Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Problems With Japanese Red Maples Not Leafing Out

...
Japanese maple image by Jana Lumley from Fotolia.com

When Japanese maples fail to leaf out or they produce sparse or an unusually small number of leaves, often it can be traced to a few common causes. Weather extremes of heat, cold, wind and excessive sun can affect foliage development as can disease and drought. Often a combination of conditions and stresses are involved. When the roots and branch wood of Japanese maple trees remain alive, the tree often can be salvaged and the foliage restored the next spring.

Tree In Dormancy

Japanese maples are deciduous trees and have a dormant period in the winter when the leaves are shed and the branches remain bare of leaves. Depending on your specific cultivar and climate, a Japanese maple can remain leafless from November through April.

Branch or Bud Death

Leaves will fail to form on branches that have been damaged or killed by freezing temperatures or disease. Though rare in Japanese maples, fungal and viral root rot can kill the roots and phloem wood of the tree causing tissue death and ceasing leaf production. Dry, desiccated or brittle twigs and branches that cannot flex without snapping are all signs of tissue death. There are no treatments to cure root rot and disease damage, but sometimes the trees can outgrow the damage with generous watering and fertilizing to speed up new woody tissue development.

  • When Japanese maples fail to leaf out or they produce sparse or an unusually small number of leaves, often it can be traced to a few common causes.

Winds & Drought

Japanese maples are susceptible to wind damage that can cause bud kill, preventing a tree from leafing out. Wind also can defoliate young and mature leaves from branches. When the tree is severely stressed for water, the woody tissues can die and leaf buds, if present, will fail to swell and unfurl. Drought-stressed trees also can experience wilt and leaf drop. In extreme cases of prolonged drought, the tree will die, the branch wood desiccate and no leaves will be produced.

Related Articles

Mulberry Tree Diseases
Mulberry Tree Diseases
What Makes Knots in Trees?
What Makes Knots in Trees?
Beech Tree Diseases
Beech Tree Diseases
Leaf Diseases in Beech Tree
Leaf Diseases in Beech Tree
Why a Leyland Cypress Tree Is Turning Brown
Why a Leyland Cypress Tree Is Turning Brown
Jane Magnolia Disease
Jane Magnolia Disease
Deborah Maple Tree Diseases
Deborah Maple Tree Diseases
What Is Killing My Trees From the Top Down?
What Is Killing My Trees From the Top Down?
What Effect Does a Leaf Miner Have on a Tree?
What Effect Does a Leaf Miner Have on a Tree?
Why Are My Trees Oozing Sap?
Why Are My Trees Oozing Sap?
Diseases of Oak Trees in Texas
Diseases of Oak Trees in Texas
Maple Tree Leaf Diseases
Maple Tree Leaf Diseases
How Long Does It Take for a Tree to Grow Back Leaves After a Drought?
How Long Does It Take for a Tree to Grow Back Leaves...
Garden Guides
×