Why My Japanese Maple Leaf Tips Turning Brown? [Fixing Guide]

Japanese maples have a breathtaking view with their red, green, orange, purple, and even pink-colored leaves. But brown leaves are not what a gardener expects to have since it ruins the beauty of the tree completely.

More importantly, it’s not just about beauty. You see, brown leaves are a sign of stress felt by your plant. So, this means you have to get into action before it becomes too late to save your precious Japanese maples.

If you are wondering what is causing these brown leaves on your tree, I am here to get all of your questions answered.

  1. Excessive sun exposure
  2. Improper watering 
  3. Fertilizer burn
  4. Pest attacks &
  5. Root rot

These are the 5 reasons that are behind your Japanese maple leaves turning brown. In this article, I am going to discuss how you can treat your tree from these issues easily without having to put in much work. 

So, without making any delay let’s get straight to business–

5 Causes Why Japanese Maple Leaf Tips Turning Brown and Its Remedy

There are several reasons why the tips of Japanese maple leaves may be turning brown. Here are some possible causes and solutions:

1. Too Much Sun Exposure

The thing is, your Japanese maple trees prefer a bit of shade from the harsh rays of sunlight and dry winds. When your Japanese maples are getting full sunlight almost the whole day, it’s going to put them under much stress.

Unfortunately, hot temperature and overexposure to sunlight scorches the leaves badly and turns them brown or gray around the tips. The longer the tree is exposed to the sun, the more leaves will start to turn brown and die and eventually drop off.

Sometimes the leaves are shriveled from the tips and curled as well and the veins become darker in shade. In a severe case of sunburn, the leaves will also become crispy and very brittle and they will crumble at the slightest pressure with the finger. 

Control Measure

When they are under hot and scorching weather you need to water them a bit more deeply and frequently to make sure the Japanese maples stay hydrated. You can conserve the soil’s moisture by spreading a layer of mulches around your tree.

Also, provide shade to the tree in a manner that they get a few hours of sunlight during the morning and stay shaded during the afternoon when the sun is hotter. Besides, you can create a sheltered spot for them to save the tree from the hot and harsh summer wind. 

If your Japanese maples are in a sapling stage or very young, then you can try digging and relocating them to a new place with less sunlight exposure. However, this trick is not for the old ones as their roots have already gone very deep into the soil and disturbing them isn’t a good idea.

In this case, you can plant a big sun loving taller tree beside your Japanese maple which will eventually grow and protect it from harsh sunlight in the long run. 

Another thing is that when your Japanese maples are strong and healthy they will better cope with environmental stress situations. So make sure you take good care of them by providing regular watering and fertilization. 

Besides, to make your plant look tidy you can get rid of the brown leaves because they won’t turn back to normal. When the tree has recovered, it will grow a lot of new bright leaves. You can also try and experiment by planting other more sun-tolerant Japanese maple varieties like “crimson queen” and “Blood good” in your area.

2. Watering Issues

After providing your Japanese maples enough shade, if the leaves are still continuously turning brown and dull then you have to take a look at the watering schedule because underwatering can turn your maple leaves brown.

Besides, under-watered tree leaves will curl at the tips and will also show signs of yellowing. Moreover, if the trees aren’t watered properly for a long time it can cause leaves to drop off prematurely. Sadly the more the trees are underwatered, the more chances of leaf scorch occur.

Have a look at this video to get the watering issue of your Japanese maple more clarified– 

Control Measure

Watering the Japanese maples correctly is very crucial to keep them healthy. However, not all trees need the same amount of watering. You see, it greatly varies with the age of the tree, environmental conditions, soil conditions etc. 

You see, when your Japanese maples are young they need a bit more water to establish themselves in the ground. Besides, water is also very important to help the tree have ample root growth.  

During hot spells, you need to water them deeply so that the roots can quickly absorb enough water from a certain depth in the soil. 

Check the soil frequently and make sure you keep it moist but not waterlogged and soggy. Rather than having any calculated watering schedule, in my experience, it always has been best to keep an eye on the soil and water on the basis of its dryness. 

3. Fertilizer Burn

When fertilizers are applied to the tree in the wrong manner; for example if the formulation is too concentrated or the fertilizer is applied during the hotter parts of the day it can cause the leaves to burn. 

Overfeeding with fertilizer isn’t also good for the tree and it burns the leaves. And the burned leaves look yellow and brown, especially around the edges. 

Control Measure

Whenever you apply fertilizer, you have to read the package instructions very carefully and follow them. Besides, you have to decide the right time to fertilize. For this, you have to pick a cool and dry condition when heavy rain isn’t expected within the next few days.

Make sure to avoid fertilizing when the temperature is higher than  85 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, you need to be careful not to use too much fertilizer than your plant needs. 

However, imbalanced fertilizer will also cause the burning of the leaves turning them brown. So, make sure you use the best kind of fertilizer that has a balanced amount of essential nutrients for your Japanese maple growth and development. (our pick)

If the leaves are yellow or brown but the veins are still green, this means they are iron deficient. In this case, spray chelated iron on them.

If your tree is showing deficiency symptoms during the hot summer months you can try using compost because it will not have much harmful effect on your trees. 

4. Pest Problems

Aphids and scale insects bother Japanese maples no matter where you grow them. However, the trees can tolerate these pests up to a certain extent but sometimes a severe pest attack leads to the browning of leaves. 

