Why Is My Japanese Maple Dying?


The Japanese maple tree, Acer palmatum, typically grows to an outdoor height of approximately 20 feet. A variety of diseases, insects and environmental concerns may damage the renowned leaves or any aspect of the tree.

Verticillium Wilt

  • The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences warns that verticillium wilt has the ability to kill a Japanese maple tree. This lethal condition, caused by the soil-borne fungus Verticillium labarum, has no known cure aside from complete removal of the tree from the affected soil area. Symptoms include a wilting -- or drooping -- of leaves and branches.


  • The Japanese maple grows best in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8. Varieties of the tree planted in much warmer or colder zones could suffer debilitating injury from extreme temperatures. Leaf scorch, a condition that causes leaves to prematurely brown and fall from the tree, is common in hardiness zones 7B and 8.

Diseases and Insects

  • The Japanese maple also may suffer attacks from additional diseases like powdery mildew, tar spots, sooty mold, canker, leaf spots and non-parasitic disorders including air pollution and salt spray. Insects that regularly infest a Japanese maple include aphids, borers, cottony maple scales and Japanese beetles. Injury to the roots is also a common problem among Japanese maples.

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