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?


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

Tuesday - July 17, 2012

From: Redding, CA
Region: California
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Problems with maple tree in Redding CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a 2 yr. old October Glory tree that is looking bad. It leafed out this spring, but not as much as the others. In total I have 9 red maples along a fence row about 15 feet apart. The trees on either side of the sickly one look great. They are watered deeply once a week. The leaves on the tree are a lighter green in color than the other trees, more sparse and look dry and wilted.


According to this USDA Plant Profile map, Acer negundo (Ash-leaf maple) is native to Shasta County, in north central California. However, according to this Arbor Day Foundation website, what you have is a cultivar of Acer rubrum (Red maple) which, according to this USDA Plant Profile map, is native only to the eastern half of North America and not in California at all.

We like to check on whether or not a plant is native to the area in which it is growing, because if it is not, that could explain the problems the plant is having. However, in your case, this appears to be a problem with this one tree out of nine. A tree only two years old could certainly still be vulnerable to transplant shock. We're assuming that all your trees were planted at the same time and in the same manner, so if just the one has transplant shock, it must hark back to something that happened before or during the planting of that particular tree. The trees roots may have been rootbound when you bought it, and if they were not clipped to open up the root system, the roots could still be wrapping around in the shape of the pot and strangling the tree.

This Southern Living article on 'Autumn Glory' recommends it highly but also mentions transplant shock and root strangling. It is very difficult to correct errors made in planting. One possibility is that the roots of that tree have poor drainage, in which case the yellowing of leaves could be due to chlorosis. You could attempt a fix on that by adding an iron supplement to the soil around the suffering tree. Root damage may be preventing the new rootlets from accessing minerals and nutrients from the soil. Don't overdo it and treat only trees showing that symptom. Chlorosis is more likely to show up in alkaline soil but, again, if the other eight are all right, your soil is probably right for the maple.


More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Newly planted nuttall oaks from Houston TX
November 16, 2012 - I recently purchased two Nuttall Oak Trees in Houston Texas (October). They are both 15' or taller. I planted them within 24 hours of being delivered, watered them in, staked them, and within 3-4 d...
view the full question and answer

Chipmunk in the garden.
August 27, 2008 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a rogue chipmunk this year (never had one before doing this) who is eating roots and digging holes in all my plant containers. I have tried Plant Skyd (excellent deer r...
view the full question and answer

Chlorosis in sycamore in Kyle TX
August 04, 2011 - I'm trying to assist an elderly neighbor of mine with a plant issue. We have designated street trees in this community, our street being a Sycamore. The previous foreman out here called it a Mexica...
view the full question and answer

How to treat bark damage on oak tree
November 15, 2011 - I have an oak tree approx. 50 ft., live in austin, texas. the tree has dropped bark about 3-4 ft above ground, in a section of 4 inches by 8 inches, and the tree appears dark where the bark was. is ...
view the full question and answer

Chlorotic leaves on yaupon in Austin
April 04, 2011 - My yaupon holly looks chlorotic, it is 7 years old, I do not feed it, just a little seaweed occasionally. I am a totally organic gardener.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center