3 Reasons For Japanese Maple Leaves Drooping : Troubleshooting Guide 

A drooping Japanese maple is indeed a very sad sight to see. This charming beauty is usually very hardy once it is mature and established. But before that, they have some adjustment issues and because of this, their leaves can turn droopy a lot.

As a gardener, if you know what causes this wilting of leaves, you will be easily able to make decisions on how to treat your Japanese maples. 

Though when the leaves become too old they droop down naturally and new leaves grow in their place. However, if the leaves of your young maple tree are drooping down, then this is not normal at all. 

  • Drought stress
  • Frost damage &
  • Verticillium wilt 

These 3 are the main reasons that cause the untimely drooping of your Japanese Maples. In this article, we have put everything you need to know to save your drooping tree. 

So, let’s get started–

Why Are My Japanese Maple Leaves Drooping?

1. Drought stress

During the summer when the weather is very hot and dry, it can cause water stress in your Japanese maples. For lack of enough water, the leaves will start to wilt and sometimes drop off from the trees prematurely. 

Moreover, along with wilting the leaves will turn brown around the edges too. this issue occurs more frequently with the potted Japanese maples at their young stage rather than the old ones. 

Besides, the type of soil can also influence the severity of drought stress. You see, sandy soil doesn’t hold much water so growing them in sandy soil will dehydrate them very quickly and cause this problem. 

Control Measure

The first thing you need to do is keep the soil in check, especially during the first couple of years. Whenever the soil seems dry from a few inches from the surface, water it immediately. 

The amount of water will depend on the size of the tree. As a thumb rule, one or two gallons of water is considered adequate for younger ones. But if the tree is over 7 feet tall then you have to use 3-4 gallons at least. 

Be alert during the summer seasons because your Japanese maples can easily fall victim to drought stress.  While watering makes sure you evenly distribute it in the soil by using a drip hose. 

However, in order to save it from drought one can end up going overboard with watering and this overwatering will cause other damage to the tree. So, make sure you water only when a few inches of soil surface have dried out. 

In addition, to keep the soil around your tree moist, you can add a layer of mulch which can be around 2-3 inches thick. 

2. Frost damage

Japanese maples are very susceptible to frost. Not only the frost but also a sudden temperature drop can also induce frost damage in them. 

The leaves start to wilt as the severity of the frost increases. The younger the leaves the more damage is done. 

In this condition, leaves also become watery and even turn black sometimes under cloudy conditions. But if the weather is sunny after the frost damage, the leaves will turn brown. 

Control Measure

Before the frost occurs you have to cover up your Japanese maple with a material that can protect it from frost but make sure that enough air passes through the material otherwise the tree can even die for lack of proper respiration.

However, if you are growing the Japanese maples in a pot then the best thing to do is to bring it inside your home before it starts to snow and put it outdoors during spring. 

3. Verticillium Wilt

Drooping of your Japanese maple can also be caused by a fungal disease called Verticillium Wilt. The fungus usually gets inside the tree through damaged roots or wounds. 

After that, the pathogen starts to infect the internal tissues. As a result, the roots fail to supply the tree with enough water and nutrients. Eventually, for lack of these, the leaves start to wilt and even the trunk starts to turn black. 

Fungal wilt mostly occurs when the soil is heavily clayey and drains water very slowly. Besides, overwatering is also a prime cause of verticillium wilt. 

Control Measure

Once the disease gets hold of your plant you have to be quick to apply fungicide before it starts doing more damage to the tree. If the treatment is delayed, it might be too late to save your Japanese maple. 

Treat the soil with the best fungicide to kill the pathogens present in the soil. Make sure you follow the fungicide’s instruction label carefully and apply according to that. (our pick)

For your both garden and pot soil amend it with enough compost or horticultural sand to provide a better drainage facility. (our pick)

Besides, try to water when the top few inches of the soil surface is dry because overwatering will bring this disease back. And whenever you do some pruning, make sure you sterilize the pruning tools with rubbing alcohol beforehand. 

You can also try this amazing  DIY homemade fungicide for your Japanese maples. The recipe is given below–

Recipe: Garlic Fungicide Spray


  • A small bulb of garlic
  • 30 ml of canola oil
  • 3-4 hot peppers (grinded to powder)
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice


  • Mix all the ingredients and let it steep overnight 
  • The next day, use a sieve to strain the solution 
  • Pour this into a bottle and store
  • When you need to apply use 60 ml of this solution and mix it with a gallon of water
  • Pour it into the soil near your Japanese maples
  • Repeat once or twice a week

Japanese Maple Tree Leaves Drooping Remedy

Sure, here are some remedy points for Japanese Maple leaves drooping:

  1. Check the soil moisture: If the soil is too dry, water the tree deeply and regularly. If the soil is too wet, improve drainage by amending the soil with organic matter or planting the tree in a well-draining location.
  2. Provide adequate shade: Japanese Maples prefer partial shade and can become stressed in the full sun. Plant the tree in a location that provides some shade during the hottest parts of the day.
  3. Inspect for pests and diseases: Look for signs of pests or diseases such as spider mites, aphids, or powdery mildew. Treat any issues promptly with appropriate methods, such as insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
  4. Prune damaged or dead branches: Remove any branches that are damaged or dead, as they can contribute to stress on the tree and affect its overall health.
  5. Avoid over-fertilizing: Too much fertilizer can cause the tree to grow too quickly, leading to drooping leaves. Use a slow-release fertilizer in the spring, following the instructions carefully.

By following these remedy points, you can help your Japanese Maple recover from drooping leaves and promote its overall health and vitality. Remember to regularly inspect the tree for signs of distress and address any issues promptly to ensure its long-term health.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does a dying Japanese maple look like?

Dying Japanese maples have brown and droopy leaves that fall off the tree. Sometimes the Japanese maples look dying during the winter season but don’t worry about this because when spring arrives new growth will come. 

Should I water the leaves on a Japanese maple?

It is generally not necessary to water the leaves of a Japanese maple tree. Watering the leaves directly can actually increase the risk of fungal diseases and other issues. When watering, it is best to water the soil around the tree, allowing the water to soak in deeply to reach the roots. If the leaves of your Japanese maple look dry or dusty, you can gently mist them with water, but avoid getting water on the leaves during the hottest part of the day, as this can lead to leaf scorch.

What does an Underwatered Japanese Maple look like?

An underwatered Japanese maple can show several signs of distress. Here are some common symptoms to look out for Wilting leaves, Yellow or brown leaves, Leaf drop, Slow growth

Can a Japanese maple recover from overwatering?

Due to overwatering, the fungal disease attacks the tree. If they are treated rightly with a fungicide and overwatering is avoided in the future, gradually the Japanese maples will recover. 

Can a Japanese maple take full sun?

Mature Japanese maples can tolerate full sun but the young ones mostly can’t. Though enough sunlight is required for them to have colorful foliage. It’s best if they are provided morning sun and partial shade during the afternoon. 


Japanese maples are pretty low maintenance but that doesn’t mean we can just forget about them. When they are in stress they try to tell us by showing some symptoms like drooping and browning of leaves.

When this happens, you need to assess the situation and provide them with the optimum sunlight and water. And if they are infected by fungal disease, use a good fungicide as soon as you can. 

I hope this article was able to help you out in this mission to save your Japanese maple leaves drooping. If you have any questions related to this drop it in the comment section. 

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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