Japanese maples ‘very prone’ to leaf scorch – move now

Alan Titchmarsh explains how to prune an Acer tree

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Acers are known for their attractive leaves and gorgeous colours which can turn various colours before their leaves fall. Mostly slow growing plants, they make perfect container plants in any type of garden. Although easy to grow, they can be affected by some weather conditions, meaning gardeners should move their Japanese maples before the freezing weather sets in.

Tristan Sissons, expert at Homebase, told Express.co.uk: “Acers are beautifully formed trees with spectacular autumnal colourings.

“Whether you have a huge garden space, a small patio or just enough space for a container, acers make an ace addition to any garden.

“The range of colours they come in means you can find one that suits your space perfectly.

“Acers love cool climates. Plant them in cooler areas that have shady spots, sheltered from cold winds and full sunlight, although make sure in winter they don’t get caught in a frost pocket.”

For gardeners growing acer in containers, it is important to “move them” to a sheltered area of the garden now.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said: “Japanese maples are very prone to leaf scorch in windy or excessively sunny positions, particularly those with fine-cut leaves

“Young leaves can also be caught by frost so protect with horticultural fleece when cold nights are forecast.”

Leaf scorch may also occur due to waterlogging, and so during heavy periods of rain, it is also essential acers are protected.

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Leaf scorch rarely causes long-term damage, but it can leave an affected tree “unsightly”.

You can spot the problem by looking for brown trees and the curling of leaves. In some cases, whole leaves can become entirely crispy and there may be some minor die-back of branches.

Gardeners can bring their plant indoors, although it must be kept in a room which is unheated.

Tristan continued: “Acidic soil is ace for an acer. Acers should have slightly acidic, sandy, and well-drained soil that does not dry out in warmer weather or become waterlogged.”

The RHS recommended using John Innes No.2 potting compost or a peat-free ericaceous with 25 percent added sharp sand if potting an acer in a container.

It is essential the soil is kept moist, but not soaking wet, only feeding in spring and early summer.

The RHS added: “You can improve them by digging in well-rotted organic matter such as garden compost or bags of garden centre soil improver.”

Tristan said if pots have great drainage and aerating, an acer will “flourish” in a container.

He continued: “It is known as the anti-pruning plant. Pruning should only be done to improve an acer’s overall shape and to encourage healthy growth, they do not like to be pruned.

“Pruning is best carried out when the sap is falling in late summer or autumn.”

As always with pruning, gardeners should take out any “dead, damaged or diseased” wood or any branches that cross over or are growing in the wrong direction.

Gardeners can also enhance the appearance of maples with brightly-coloured new shoots by pruning to a short trunk before mid-winter.

This will create a shrubby growth, ideal for smaller gardens as well as large.

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