The leaf turns yellow first and later transforms to brown at their feeding spots. Besides, the leaves fall off earlier than usual accompanied by curling. 

Moreover, the aphids transfer some deadly viral diseases as well, making them a more important thing to get rid of quickly. 

Control Measure

The first thing you need to do is keep monitoring your Japanese maple very carefully for these small pests because they are very small in size which makes them almost invisible to us. However, if you look closely you’ll see them hidden mostly on the underside of the leaves.

Use a good insecticide on your Japanese maple tree by following the label directions thoroughly and making sure both the upper and lower surface of the leaves are sprayed evenly.  (our pick)

Besides, you can spray your Japanese maple with cold water through a strong spray pressure to lodge them off from the leaves and bark. However, remember that this method is just going to provide some temporary relief. 

Interestingly, you can buy some commercially cultivated beneficial insects like ladybird beetles, lacewings etc. to use as a predator against these harmful pests and keep them under control. (our pick)

In addition, make sure you prune off the excessive branches and severely pest-infected branches as well. And while using fertilizer keep in mind that too much fertilizer will accumulate in the leaves and this will naturally invite more aphids and scale insects to attack.

Aside from using chemical insecticides, you can also make your own insecticide only with help of a few things. Here’s the recipe–

# Homemade DIY Dormant Oil Insecticide Recipe:


  • ½  teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap 
  • 3.5 oz of any cooking oil like olive oil or sunflower oil


  • Mix both ingredients together in an electric blender
  • You can also use a whisk to mix them up manually
  • Now store the solution in an air-tight bottle
  • While spraying, add 2 tablespoons of the solution in 500 ml water and mix well
  • Then pour this into a spray bottle and spray on both sides of your Japanese maple leaves once or twice a week

Note: Not all types of homemade solutions adjust with the Japanese maple so before spraying it on your tree make sure you try the solution on a small scale. If there is no irritation on the leaves then you can continue to use it all over the plant. 

5. Root rot

Sadly, Japanese maples are frequently attacked by fungal diseases and root rot is one of them. It usually occurs when the soil is damp for a long time. When the pathogen gets a hold of the tree, it causes browning and yellowing of the leaves. 

Besides, the leaves start to curl inwards and gradually they start to drop off from the branch. The issue here is, the roots due to fungal attacks become unable to supply enough nutrients and water throughout the tree. 

Control Measure

When you suspect root rot without making any delay, get the best fungicide for your tree that can effectively destroy the root rot pathogen and pour it around the tree following the label direction thoroughly. Remember that, the wrong kind of fungicide will not treat the root rot efficiently. (our pick)

Make sure the soil your tree is in has a good capacity to drain the water quickly because waterlogging will induce root rot and hamper the treatment by reducing the effect of fungicides. 

You need to keep an eye on the amount of water you are using on your Japanese maple and prevent yourself from overwatering. To make your soil well-draining, mix proper amounts of sand or perlite with your garden soil.

If you are looking for a home remedy for root rot then obviously there are a few ways. But they might not be as effective as a chemical fungicide. However, they can still provide some protection naturally if you are not inclined to use chemical fungicides. 

Here’s a DIY fungicide recipe–

# Recipe 1:- Vinegar Spray Fungicide Recipe:


  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar 
  • 2 liters of water
  • A few drops of liquid and mild dish soap


  • Mix all the ingredients by stirring and pour an adequate amount on the soil near your Japanese maple tree
  • Repeat twice a week as long as necessary

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is the best way to water my Japanese maple?

Ans: Japanese maples prefer consistently moist soil, but not waterlogged soil. Water deeply and thoroughly once a week, or more often in hot or dry weather. Make sure the soil has good drainage to avoid waterlogging.

Q: Can I prune my Japanese maple to remove brown or damaged leaves?

Ans: Yes, you can prune your Japanese maple to remove brown or damaged leaves. Use clean, sharp pruning shears and make clean cuts just above a leaf node or branch. Avoid cutting into the main trunk or major branches.

Q: Will my Japanese Maple recover from leaf scorch?

Ans: With proper care and time, gradually your Japanese maples will recover from the leaf scorch situation. It’s most likely to recover when the spring season arrives and during this period it will grow new and perfectly normal leaves.

Q: Do Japanese maples do well in pots?

Ans: The Japanese maples are very slow growing so up to a certain age they can be grown in pots without any problem. However, as they grow the size of the pot needs to be changed to a bigger one. 

Q: How often should I water Japanese maple?

Ans: Usually, they need water every 2-3 days during the first few months of their life. When it has established itself properly, watering once a week is enough. However, if the weather is too hot for them, a little bit of frequent watering will be rather good for them. 


The Japanese maples are very delicate and beautiful with vibrant foliage sparkling the garden during the autumn. But brown leaves put on a sad display of this treasured piece that cannot be accepted by anyone.

So, to treat them, get them some protection against sunlight and make sure they are getting enough water and fertilizers to boost their growth. Besides, save them from fungus and pest attacks by applying fungicides and pesticides from time to time. 

I hope this article has helped you to treat the brown leaf tips of your Japanese maples successfully.

Happy Gardening.

James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg

James Rivenburg is the founder of plantandpest.com, a passionate gardener with valuable experience and knowledge gained through trial and error. The website has a large community of followers who trust his tips and techniques and have succeeded with his advice. He is always Committed to helping others create a beautiful and healthy garden.

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