I have the most stunning Acer in my garden that is now about 14 years old. This year about only 50% of it has leaves. Is it dying? I do not want to cut it back if there is a chance it will recover and I don’t want to risk traumatising the remaining plant. I have scraped the bark of the non budding branches and they don’t appear to be green. This is a real feature in our garden and I would be very sad to lose it. Should I try repotting it. I haven’t done this for about 5 years but I feed it and I remember reading that Acers like to be pot bound. Perhaps it was the bad wind storms earlier in the year, but previous years it has survived the winter fine. Any help or suggestions please?
Thanks for the extra information. I wondered how that Acer dissectum at the back had got so big if its contained in a pot! Well of course, it isn't, because it's rooted into the soil beneath through the pot...
As it's rooted into the ground, I'm sorry to say the most likely explanation is Acer dieback. This is quite common in Acer varieties (especially those in the ground) and is sometimes caused by verticillum wilt disease, though not always. Hopefully that isn't the cause, because if it is, further dieback may occur next year.
In the meantime, cut back to live wood - there is no point in leaving dead wood in place, but don't cut back too far into live wood at this time of year, just to where it begins. Given it's rooted into the soil, repotting isn't a viable option, so it will have to stay as it is - it doesn't need it anyway as it's got free access to the open ground beneath. Certainly use a general purpose fertilizer (Growmore or similar) around the base of the tree towards the end of this month - this might help to keep it going for longer and keep it as healthy as possible.