Gardening Answers

How to revive Japanese maple half dead from heat?

| Posted in Southwest Gardening on

Hi, I live in Texas and with the excessive heat this summer, my six year old Japanese Maple has the top half dead and the bottom half survived with beautiful leaves. Can I chop off the top half as the tree is evenly divided with 50% top half dead and 50% bottom half alive? Thank you!!!!

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  1. User avater Moderator
    Dan_Southwest | | #1

    A photo of the tree might be helpful in generating suggestions, as well as more info about its age and routine care. A few comments in the meantime:
    Japanese maples can be tricky outside of their comfort zone of ideal conditions. It the tree has been quite healthy and vigorous for many years, it is unlikely that a hot summer alone would cause portions to die while other parts remain perfectly healthy. Drought and heat would usually affect the tree more uniformly. Take a look at the areas where the dead portions begin. Darkly discolored areas might indicate a case of verticillum wilt, a fungal disease that Japanese maples are quite susceptible to. This soil borne disease is usually impossible to get rid of completely. Pruning out affected branches (sterilize tools between cuts) and keeping the tree as stress-free as possible (proper watering, feeding, root zone protection) is the first step and trees can recover unless the disease is occurring below the graft union. Severe pruning may result in a wonky form, but with some skill and artistry you may create a tree with a lot of character over time. If this seems a bit too challenging, consult a reputable tree service for their opinion. Best of luck to you!

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