We had very bad hailstorm in late July which broke a number of branches off the Acer and left a layer of ice on the pot for 3 hours or more. The Acer leaves have slowly shrivelled as a reaction to the ice and damage, but the leaves didn't initially drop off. We are now in mid September and the leaves are starting to fall as new buds are forming and seem to be pushing them off (they are the biggest and reddest buds this Acer has ever had!). A few of the buds have opened and new bright red young leaves are brightening up what looked a very sorry tree. Most of the buds opening are on or close to where the wood was broken. Question: what will now happen to the buds that have formed, the majority look as though they will not open this year, but will they remain dormant and then open next spring or will the tree have a barren 2017?
No, those leaves will all drop off. That is the beauty of being a deciduous tree! Leaves are the most vulnerable, roots a step up but buried in the ground (not a pot) protects them and then the stem/branches that have a thick epidermis and dormancy that slows the vascular system down to a crawl. Dormancy means the plant is done making its own food for the season. Your trees have stored enough food to maintain minimal necessary functions during dormancy and getting rid of the leaves is a protective mechanism. This is why deciduous plants are so hardy. Conifers have leaves far more hardy than deciduous trees but even a few of the conifers have learned to shed their leaves ie.) the Tamarack or Larch.
Environmental triggers such as day/light hours, heat, cold, storms, rain can confuse plants. Some people would go so far to say this tree is 'telling the future' for weather such as we will be having an 'Indian Summer' a long, warm beautiful fall. I don't buy the woo-wwooooo stuff. As the climate changes globally (and I am NOT talking about this anthropomorphic global warming crap) this is how plants adapt and their genome changes to ensure survival.