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Japanese Maple Leaves Turning Brown: Causes & Fixes

In North America, Japanese maples are among the most often planted ornamental trees. They are lovely plants that have attractive flowers, foliage, and fall hues.

But occasionally a Japanese maple’s leaves start to turn brown, which is frequently taken as a reason for alarm. This article will go over the reasons why this could occur and what you can do to prevent it.

Japanese Maple – What Does It Represent?

Japanese maple is a tiny, widely spreading deciduous tree or big shrub. The plant can be cultivated as a huge, numerous stemmed shrub or a small, single-stemmed tree. The branching structure is layered and rounded to broadly rounded, like flowering dogwood.

Trees normally reach a height of 15 to 25 feet with a spread that is at least as great as the height. Due to the abundance of cultivars available in the market, this species exhibits significant variety.

Over three centuries have passed since Japanese maple trees were first cultivated and then carefully bred. 300 different varieties are available. To create a wide variety of cultivars, traits including leaf shape, color, and growth form have all been carefully chosen.

The cultural needs of the cultivars differ substantially. Moonfire, Dissectum, Bloodgood, and Osakazuki are among of the most well-known cultivars.

Japanese Maple Leaves Turning Brown – What Be The Cause?


The most frequent cause of Japanese maples turning brown is overwatering. It’s essential to watch that the soil doesn’t become too moist for too long, just like with any plant. You may have overwatered your maple plant if you see water accumulating in the saucer underneath the pot.

The simplest approach to determine whether your tree is overwatered is to bring a sample of soil to your neighborhood nursery or home improvement store. With the use of their equipment, they can determine the water content for you and advise you on the best watering schedule for your Japanese maple.

To gauge how moist the soil is, you can also use a moisture meter. However, this technique can’t tell you whether your Japanese maple has been overwatered, or long time ago.

In addition to root rot and fungal diseases, overwatering can cause the tree to die, thus understanding whether your Japanese maple is overwatered is crucial.

Leaf Burn

Another frequent cause of Japanese maples becoming brown is leaf burn. Numerous factors, including prolonged exposure to direct sunshine, an excess of salt in the soil, and temperatures that are too hot or too cold for the particular species of maple in your tree, can result in leaf burn.

Japanese maples are more susceptible to leaf burn than other maple species because of their lighter-colored leaves. These leaves may get drier and browner when exposed to the light.

In other words, if your Japanese maple is exposed to direct sunshine for the majority of the day, this could hasten the browning of your tree. If you want to prevent your maple from spending too much time in the sun during the day, you can move it to a new area or cover it with some shade cloth.

Additionally, if you fertilized your Japanese maple and there was too much salt in the fertilizer, leaf burn is more likely to happen. Make sure you’re using a fertilizer designed for Japanese maples, and pay close attention to the dosage recommendations.


Aphids and spider mites are just two of the pests that Japanese maples are prone to. Aphids are easily distinguished by their gleaming green bodies and the webbing they create on foliage.

Spider mites like little brown or reddish spiders crawling all over your maple leaves. Both of these pests are likely eating away at your Japanese maple’s leaves and turning them brown if you spot either of them there.

Japanese Maple Leaves Turning Brown – What Can You Do To Fix It?

Don’t panic, first of all. The sight of your cherished specimen standing there naked after losing its leaves during a hot, dry summer may fill you with panic, but do not interpret this as a sign that it has passed away. It is merely a protection mechanism.

A second set of leaves will actually grow from secondary buds on your plant. In your state of stress, the last thing you want to do is rush for your fertilizer spray tank as if it were a magic wand that could fix anything.

Adopt the following control strategies to try to prevent brown leaves on your Japanese maple trees:


Place them where they can get some shade, especially in the afternoon when it gets the hottest.


During dry spells, be sure to water them enough. It is preferable to water deeply less frequently than shallowly more frequently. The soil should be evenly damp, not drenched. Get into the habit of monitoring your soil between waterings to make sure it is not drying up rather than attempting to find a watering plan that is perfect.


When using chemical fertilizers, be sure to read the instructions thoroughly. In general, late winter or early spring are the ideal times to fertilize Japanese maple trees. Use compost instead, which may be applied at any time and won’t ever hurt a plant, if you don’t want to bother about being accurate with your fertilizing schedule.

Closing Words

Even though it is a good idea to adhere to all of these prevention suggestions, keep in mind that doing so in no way ensures that your plant’s leaves won’t turn brown. If you see that your Japanese maple tree still has brown leaves in the summer despite your best efforts, think about trying with cultivars that are reputed to have beneficial traits.

Further Reading

If you happen to have a dieffenbachia plant in your home and it’s leaves are changing color, then you should find out why dieffenbachia leaves might change color.

You can also give it a read to the article about African violets, and why the leaves of an African violet might turn yellow.

If that’s not enough for you, then I invite you to read more about elephant earl plant leaves turning yellow and how can you prevent it from happening.

Ella Holmes

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