I bought a property this summer on which there is a gorgeous and very healthy Japanese Maple (I’m almost positive it’s an Emperor 1), standing about 7′-8′ tall. As of today, 12/2, it has yet to lose its leaves. They are dried and shriveling but even with the very windy conditions we’ve had of late, the leaves are still strongly attached to the tree. I want to do everything I can to ensure it survives the winter and continues to thrive. I am concerned that it still has foliage. A friend of mine put mulch around the trunk to shield it from eventual frozen ground, but I am rethinking that, unsure if it will help or hurt. Additionally, should I wrap the trunk? (Approx. 5″ diameter)Any thoughts or suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you!

The first thing to do is get out there and BRUSH THAT MULCH AWAY FROM THE TRUNK.  Mulch piled against the bark of the tree is very unhealthy and, if left, it will slowly cut of the flow of moisture and nutrients through the bark and slowly strangle and kill the tree.  The ground is going to freeze and no amount of mulch is going to stop that from happening.   Jap Maple need that cold period and don’t need protection from it.  The most I’d suggest is wrapping the trunk for the winter with some paper tree wrap to prevent mice, voles, rabbits and deer from nibbling on the bark.

Don’t worry one bit about the old leaves staying on the tree.  They will fall off at just the right time…your tree knows what it is doing.  Here’s a link to more on winter protection tactics.

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