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October 2012

QuestionI live here in Little Rock & have just recently planted 2 crepe myrtles on Sept 22. I watered them the first day after we planted them & put some blood mill in the soil, but neglected to water them after that. It rained Sunday & so the soil is still moist. The problem is that the leaves have mostly fallen off & the ones left are pretty dried up looking. What can I do to salvage them?.

AnswerI think it is very unusual for the leaves to have dropped this quickly after planting. Since Sept. 22 we have had a bit more rain, and milder temperatures than we did for the bulk of the season. Transplant shock can occur, but I think you have a pretty dramatic display. Newly planted trees and shrubs are much more dependent on water than those that are well established, but I would still contact the business where you purchased them and ask for advice. Your only other recourse is to wait and see what happens next spring. Be aware that crape myrtles are one of the last plants to begin growing, so don’t despair too quickly.

July 2012

QuestionI was recently on vacation and thought my sprinkler system was set, but when I came home my Japanese maple looked pretty crispy. Do you think it is dead, or if I water it light crazy now, it might come back?.

AnswerThe drought, coupled with high temperatures has really taken its toll on many plants, but trees in particular. If the leaves on your tree are falling off, that is a better sign than if they are brown and shriveled, but still attached to the tree. Water and keep your fingers crossed. I am appalled at how many trees are dying along the roadsides and in yards that are not watered. Two years in a row is tough on plants.

May 2012

QuestionWe have four large (20 feet tall) Japanese maple trees in our front bed. They are 15-20 years old and have seemed very healthy. Last week, my across the street neighbor cut down one of his Japanese maple trees in his front yard because it had died. Seemed like it died fairly quickly, just a year or two and it was gone. He has another one also in his front yard that is has some dead major branches. Then, I took a closer look at my trees and discovered that they all have many dead branches, although they are small branches, no major ones. I am concerned that there may be some kind of disease. What should I do?

AnswerJapanese maples were hit hard by last summer’s extreme heat and drought. If they weren't watered, they may have died or had some major damage. My neighbor had a large old Japanese maple that is totally dead this year. Plants that were
stressed would be more susceptible to insect and disease attacks. Check out the trees, looking for any holes or splits in the stems or leaf spots on the foliage. Remove any dead branches. A little thinning never hurt a Japanese maple. Water when dry and hope for the best. If you do see signs of insects or diseases, take a sample in to your local extension office.