What to Do When Your Japanese Maple Has Crispy or Brown Leaves

What to Do When Your Japanese Maple Has Crispy or Brown Leaves

We love Japanese maples for their elegant shape and spectacular color. But just like with all our trees, we don’t like when their glow is dimmed by leaf problems.

When one of our readers saw her Japanese maple’s leaves rapidly turning brown, she reached out for advice, asking if fertilizer or water could help.

To answer our reader’s question (and hopefully yours, too), let’s look at a few ways you can revive a struggling Japanese maple tree.

Three Reasons Your Japanese Maple Has Brown or Crispy Leaves

Before diagnosing your tree, think about where it’s planted, how much sun or shade it gets, and how often you water it. All these things can affect the look and feel of your Japanese maple.

Too much sun? Japanese Maple Leaf Scorch

How much sun does your Japanese maple get? If bright beams don’t let up for most of the day, the tree is likely suffering from environmental leaf scorch. Here’s how to remedy that.

Too little water? Japanese Maple Underwatering Symptoms

Say your tree’s in a shadier spot, but is still sporting dull, brown leaves that are crisp and curling.

In this case, your tree probably just isn’t getting enough water. Japanese maples might be small, but they dry out pretty easily without a steady dose of hydration. Perform this quick check to see if your tree is not getting enough water.

If your tree is, in fact, lacking water, give your tree this much water every week from here on out!

Spot any bugs? Japanese Maple Pests that Cause Brown Leaves

If the soil is moist and the sun isn’t the culprit, what could it be? Japanese maples are pretty tough trees, but not immune to pest problems. Aphids and scales are their top challengers.

The good news is aphids or scales likely won’t kill a Japanese maple, but they will put up quite the fight, turning leaves brown and causing them to fall early in the process.

Learn the difference between aphids and scales – and how to combat them both.

Need extra help diagnosing your sick tree? Get it here.


  • The Tree Doctor August 8, 2018 >Hi Karen, Trees typically lose a large percentage of their roots during the digging and transplanting process. Following leaf-out, the reduced root system can often struggle to provide the moisture needed by the foliage, especially during periods of high summer temperatures. To conserve moisture, the tree often shuts down some of the foliage to reduce water demands. Because your tree was recently planted, this is a distinct possibility as to why your tree is dropping some foliage. You could always have a certified arborist come out and check just to be sure. If you decide to go this route, you can contact your local Davey Tree office at (513) 370-2334. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you, Karen.
  • Karen Lambert August 7, 2018 >Hi, We planted a 7 foot Japanese Red Maple in the front yard in a somewhat sheltered area by the porch and windows. It has green wood and brown twig wood, but the leaves are turning brown although there are some green leaves, so I don't know what the problem could be. We have had some hot weather in NKY, and some rain, and water it about every other day or so. Could it be this is not enough water? I haven't really seen pests, but I will inspect it for that, too. We have a year warranty for the purchase, but I really want this beauty to grow and be happy with morning sun, and a bit in the afternoon that comes over and around one side of house, yet sheltered by a large evergreen on one side and covered porch on the other. I have notice leaves falling from many other trees that are on this wooded property. I want to get another feathery red Maple for the other side either by the house, or out in the corner of the front yard, but worried it will have some problem. Anyway, thank you for your article. It helped relieve my anxiety. This tree was the first tree we planted in our new to us 33 year old home last year.
Add a comment:
Related Blog Posts

Request a consultation

  • How would you like to be contacted?
*Please fill out all required fields.