Idk what this Japanese maple wants :(

I bought this tree in early spring. I had it where it is now where it gets sun until about 1p. It started looking as you see now, so I moved it to where it basically only got sun for a couple of hours. It didn’t seem to like that, so I moved it back. I think I just wasn’t watering it enough at first. Some buds started forming on it recently. One of them leafed out and the leaves immediately shriveled up and died. :frowning: Now I’m thinking it’s getting too much sun or did they just die because it’s summer and it shouldn’t be leafing out? I’m at a loss. My plan was to repot this into a grow box with an akadama/pumice mix, but now idk if I should until it shows that it’s healthier.

1 Like

Hi, looks like leaf scorch. What is the average temperature past month? Has it been sunny and windy?
You surely better to wait for spring just before buds open with repoting.
Maples are better on semi-shaded spot during the summer. I did place mine this year under other plants facing South where it gets maybe 20-40% of direct sun light through the gaps in between leaves of above placed plants - I’ve never seen it happier without a single dry spot as it tends to have due to sun/wind scorch usually. Also japanese maples specifically but not only prefer watering early mornings only. If shaded this is enough for them for the day unless extremely hot/dry conditions appear.
It won’t look better this year if you change the conditions to this tree if this is the case of it’s drying leaves but try to apply it next season after repoting.
Good luck :slight_smile:


I thought it could be sun scorch as well which is why I moved it to more shade. It wasn’t that hot when it first happened though, but the sun here in SC can be brutal. It goes from feeling like spring to summer in like a week. I knew that this season was a loss for it, but just trying to figure out what to do for next season. Thanks for the reply!


Put it under another tree, on the ground. Typically JM are understory strees. It needs shade, like @CoffeeCherry said. I’m in Texas and mine do this sometimes. I just had one go from happy to scorched over the weekend of the 4th. It will lose 70% of the foliage, but that’s ok. I’ll move it to a more protected spot of the yard. It will remain somewhat summer dormant and then leaf back out in a month or so. I have been through this before with my larger maples like the one you have pictured.
Mine remain in larger pots like the one you have or larger. They are not likely to ever make it to a bonsai container. They are yard trees. They live around the pool and on the deck, under the shade of other big trees, just FYI. I have started taking cuttings from them and we will see what happens. Most Japanese maples are not strong enough to survive on their own roots, which is why they are almost all grafted.
Good luck!


Is that why most maple bonsai are trident maples? The two I have are grafts for sure. Pretty bad ones too lol.

Short answer is yes. The lacey leaf varieties in all colors of the rainbow are seldom root stock. Some varieties are strong enough to grow for awhile but peter out over time. That’s why I have left them as yard trees and I’ll play with some cuttings or cultivars that have been proven to be able to thrive on their own roots in a local climate. Those verities are usually trademarked. There is one here in Texas called Shantung that I am currently messing with but the internodes are too long to be quality bonsai. Pretty yard tree tho.

1 Like

I have found that my maples get scorched pretty easy if they dont have a top dressing to keep moist. But all mine are in very free draining soil (1:1:1 akadam:lava:pumice with some pine bark)

Since ive been using the top dressing, the soil stays more moist on hot days. That soil looks to be all organic though, so I would use caution on top dressing because it might stay too moist -until you get it in better soil.


Yeah, I got them earlier this year and then started to get back into bonsai. I was watering it frequently though to ensure that it had enough…at least I tried to. I’ve moved it back under the porch for now where it only gets a couple of hours of sunlight when the sun rises. We’ll see how it goes. :confused: I know someone mentioned that these don’t make great bonsai, but I’ve got it, so I’m gonna give it a shot anyways. :man_shrugging:

Quick update on my ailing Japanese maple. I moved it into shade and it spent its summer dormancy looking horrible. A couple of weeks ago it pushed a new bud. This last week it has pushed a bunch more buds. I’m trying to find some good information on how to handle for JM in terms of bonsai design. I’m thinking that I’m supposed to let this put on its vascular growth for now. I’ll probably start to fertilize it too now that it shows signs of health. When it goes dormant I’ll remove a couple of structural flaws and I guess wire it out.

Any input on design? I’m thinking of chopping off those two branches that go off to the left to introduce more movement into the trunk. I’m still unsure about what I’m going to do in the spring. Trying to decide between going ahead and repotting into a bonsai pot or putting it in a grow bag on top of a tile.


Don’t you wanna give it a year of growth to thicken the trunk? Just keeping it lower in rather shade or only am sunlight being repoted in spring into big pot with good soil to help it grow madly… After that shorten all branches and start working on primary branches, secondary…etc. I would do that mainly cos the trunk however has just slight bend it looks interesting. A year of thickening would definitely add age to it and once those branches shortened it will look less leggy and more like a bonsai.
But that’s what I would do being it my tree :slight_smile:


I grow a number of maples but I am UK based. I’m with CoffeeCherry, I would let it grow out and strengthen next year, gain some vigour. I’m not an educator but that has always worked for me. Even moving house just 10 miles over here meant taking a few years to understand the best spots in my layout for certain trees and a bit of juggling.

Yeah, I’m not totally happy with the size of the trunk, so I was tossing around the idea of putting this in a grow bag. I’m also not exactly happy with that base either. That root just kinda sticks out there. It really isn’t get great of a graft, so I considered ground layering as well.

Main issue is that I don’t really have anywhere to plant it in the ground. It apparently doesn’t like a single drop of direct sunlight and there are no large trees around me to provide shade. :confused: I could repot it in this current pot just to get a tile under it and see if I can get the roots sorted out.

I probably should be patient with design decisions for now. I have an idea of what I want now, but waiting could lead me to a better decision later. If I don’t change my mind then nothing lost. Patience truly is the hardest part of bonsai. :weary:

1 Like

But it’s worth it :slight_smile:

1 Like

What is the variety and where do ytou live? Is that A japonicum or palmatum? Looks like wind burn. I am in Texas and have over 100 maples in the ground and in pots and no problems with sun. Wind will definately cause that problem, especially if the leaves are not hardened. Not from lack of water and don’t overwater!

I agree with others, let things grow for a year and start then.

I honestly don’t know. I got it from some random stand at a plant festival this past spring. I could be wind burn. It’s sorta windy where it was. I have a planted lace leaf that did fine though and it’s even more exposed. Same amount of sun.

I was having the same issue then i switch over to osmosis water. Try useing osmosis water. I live in los Angeles and its hot and dry here. It was 95 today and the maple is green and looking good it didn’t have its leaves burn with the intense sun beating at it all day…so i think its working


Any advice for osmosis set up?

I’m gonna try rain water this year

Are you going to treat the water?
I have tried collecting water in the past. Only problem Southern California gets so little I gave up my endeavor.

1 Like

But yourself a 150 per day unit. You only need the bare bones. Not all the under sink stuff. It’s important to remember that pure reverse osmosis water is not usable, as it comes out the TDS will be very low around 3-20 parts per million. I add carbon filtered tap water back to it to bring the TDS up to around 85-85 PPM. this gives me water with a Ph around 6.8. If your having trouble with water quality this is by far the best way to get constant results. However making RO water is quite wasteful. For every 1 gallon of RO water you will waste around 4-5 gallons.ósmosis-inversa-fases/dp/B07B8P5NGD?ref_=ast_bbp_dp
This is what you would need but in the 150 gallon per day. If you buy smaller you will wait for ever for it to fill. Hope this helps. You will never look back once you change over.