How Do You Revive a Dying Japanese Maple Tree?

After all the work you put into making your garden look beautiful and having all your plants in perfect visual harmony, finding out one of them is dying can be devastating.

Especially if it’s a tree as beautiful as Japanese Maple.

With their bright red foliage, Japanese Maple trees can accentuate every garden or landscape, adding a unique aesthetic appeal and vibrancy.

However, to keep them looking this stunning, you have to tend to Japanese Maple with care and maintain it well.

If you fail to do this, you may notice that your plant is slowly dying out, with its branches drying out and leaves wilting.

Still, the good news is that there are ways to rescue these gorgeous trees.

Below, I’ll answer the question of how do you revive a dying Japanese Maple tree and what you can do to prevent it from happening in the first place.

So, let’s dive in!

How to Identify a Dying Japanese Maple Tree?

Besides caring for the plant regularly, it’s also important to monitor the signs that may indicate that the tree is declining or even dying.

The initial signs of stress are commonly the easiest to notice when you observe Japanese Maple leaves and foliage.

Once the plant is on the decline, the leaves will lose their natural color and start turning yellow and brown.

As the issues progress, the leaves will curl up, and eventually fall off.

Also, poor nutrition or pest infestation may hinder the development of branches and cause them to wrinkle and sag, becoming blotched and scarred.

If the entire branch is infected, all the leaves on it will eventually die and shed.

How Do You Revive a Dying Japanese Maple Tree?

Dying Japanese Maple Tree.

Japanese Maple trees are relatively prone to various infections and don’t react well to poor growing conditions.

They’re sensitive to too much or too little water and sun, excessive use of fertilizers, and susceptible to bacterial and fungal diseases.

Of course, you should do your best to prevent these issues from even occurring, but if they do, it’s always best to take immediate action, as that will provide a chance to revive a dying tree.

In many cases, you can establish if there’s still hope for your Japanese Maple by cutting a bark splinter from one of the branches or tree trunk.

If it appears green, the tree is still alive and salvageable.

Some of the most common causes for Japanese Maple dying out and the tips on how to revive the tree in those cases are listed below.


Inadequate watering could be one of the reasons why your Japanese Maple is dying, especially if you live in an area with a dry and hot climate, or during the scorching summer heat.

In these conditions, the soil dries more quickly, leaving the tree without enough water.

When this happens, the leaves will begin to will, turn brown around the edges, and fail to optimally perform their role in photosynthesis.

If the dehydration goes on for a longer period, the leaves and the entire tree may die eventually.

How to Revive the Tree

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When the Japanese Maple tree is underwatered, it may protect itself from dying by going into dormancy. This often happens during the summer.

To check if the tree is still alive, take one of the buds and crush it. If it’s green on the inside, it means that the Japanese Maple is still alive and it’s possible to save it.

The first thing to do when trying to revive an underwater Japanese Maple is to water the soil around the tree.

Make sure that the soil drains the water well to avoid clogging which can also cause health issues for the tree.

You can also add a layer of mulch, which will work to help the soil retain its moisture and provide nutrients.

Another thing that will help revive your Japanese Maple is to create shade around the tree to keep it from overheating and reduce moisture evaporation.

Root Rot

Root rot is another common cause of dying Japanese Maple. The reason why the root may start rotting is usually a constantly damp or moist soil around the tree.

This kind of environment may cause a lack of oxygen leading to the root becoming soft and spongy.

After a while, you may expect the rot to develop which may quickly destroy the root and cause the entire tree to die out.

How to Revive the Tree

The prevention of root rot should start with choosing the proper location to plant the tree.

You should avoid particularly damp places, where there’s a lot of water, such as spots near ponds or streams.

Also, as the tree grows, be careful not to overwater it.

You should add water only when the top two inches of soil are dry and not before. Fully developed trees need almost no watering.

If you still notice that the root of your Japanese Maple is rotting, you should take measures to improve drainage around the tree.

Look to get the excess water away from the root zone.

Additionally, you can add various natural elements around the tree, such as sand, grave, or leaves, to help absorb the extra moisture.

You can do this by digging into the damp ground around the tree base and mixing the soil with sand or gravel.


As I already noted, Japanese Maple is fairly prone to various diseases.

The most common disease causing the Japanese Maple to die is the fungal infection called Verticillium Wilt.

The fungi causing these diseases commonly develop in the damp and moist ground around the tree base.

Once the tree is infected by Verticillium Wilt, its roots will start to decay as the cambial layer of the tree slowly dies off and shrinks.

The tree can also be infected by Verticillium Wilt through non-sterile pruning tools or certain insects that can carry this disease.

The early signs of Verticillium Wilt disease are browning and wilting leaves and dark spots on the bark.

At later stages, the branches will turn brown and shrivel and a better part of the tree may die off.

How to Revive the Tree

To avoid Verticillium Wilt and similar fungal diseases from appearing in the first place, make sure to always use sterile prunning tools.

Also, after the prunning, treat the wounds with a multipurpose fungicide to prevent the branches from getting infected.

Furthermore, as damp soil is a favorable environment for the development of fungi, be careful not to overwater your Japanese Maple.

If the Japanese Maple tree is already infected and dying, prune all the diseased branches below the level of infection.

Make sure to burn all the rot-off branches to stop the further spread of the infection to healthy parts of the tree.

You can also help the tree revival by applying fertilizers with low nitrogen and high potassium content.

Excessive Fertilizing

While fertilizing can promote and help the growth of a Japanese Maple, overfertilizing can do much more damage than good.

A lot of people try to get their trees to grow faster by adding excessive amounts of fertilizer which can only cause damage to the root system.

This damage is also visible over the ground, as leaves appear scorched with their color turning brown or yellowish.

Plus, the tree itself may grow faster due to more fertilizer, but the branches and leaves will remain underdeveloped.

At best this will ruin the Japanese Maple’s visual appeal and make it look unhealthy, and, at worst, it may cause the tree to die off.

How to Revive the Tree

When you notice the above-described symptoms of overfertilizing, the first course of action should be to replace the topsoil with a fresh layer.

While doing this, be careful not to damage the root system and only replace the soil at the depth where there are no roots.

In addition, increase the watering of the tree to wash off the excess fertilizer salts from the soil.

You should also remove any leaves and prune any branches that are dying to ensure that all the fertilizer residue is eliminated.

After you finished taking these immediate measures, cover the ground around the tree with a layer of organic mulch, such as decayed grass or leaves.

To prevent this from happening again, use only slow-release fertilizer and fertilize Japanese Maple no more than once a year.


Japanese Maple can be a wonderful addition to every garden, but it does require specific growing conditions and care if it is to develop and thrive.

Still, even with a lot of care and effort invested in growing the Japanese Maple, the tree may still suffer from certain issues and start dying.

The answer to the question of how do you revive a dying Japanese Maple tree starts with watching out for early signs of tree decay, so you can be able to react.

In most cases, a timely reaction can save the tree and revive it so it can continue to grow and develop.

The important thing to remember is that you have to give the tree time to recover and not rush it.

Melissa Johnson
Melissa Johnson

Hello, I'm Melissa, owner and author of this website. I hope my article was able to help answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

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