Question From: B. Oster - Lilliwaup, Washington, United States
Q: Purple Ghost Japanese maple has been in ground for two-three seasons in zone 8 in North western Washington state Last year I noticed parts of all of small branches had no leaves and the branches were dry , brittle. This summer the problem seems worse ; one of the main branches coming off the trunk has no leaves . The tree is about 5 .5 ft tall . It Does not seem to be putting out new branches. The leaves of the branches which aren't dry/dead look fine; No wilting or scorching . I've given plenty of water since planting three autumns ago. The tree is in a spot next to larger evergreens and native salal, though we did cut down a couple of the native trees within the past month .
I don't have a crystal ball, but my research says this tree is not drought tolerant. As you said it is competing with larger evergreens and other native trees for moisture, If it was a Band B it lost up to 70 percent of its root structure in the digging. Also it was suddenly exposed to more sun with the removal of the other trees. Winter winds may also be an issue. You may have it in a poor location. Soil quality and pH may also be impacting. These are originally understory trees and grow in protected areas. Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy