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I got given an acer about this time last year, and put it in a pot because I didn't have anywhere ready to plant it. It did fine last summer, and looked good in the spring with new leaves coming out, but then the tips started dying back (colour going out of the stems and leaves dropping off), from about the middle of April. I tried cutting the worst affected stems back, but it has continued to spread. Now most of the leaves are wilting or look like they are dying. I'm in the Midlands in the UK. I have been watering it through drier spells, we've just had a week of quite a lot of rain.

Is it verticillium wilt, or something else? Is it a goner, or is there something I can do to save it?

picture of my unhappy acer

Edit: Still looking for an answer on this, although by a few days later basically all the leaves had shrivelled up and dropped off. I think it is most likely dead given it's late spring/early summer here. But I'm still interested to know what caused the problem, whether I need to clean the pot up before using it again (and what to clean it with), and whether there are certain plants I should avoid putting in the pot if it's a disease that can be transferred between species.

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It needs to be in a sheltered position as cold winds can scorch the leaves. It definitely doesn't want to be waterlogged. The RHS have info here on growing Japanese maples, including in pots:

https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/popular/acer/japanese-maples/growing-guide

To quote from the RHS: "Japanese maples are ideal plants for growing in containers. Plant in a John Innes No. 2 potting compost or John Innes Ericaceous with 25% added sharp sand, which gives good drainage. Keep the compost moist, but not soaking wet, and feed in spring and early summer with a slow-release fertiliser or liquid feed."

To tell if it's dead, scratch the bark with a sharp knife (feel free to practice on a shrub you know is alive). If you see green underneath the bark, it's still alive. No green and it's most likely deceased.

  • thanks for the response. It had John Innes No. 2 compost. It was already well into spring and initially looking healthy, so I'm not convinced that it was cold winds. It went gradually and then rapidly downhill. Is there a disease that might have caused that? – Izy Jun 1 at 21:20

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