Many gardeners enjoy the changing colors of trees throughout the year.
Fall colors can be spectacular with oranges, yellows, reds and even purples to brighten up our gardens. Many people even travel long distances to see the colors change.
Some gardeners actually design their gardens with color changes in mind, and that’s a great idea until one or more of your trees aren’t changing the way you think they should. What the hell happens when our trusty Japanese maple turns green?
Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) are known for their vibrant colors. In fact, these trees have been cultivated for their beauty since the early 17th century.
Japanese maples are deciduous trees used primarily for their ornamental foliage use.
Since you plan to use the beautiful foliage all year round, it can be confusing and worrisome when your Japanese maple leaves turn green.
The reason your Japanese maple turns green is due to rhizomes, fertilizer issues, inadequate lighting, nutrient and soil issues, seasonal changes, and aging trees.
Some of them can be fixed with proper care, while others are largely out of reach.
Why is your Japanese maple turning green?
Let’s first look at how maple trees are produced. Most of the trees we find in our local garden centers are mass produced, usually using the cheapest method.
Japanese maples are no different. Often there are two parts of the tree which together form a plant. This is known as graft.
Growers and propagators choose the roots and bottom of a tree based on how quickly and easily it can be propagated.
Two popular rhizomes are those that are drought and disease resistant. These, called rootstocks, will be used to graft onto a decorative part of the tree.
On Japanese maples, the pattern often has green leaves. Colored maple sections are grafted onto the pattern.
As our Japanese maple continues to grow, the rootstock will develop visible buds below the graft line. They can even send suction cups.
Unless these shoots and suckers are removed frequently, you will end up with a green leafed Japanese maple. Basically, the greeting pattern will overpower and overpower the color graft.
How to solve this problem ?
Almost all named varieties of Japanese maple are grown from grafts and new growth below the graft line.
You need to be constantly on the lookout for suckers appearing and shoots growing from the rootstock part of the tree. They must be cut or removed to keep the color variety healthy.
A point to note here about shredded trees is that if they have been damaged by winter stress or by rodents and insects, the new growth may be from the rootstock rather than the named variety of the tree.
There are several other reasons why your Japanese maple turns green.
1) Incorrect lighting
If your Japanese maple isn’t getting enough natural light, it may start to turn green instead of staying red or yellow.
Although the Japanese maple prefers full sun, it can do well in partial shade, but if too much shade falls on the tree it will turn green.
Japanese maple needs at least 6 hours of full sun each day. For this reason, you will often see them planted in the middle of a lawn where there is no chance of shade from an overhanging building or other trees.
How to fix this
If you feel like your maple tree is suffering from a lack of lighting, plan to move it as soon as possible. Established trees take longer to establish and are more difficult to move than younger ones.
You may also be interested in: 6 Benefits of Having a Japanese Maple
2) Nutrient and soil issues
Your Japanese maple will do best in well-drained soil because, like many plants, it doesn’t like its roots to be too wet.
Maple also needs soil, which is more acidic and has more organic matter, so if you have a compost pile, you’ll be happy to use that on your maple tree.
When maple trees are grown in poor soil, you will find that the growth rate is slower and the tree becomes stressed. This can cause the leaf to turn green instead of staying red.
Poor soil and over-fertilization can cause Japanese maple to turn green. You should test the soil around you to make sure there are no nutrient deficiencies for the tree.
The most common deficiency in Japanese maple is lack of magnesium. This will appear as yellow/green leaves with darker veins.
A note here: you don’t need to fertilize a newly planted maple tree because the roots cannot absorb nutrients. Once established, the tree can be fertilized in the spring before new growth begins.
You should aim for a slow-release fertilizer, as it will continue to work throughout the growing season, providing the tree with a constant source of nutrients. In the ingredients you should find “water insoluble nitrogen”.
How to fix this
Soil testing is relatively inexpensive and can give you peace of mind that there are no other problems. Once you know what’s missing, you can establish a feeding routine to restore colorful leaves throughout the year.
