Japanese maple tree question

Oakland, CA


I have a beautiful Japanese maple tree that has been a great delight to see change colors with the seasons. This year however the tree has been attacked by pests (as you can see from the picture) which we've recently identified: deers. The buggers have nipped its young leafs leaving nothing from reach.

I know how to address the deer issue but what of the maple tree?... Will new leaves grow to replace those eaten or do I need to prune the branches to where the leaves are? Many of the tips are grey... does that mean they're dead and should be cut?

Any feedback would be much appreciated, thank you.

Thumbnail by vicbee
Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

New leaves should grow to replace the ones that got eaten. I'd leave it alone for a little while to see what grows back and in a few months if there are branches that still look dead then you could trim them out.

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

If you branches look a bit ragged, you could trim any branches to the first bud just to clean them up. And ecrane is correct they will releaf.

Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy
Oakland, CA

Thank you for your feedback. I'll do my best to keep the deers away and see if the leaves grow back or trim...

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Some people put up a cage using stakes and chicken wire and set this up a few feet away from the plant / tree that is being eaten till it recovers, I can tell you the tree will recover and send out new foliage, I have deer roaming through our garden all year round, they even bring the little Bambie's to show them which of my plants are the most juicy or tender, please don't believe anyone who tells you to grow plants that have prickles , they love Roses, all berry fruits with prickles, Mahonia even Azalea's NOT Rhododendrons and most bulbs etc seem to be off the menu for the deer.

Some people hang up old silver CD's on a string as the breeze blows them the deer seem startled but, you have to move the CD's about every other day. set up a squirting hose that works by sensors /body heat, the deer take of with this. My experience is you just have to be inventive to scare them off but you cant do this 24hours a day. Maybe in a couple of years time the tree will have grown tall enough that you can prune or cut off the lower limbs and the deer will not bother but move onto somewhere else. good luck, hope you get sorted out. WeeNel.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

The deer eat everything in sight - but I was surprised to see your tree - all three of our maples have been left alone! Browsing appetites are regional!

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

The damage may well have been done by Japanese beetles....they nasty critters plague over 300 different plants..and Japanese Maple is one of them. here is some info I found for you.


I use Bayer advanced on my Japanese maples and redbuds. The Jap beetles were so bad a couple years ago, they almost stripped the young trees bare and wreaked havoc on the roses.


Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Yes, I forgot about the japanese beetle - but I don't think they would just impact only the bottom of the tree as the photo shows. Darn things DESTROYED our red twigged dogwood.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

The main culprit is either your population of deer and unfortunately we cant kill every deer even if allowed, they roamed the area long before we arrived.
It could also be some bug that likes the tender tips of the branches.
In my own case, if the deer don'tdon't get the tender tips of branches then the salt wind doeUntilntil you actually catch culpritsrits, there is no point spraying, as you will be spraying killers that don'tdon't even know you have.
I like to set up cages using garden posts or even canes and encircle this with chicken wire a few feet away from the tree, if theres no further damage, then definitelytely the deer, if the problem continues, it's some type of bug and you then have to find which bug it is.

Sprays for one type of bug are not suitable to go out and spray for all bugs, you can do more harm than good and possibly kill of good insects, there are bug sprays for all and sundry but you have to be selective where you spray and what you spray.opinionion of garden sprays are like humans choosing their toiletries, ydon'tochooseose to use hair spray asdeodorantant, you buy yopreferredrdeodorantrant, it's the same with garden products, there are hundreds to choose from but not all do the same job.

I really do think your problem is with deer and some people hang up old CD to shine and blow in breezeeeze and it works but, you have to move them around every few days but it is still better and safer than sprays that can harm other insects.
Good luck. WeeNel.

Virginia Beach, VA

Vic bee,

Looking at your tree, there are dead branches. I would get rid of them. I have a maple tree also and is posted at the hosta forum under "MY visit to Belle's garden" It is over 20 years old and i prune it often so it does not get big.


Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Belle-how can you tell the limbs are dead -- maybe just picked clean by the deer. That would been a significant prune if not dead.

Virginia Beach, VA

Try breaking the brown ones. if there is resistance then it is alive. If it is brittle then it is dead. Does ir make sense?


Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Belle, this is recent damage from the local deer...the maple was sprouting leaves when the deer got to it. It should resprout before any trimming has to be done.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I agree, since it was deer that took the leaves off there's no reason to believe that those branches are dead. Assuming the deer can be kept away they should put out new leaves.

Mobile, AL(Zone 8b)

We used to have goats in our pasture. Each time they would get out they would go straight to my little Japanese Red Maple and strip it clean of all leaves. It must be a tasty treat. When it first happened I was devastated. I thought surely it had died because it stayed bare for a while.

I believe it stunted it's growth somewhat but it re-leafed each time. The goats have been gone for a few years and my little maple, tho still small, has grown quite a bit and looks great.

Harrison County, WV(Zone 6a)

Mine replaced it's leaves after being burned by frost three times this year. I have a Bloodgood Japanese maple and the damaged leaves fell off and it grew new ones. I am attempting to post a photo of my tree---I'm not really good with computers. ha Anyway, if your problem is deer, there is a product on the market that I use and it really works. It is supposedly environment friendly with natural ingredients. It has a rather unpleasant odor but that goes away after it dries (it's a spray) but the deer and rabbits still can detect it, well it works on WV deer anyway. It's also a repellant so they don't taste first, they just stay away. The product is called Liquid Fence and it smells like rotten eggs and garlic. Actually I'm used to the smell now so it's not a big deal. A master gardener friend recommended it to me and I was skeptical at first, then pleasantly surprised. After it is established on your plants it only needs periodic applications. I always reapply after a big rain. good luck


Thumbnail by pjo
Johnson City, TN(Zone 6b)

I agree on the Bayer Advanced for Trees and shrubs and the Bayer 3 in 1 for Rose bushes. I have tried all kinds of products and have not found anything that compares to it. I was having a bad mite problem on my roses and the 3 in 1 took care of it. What I like is that you just pour it around the tree. No spraying necessary. My roses were so bad this spring that I did the spraying anyway and I haven't seen any mites since.

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