What kills established Japanese maples?

New York, NY(Zone 7a)

What kills a JM that had been in the same location for 40-odd years? This was a tall, broad, open tree with a red single palmate leaf resembling Bloodgood. Is there likely to be something in the soil that is bad for replacement trees?
(My thanks to the person who reminded me not to bury this in an existing thread.)

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Can you post some pictures or at least describe the symptoms?

New York, NY(Zone 7a)

I apologize for not having a picture, but there wasn't any distinctive symptom (insect, fungus, leaf color change) I could see when I examined the tree. There were always (for decades) a few twigs each year that didn't leaf out; then one year it was whole branches; then in the next year or two the whole tree.

Winnetka, IL

It sounds like your maple succumbed to Verticillium wilt, in which case you shouldn't plant another maple there. There are a number of plants that are particularly prone to verticillium, among them Maple, American Smoke Tree, and Redbud. A plant can seemingly die overnight or take years to show symptoms. I had a gorgeous 'Omurayama' that behaved much like your maple, and it proved to be Verticillium. Sometimes one can see the fungus in the wood (see pic below), although that's not a definitive sign. If you want to be sure, send a sample to your state extension center, and they will test it. Sometimes the plant can grow 'through' it, so there is a theory that a boost of nitrogen will help the tree.

It's a lot easier to plant a genus that is resistant to verticillium, such as dogwood, cornelian cherry, crab apple, seven son flower, and persian ironwood. A quick search on the web will bring up tons of links to lists of verticillium resistant plants.

Good luck, and sorry for your loss.

Thumbnail by plantaholic186
Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Man that's awful to lose a plant like that, I hope you find another that you enjoy as much.

New York, NY(Zone 7a)

Thanks so much! I'll talk with my mom about possible replacements.

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