Designing Spaces That Reflect You

Why are my Japanese Maple Leaves Turning Green?

Are you seeing the spectacular colors of yellow, orange, and red of your Japanese maple gradually fading and the Japanese maple leaves turning green? It can be disappointing to see the colorful foliage losing its color, so you must know why it is happening and how to fix it. The factors that can contribute to this are improper sunlight, nutrient deficiency, over-fertilizing, excessive heat, and seasonal changes.

Let’s discuss these causes and then find out ways to fix these problems and make the Japanese maple full of vigor and color again.

Causes of Japanese maple leaves turning green

Improper care is the root cause of Japanese maple leaves turning green. You may have planted it in the wrong place, or you may need to be fertilizing it the correct way. To revive the red-colored leaves of Japanese maple, you must find the culprit.

1. Incorrect sunlight

Japanese maple leaves get the reddest shade when planted in full sun. This is why the best place to plant Japanese maple is in the center of the garden so it gets direct sun for most of the day. Your Japanese maple may turn green if you plant it under a shaded spot. 

Another reason for Japanese maple leaves turning green is getting too much direct sunlight. The intense sunshine in summer can cause burn and the scorching midday sun can make the leaves green if it is not shaded. 

How to revive the tree?

It is good to transplant the Japanese maple to a sunny place if it is grown in a shaded area. But remember that you can only transplant the tree when it is in its juvenile stage. If intense summer sunshine is the reason for leaves turning green, then it is good to shade your plant during the afternoons and let it be exposed to the morning and evening sun.

2. Nutrient deficiency

Nutrient deficiency Japanese maple leaves turning green

Japanese maple commonly suffers from nutrient deficiency and it causes the leaves to turn light green to yellow. The main nutrient it needs is manganese and nutrient deficiency for Japanese maple usually means manganese deficiency and rarely any other mineral deficiency. 

How to revive the tree?

If you suspect a nutrient deficiency, then test the soil for its nutrient contents. When you are sure that nutrient deficiency is the reason for Japanese maple leaves turning green, you should apply fertilizer. If the soil lacks all essential fertilizers, then apply a balanced household fertilizer. But if the soil lacks only manganese, then use a manganese fertilizer. To prevent nutrient burn in the Japanese maple tree, always dilute the fertilizer to half its strength before pouring it into the soil. 

3. Over-fertilizing

If you try to make plants grow faster by applying fertilizer more than they need, it can cause more harm to the plants than good. Japanese maple may show signs of over-fertilizing when you see Japanese maple leaves turning green. You would also notice wilted leaves with brown tips, and the plant dies gradually if the problem is left untreated.

How to revive the tree?

To avoid further damage from over-fertilizing, stop fertilizing your Japanese maple tree the moment you find that over-fertilizing is the cause of green leaves. If you see fertilizer on the soil, then try to remove it. Another good option is to leach the soil and wash away the excessive amounts of fertilizer. Wash away the extra nutrients from the soil by washing it deeply. 

Let the plant rest and don’t fertilize it for another month after leaching the tree. 

4. Extreme heat

This tree cannot tolerate high temperatures and the plant goes dormant if the temperatures rise high in the summer. The leaves turn green or brown when the plant is in its dormancy. 

How to revive the tree?

Add a layer of organic mulch to the soil in summer to keep the Japanese maple tree cool by preventing excessive evaporation. 

Increase the watering frequency when days are hotter and try to water it in the morning since evaporation is higher during the afternoon and roots cannot absorb the moisture properly. Another good tip is to shade your plant on hot summer days. 

5. Seasonal change and variety

Seasonal change and variety

Usually, Japanese maple leaves change their color in summer, but the red color normally returns in the autumn. If you see Japanese maple leaves turning green, then it may be due to the usual season change. Remember that there are only a few varieties among the hundreds of Japanese maple varieties that can retain their color through the summer. 

How to prevent Japanese maple from turning green?

