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I have a Japanese Maple tree that we planted 6 years back. It is on the east side of the lot and gets morning and afternoon sunlight. I have not done much to care for it and it has not grown in size at all in 6 years. What do I need to do so it grows in size? I am in Northern California.

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  • JStorage, it looks like your maple is buried too deeply in this picture. Could you pull the soil away from the trunk until you find the roots? The cambium might be compromised. I'd prune out all the dead stuff if the trunk is intact. Japanese maples are not meant to be 'fast' growing. But something is wrong if this is the 6th year. Have you fertilized? That might be the problem. I really think it is too deeply buried and the cambium is in trouble. Check that out, please, and let me know? No bark should be beneath the soil at all, not even an 1/8 of an inch. – stormy Sep 20 '17 at 10:06
  • @stormy - every year new leaves show up so that is not an issue. When you say buried too deep what do you suggest? Remove the soil till the roots are exposed and leave it that way? Also, any recommendations on the type of fertilizer to use would be helpful? – JStorage Sep 20 '17 at 19:58
  • Pull the soil away from the bark as far as you can. You just have to keep an eye on the base of your tree. Jap Maples are happy with the extra moisture and acidity of the soil. There are other solutions but a bit more work and may risk your tree. A balanced fertilizer, one with at least the 3 macro chemicals. I really like Osmocote. Lasts and lasts and works and I did it MAYBE once per year. The basic fertilizer needs taken care of, done deal for awhile. I feed the soil with decomposed mulch. Water, once in a while and deep deep deep. Works for me because I always forget the water... – stormy Sep 21 '17 at 5:38
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It has grown, and about as much as I'd expect in six years for a healthy Acer palmatum variety, if you include the dead twigs at the top. It's simply showing signs of dieback, which is usually caused by verticillium wilt, and is very common in Acer palmatum (japanese maple) varieties. Prune back all the dead shoots showing at the top and throughout to live wood now. You may find the dieback is worse next year, or it may improve, there's not a great deal you can do once it's set in except keep your fingers crossed.

Information on dieback here http://homeguides.sfgate.com/prevent-twig-dieback-japanese-maples-22287.html though it's a little late for preventative treatment now.

  • whoa, this is interesting, Bamboo! This just might be the 'bee's knees' who the heck made that saying?...pruning with sterilized pruners before and after will certainly help. Verticillium wilt I thought was faster than that but heck, this makes sense. I gotta go look at your info site... – stormy Sep 21 '17 at 7:32

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