Amelia, a Davey blog reader in California, recently asked, “My Japanese maple's leaves are turning brown at a fast rate starting on one side of the tree. This is new.... Is it due to lack of water?”
Burnt leaves usually point to a problem called leaf scorch. It comes in three forms. Find out which your tree has and what to do about it.
There are three kinds of leaf scorch: nutrient-related, bacterial and weather-related, which is sometimes caused environmental leaf scorch.
1. Environmental leaf scorch occurs when tree leaves have literally been burned by the sun, hot temperatures or a general lack of rain.
2. Bacterial leaf scorch looks about the same as environmental at first glance, but has a few distinctions:
3. Nutrient scorch occurs when the tree is deficient of a nutrient vital to its health–usually iron or manganese. Look for brown in-between the veins of the leaves at the tips of the branches.
The first two types typically aren’t a threat to trees that are established and healthy. You can find quick tips on treating these below.
Bacterial leaf scorch, on the other hand, becomes more dangerous each year. If you suspect it, talk to your arborist. If you catch it early, you can treat your tree each year to prolong its life. Or, if it’s too late, you may need to remove your tree entirely. Again, an arborist will tell you the next best step.
Healthy trees, free of pests, diseases, and other stressors, are best at fighting this off.
Help your tree maintain vigor with these steps: