANSWER:

Our first suspicion is your tree may be suffering from transplant shock. In the South and Southwest, we always recommend that woody plants (shrubs and trees) be planted in the cold weather of December to February. The trees are dormant then, and damage to roots or trunk is not quite as dangerous, plus you will not be asking a  plant to draw up enough water and nutrient through its tiny fragile new rootlets to survive.

We also recommend that you not fertilize trees, especially natives, especially soon after they are transplanted. The fertilizer wants to force the plant to grow more leaves, which just adds to the stress the tree has already gone through.

To check whether your tree is planted where it belongs, we checked our Native Plant Database for the common name "red maple." Four species of the genus Acer showed up so we selected Acer rubrum (Red maple) for our example.

This USDA Profile Map shows the this particular red maple is native to Angelina County, where it can enjoy the acidic soils that maples prefer.

Read this USDA Forest Service website on Red Maple. Scroll down to "Damaging Agents" and see if anything there sounds familiar.

On the whole, however, we think the problem is in the planting time and perhaps the fertilizer. Knock off the fertilizer. Water by sticking a hose deep down in the earth surrounding the roots and let it dribble until the water comes to the surface. Do this once or twice a week unless you are getting lots of rain, for about 6 months.

 

From the Image Gallery


Utah service-berry
Amelanchier utahensis

Red maple
Acer rubrum

Red maple
Acer rubrum

More Trees Questions

Cover oak roots with a pond from Round Rock TX
December 22, 2012 - Hello! I have looked for this answer. We have 2 huge old beautiful live oaks. One is very close to the patio and house, and the other is about 20 feet of the house. Thus, part of their root systems ar...
view the full question and answer

White flowers to plant in front of evergreen tree screen in Altoona PA
June 15, 2010 - I have planted about 30 evergreen trees (as a screen). I would like to plant a row of low maintenance whitish flowering bushes or low maintenance large flowering plants in front of this row. Any sug...
view the full question and answer

Wasps on live oaks from Sinton TX
August 20, 2012 - Wasps on my live oak trees. What is attracting them? Does this hurt the tree?
view the full question and answer

Controlling oak suckers in Austin
January 26, 2012 - I live in Austin TX and have one particular native Oak tree in my back yard with a large bed around it. I don't plan on planting anything else in the bed since it is already nicely landscaped along ...
view the full question and answer

Desert willows not doing well in Navarro County, TX
May 16, 2009 - Planted 3 new desert willows , 3-4 ft.in February. Live in East Navarro County and soil is clay with slight slope to Richland Chambers lake area. Had a wet spring. These plantings appear not doing we...
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.