3) light intensity
In warm climates, you should plant your Japanese maple where it receives sunlight in the morning and dappled shade in the afternoon, as that is when the sun shines the most.
Your Japanese maple may be getting too much sun, although this is now causing the foliage to turn green. will develop before brown leaves, as if burned.
In extremely hot climates, it’s best to plant your maple tree in partial shade, especially where the midday sun isn’t as bright.
How to fix this
As long as the tree receives its 6 hours of direct sunlight, it will do well in an area of dappled shade in the afternoon.
There are certain varieties of maple trees that turn from red to green when the sunlight is too strong, so check with your local garden center before choosing your tree.
You may also be interested in: Japanese Maple vs. red maple
4) Normal seasonal changes
Japanese maple typically colors in the spring and fall, so if you see green leaves in the summer, be aware that some varieties turn green in the summer and change color later in the year.
There are varieties that change color only in autumn, so the leaves turn green at other times. If your maple is one of them, it won’t have bright colors all year round.
How to fix this
If you plan to have the colors of your maple in your garden decor, be sure to purchase the variety that does. A reputable garden center can tell you which ones will.
5) The age of the tree
Sometimes the maple loses its colored leaves as it grows vigorously and this is a normal process. You will notice that the tree naturally slows its growth rate, and when this happens it turns red and orange again.
Older maples seem to have more regular red leaves than younger trees which often provide green foliage.
There is not much you can do with a sapling with green leaves, except wait for the colors that will appear in the years to come.
How to fix this
There is nothing you can do as the tree ages, it is the normal part of the growth process.
However, if you must have a red leaf maple, you can order one from a reputable garden center. They may have to order it for you, but you can.
6) Green Family Trees
Colored cultivars are often seen grafted onto a rootstock and if any of the shoots are mistaken for the colored variety, the leaves will be green. Be sure to check where the new growth is coming from.
You can usually see a small bump where the graft took place and any shoots emerging from below will reflect the original rootstock and not the colored top.
How to fix this
Be sure to prune any shoots growing under the rootstock and the hump area where the graft was made.
A note about your planting zone:
Although the Japanese maple certainly looks best in the center of the lawn, it can be grown closer to home. There are a few things to keep in mind when doing this.
- Check spacing – try not to plant closer than 10 feet as the tree will grow taller and taller.
- Check the overhangs – The last thing you want to do is cut the maple because it will be too tall for an overhang. Ask the growing height at the garden center.
- Watch out for wires – Again, it would be a shame to cut down a maple tree because of the electrical wires covering it.
- Watch out for downspouts: During heavy rainy seasons, make sure the soil around the maple tree drains well and doesn’t collect all the water from nearby downspouts.
For more information on how to plant a Japanese maple, read our article here.
How does a Japanese maple stay red?
Perhaps the most common reason your Japanese maple turns green is light receives In order for your tree to stay red, it must have sunlight.
Too much shade and the red foliage the trees are known for just doesn’t show. On the contrary, the leaf develops green. They may be slightly reddish, but nothing like what you’d expect from a maple tree in full sun.
To maintain your red maple, there are a few points to pay attention to, namely:
- Water and Fertilizer: Never over-fertilize or water the tree in the fall.
- Suitable conditions: at least 6 hours of direct sunlight
- Proper Soil Conditions – A Japanese maple prefers soil with a pH that is not suitable for it. Both too acidic and too alkaline, the leaves are green. Maples prefer neutral soils.
The Japanese maple is a tree that should have a place of honor in your garden. And this is exactly where it is happiest, because it is in the center of the garden that the tree receives the most sun.
Japanese maples need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight to produce the spectacular foliage we love. They will never grow well in shady areas, so it’s best not to plant near that spot.
The more direct sunlight your Japanese maple is exposed to, the more color pigment the tree will produce and with a little maintenance, and it is a low maintenance tree, you will be rewarded year after year with the best displays. more spectacular foliage ranging from red to burgundy. . and bright yellow.