What happens if Japanese maple gets too much sun?

Answered by John Hunt

If a Japanese Maple tree is exposed to too much sun, it can result in sunburned leaves and potentially lead to leaf drop. This is especially common during hot summer afternoons when the sun’s rays are intense. I have personally experienced this issue with my own Japanese Maple trees.

The intense summer sun can cause the delicate leaves of the Japanese Maple to become scorched and discolored. The leaves may turn brown, yellow, or even black in severe cases. Sunburned leaves often appear dried out and crispy, and they may eventually shrivel up and fall off the tree.

The sunburned leaves are essentially damaged by the excessive heat and intense sunlight. The intense UV rays can penetrate the leaves and cause them to lose moisture rapidly. The leaves are not able to cope with this excessive water loss, and hence they become scorched and eventually die off.

In addition to sunburned leaves, excessive sun exposure can also lead to other issues for Japanese Maple trees. The overall health and vigor of the tree may be affected, and it may become more susceptible to pests and diseases. The tree may also experience stunted growth and may not develop to its full potential.

To prevent sunburn and leaf damage, it is important to provide some protection for Japanese Maple trees during periods of intense sun exposure. Here are some steps that can be taken:

1. Provide shade: If possible, provide some shade for the tree during the hottest part of the day. This can be done by placing shade cloth or an umbrella over the tree or by planting taller shade-providing plants nearby.

2. Mulch: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree to help retain moisture in the soil and keep the roots cool. This can also help prevent moisture loss from the leaves.

3. Watering: Ensure that the tree is adequately watered, especially during hot and dry periods. Deep watering can help keep the roots hydrated and reduce the stress on the tree.

4. Pruning: Proper pruning can help improve air circulation and reduce the density of the tree canopy, allowing more sunlight to reach the inner branches and leaves. However, be cautious not to prune excessively, as this can also lead to sunburn.

5. Consider location: When planting Japanese Maple trees, choose a location that provides some protection from the intense afternoon sun. A spot with dappled shade or filtered sunlight is ideal.

It is important to note that some varieties of Japanese Maple are more tolerant of sun exposure than others. Varieties with red or purple foliage tend to be more susceptible to sunburn and may require more shade and protection. Green-leafed varieties are generally more tolerant of direct sun.

Excessive sun exposure can result in sunburned leaves and potential leaf drop in Japanese Maple trees. Taking steps to provide shade, mulch, proper watering, and careful pruning can help prevent sunburn and maintain the health and beauty of these beautiful trees.