En Español

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

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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 Trees Questions

Cherry Laurel for North Central Texas
May 16, 2010 - I want a small evergreen tree (approx 20'x 15')and would like to plant a Cherry Laurel. Would this be a good choice in North Central Texas (DFW area)? If not, any suggestions? Thank You.
view the full question and answer

Shrub to scrren house from dust from gravel road
July 28, 2013 - HI: We live in the foothills of Dobbins, California (2 hours North of Sacramento, Ca). I live on a gravel dirt road with traffic that goes about 45 miles an hour. When they drive by our house it lo...
view the full question and answer

Is my Crimson queen maple dying?
October 20, 2015 - Is my Crimson queen maple dying if it's leaves are turning brown?
view the full question and answer

Fruit on Mexican olive in Austin
June 05, 2008 - Does Mexican Olive set fruit in Austin? Does there need to be a male and female tree or not. How old does the plant have to be to set fruit? Mine is three years old but no olives. I need to know ...
view the full question and answer

Native alternatives for Japanese maple
September 05, 2007 - Hi, I am a landscaper trying to create a landscape in a shaded area with no sun. The person likes a Acer palmatum, but I am not sure it will grow there. We live in South Lake Tahoe. So I know of some ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center