No matter what the reason for Japanese maple leaves turning green is, you must care for your plant to keep it red, fresh, and healthy all through the year. Here are some care tips for Japanese maple that will help you:

Japanese maple leaves turning green
  • Watering: During the growing season, the tree needs thorough watering twice a week. Decrease the watering frequency in winters and water it more in summers. 
  • Soil needs: The tree grows best in loose, well-draining, and organic soil. To increase the organic content and fertility of the plant, add a layer of mulch on the ground.
  • Sunlight needs: Japanese maple grows best in full sun, but in extreme summers, try to protect it from direct sunlight.
  • Fertilizing: Use 1/10 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer for every inch of the diameter of the tree and dilute the fertilizer before applying it.
  • Temperature: This tree cannot tolerate high temperatures but can withstand temperatures as low as 0°F.
  • Pruning: The best time to prune Japanese maple is at the end of the winter or the start of spring. You should remove all the old leaves every year to promote more growth and healthier leaves.

Do you think that your Japanese maple is overwatered? Then learn more about the symptoms and fixes of Japanese maple overwatering: Japanese maple overwatering symptoms: How to fix them?

Which things to consider when planting Japanese maple?

The best place to grow Japanese maple is at the center of the lawn, but you can also grow it near your house. Some things that you must consider when choosing the right place to grow Japanese maple are:

Japanese maple leaves turning green
  • Measure the distance: Japanese maple should not be planted closer than 10’ as the tree grows both upwards as well as outwards.
  • See the overhangs: It is very disappointing to chop down your Japanese maple tree because it is disturbing any overhangs and growing too tall. So, check the height of how high your maple is likely to grow and see any hurdles that may come on its way.
  • Look out for cables: It is again very sad to chop down a maple because of electricity cables coming as a hurdle.
  • Inspect the drainpipes: When it rains heavily, ensure that the soil around the maple drains well and all the water from the drain pipes doesn’t gather around the maple plant.

How to identify an overwatered Japanese maple tree?

Japanese maple can survive wet soil, particularly during their initial years, but overwatering can prove to be a cause behind their decline. You can see the sign of overwatering in the form of brown or black tips of their leaves. 

Is it good to grow Japanese maple in full sun?

When you find the solution to Japanese maple leaves turning green, you should try to provide the maple trees with the right growing conditions. Japanese maple grows best in places with dappled shade. If you plant them in full sun and live in a place with a hot and dry climate, then the leaves are likely to get scorched. These scorched leaves usually drop off from the trees by mid to late summer and develop brown tips and margins. 

How to identify a stressed Japanese maple?

When leaves start burning on their tips, it is a sign of stress in Japanese maple. When the roots become sun-baked, the stress is still visible in the leaves as if they were exposed to excessive wind or sun. The thin-barked maple stems can become sun scalded in their first year of growth or when you repot them. 

When is the right time to fertilize Japanese maple?

You should fertilize the Japanese maple plants during their second growing season or when the plants are at least a year old. Early spring or late winter is the right time to apply fertilizer. Remember that Japanese maple naturally grows quite slowly, so you should avoid using a high-nitrogen fertilizer to stimulate rapid growth. 

Which fertilizer is good for Japanese maple?

A slow or controlled-release fertilizer works well for the Japanese maple. 

Which fertilizer is good for Japanese maple

Closing thoughts but before you go …

The Japanese maple tree stays the happiest when planted at the center of the garden, as it gets the most sunlight and attention at this spot. The spectacular color of its foliage is achieved if it gets more than 6 hours of direct sunlight.  Never plant them in a shady place as they don’t grow well there. The more you expose your Japanese maple to sunlight; the plant produces color pigments. If you maintain it properly and fulfill its care needs, it will reward you with a spectacular display of foliage ranging from bright yellow to burgundy and red. If you see Japanese maple leaves turning green, then follow the tips we mentioned above to revive the color of its foliage.