Lions Head Maple Kept Indoors Is Dropping Leaves And Branches In Fall

Question From: M. Heldke - Novi, Michigan, United States
Q: Hi Nancy, I have a Lions Head Maple that I keep indoors. I have had it for over 10 years. This summer, I repotted it in new soil. Over the past few weeks, it has started dropping lots of leaves (branches). I have noticed that in the past, it would drop branches / leaves around this time of year, however, not quite as bad as this year. Is it dying? I would hate to lose this tree. Do I need to fertilize it, give it more light, put it in different soil, etc.? Any advice you can give would be appreciated. I have attached a picture of looks so spindly!

A: I am surprised it's still alive. Your Lion's Head Maple (Acer palnmatum 'Shishigashira') is not an indoor tree. It's a Japanese Maple hardy to zone 6a and wants to go dormant in fall, which is why it looses it's leaves. It's probably not hardy in NovI, but should do fine in an unheated attached garage. I suggest you take your photos to a garden center that specializes in Bonsai trees and have a chat as to how to care for your treasure. If it were my tree I would go to Telly's in Troy ( and talk to Eric Grant or the fellow that does their Bonsai work. Good Luck and Happy Yardening, Nancy.