Japanese Maples and Conifers

Maple Ridge Musings

The Long, Hot Summer is Finally Over!


Welcome back to Maple Ridge Musings. We’re really excited to get this blog started and we are also excited that fall seems to finally be showing up here in Georgia. It has been a brutal summer that has seemingly lasted from mid-May all the way until the first week of October. Not only has it been crazy hot, but we also have had very little rain. This combination has been terribly tough on plants in the area. Our trees have been troopers though, handling it better than I ever could have expected, but I know there are a lot of people out there that haven’t had as much luck. I wanted to take this opportunity to give you all a little background on what we have been dealing with, some things to watch, and steps you can take to insure your trees are healthy and happy headed into the fall and winter.

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This has been one of the most consistently hot years on record for the city of Atlanta, tying the record of most days at or above 90 degrees. We have also experienced an exorbitant number of days with highs above 95 degrees. As Murphy’s law would have it, this incredible heat wave has come with an ill-timed drought. We have gotten less than five inches of rain since the beginning of July. This is obviously a terrible combination for all kinds of plants, but Japanese Maples are fortunately tough as nails. They are extremely drought tolerant plants and while this rough weather may be zapping some of their beauty, they will be quite alright in most cases.

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Many of your Japanese Maples are likely experiencing some interesting colors, burning to the leaves or even complete defoliation. None of these are inherently detrimental to the tree. Of course, we would rather the leaves look pretty throughout the summer and defoliation is never what we want, but the tree is probably still alright. This has been a stressful time for the trees and this is one of the ways they deal with stress. The important thing to remember is that as long as the tree has healthy looking buds, it should bounce back just fine. These buds may produce new leaves giving your tree a new spring look, or they may wait until next year to push back out. As your tree matures it has less chance of defoliating during extreme weather such as we’ve had this summer.

So, what should you do when we have extreme heat coupled with lengthy drought? The most important thing is to water consistently. If you are planting a new tree, it should be watered every other day for the first month in the ground during the summer. After the first month, water your new tree about twice a week for another month. After these first two months, your tree only needs water about once per week. Established trees only need water about once every two weeks, so as long as you make sure to water your older trees every other week during prolonged droughts they should be fine. Even if you water less than my suggestion, make sure it is a somewhat consistent watering schedule. Too much water in a short period followed by prolonged drought is much more detrimental. Another thing to remember is that too much water can be more harmful than too little water, so if your tree is starting to look a little crispy or if the leaves even drop, don’t panic.

It’s been a rough summer and many trees are looking a little worse for wear, but they will be alright. Summer is finally over, and cooler temperatures have arrived. If we can get some rain, then things will really start looking up. Another thing to remember is that colors could be affected by this hot summer. I’m not sure yet how it will be affected, but I’m not expecting a typical fall this year. Fall colors are always a little hit or miss, so we will see. Of course, each individual tree is its own case so if you have any questions about how your trees held up through the summer please let us know! You can comment below, send us an email, or give us a call. We would love to talk with you!