Do Japanese Maple Trees Go Dormant In The Year? [What Months?]

Japanese maple trees are beautiful. Every variety of Japanese maple is unique and bears characteristics unlike any other, but there are always similarities across all Japanese maples. Keeping these trees can be challenging, but it is always rewarding. If you are new to deciduous trees, you may wonder if they go dormant in the year. 

Japanese maple trees lose their leaves and go dormant every winter. These trees lose their leaves between October and December and enter dormancy to survive the cold winter months. All Japanese maple trees are deciduous and follow the same cycle. Leaves return to these trees in the spring. 

There is much to learn about Japanese maple trees, including their life cycles and the annual stages they go through. These trees are beautiful and challenging to keep, but all Japanese maple trees follow similar yearly patterns. 

So let’s look at the different stages of the Japanese maple tree’s life cycle and how you can ensure your trees remain healthy through each stage. 

Do Japanese Maple Trees Lose Their Leaves?

Japanese maple trees are becoming more popular worldwide and grow exceptionally well in warmer climates with plenty of water. 

However, the more people keep these trees, the more questions they have. For example, among the most common questions about Japanese maples is whether or not these trees go dormant and lose their leaves at some point in the year. 

Changes A Maple Tree Goes Through

All varieties and sub-species of Japanese maple trees are deciduous trees. This means that as the temperature gets colder toward winter, the trees change to protect themselves from the harsh environment. 

Part of these changes is losing leaves. All Japanese maple trees lose their leaves for the winter. Some of these trees retain some leaves over the coldest months, while others lose their leaves entirely. 

This is a perfectly natural process for Japanese maple trees, and you should not be concerned if your Japanese maple goes through some changes toward winter.

Do Maple Trees Lose All Their Leaves?

It is normal for deciduous Japanese maple trees to lose most or all of their leaves at the end of autumn. However, if your maple trees lose significant leaf coverage during summer or spring, there may be a problem. 

A Japanese maple that drops its leaves too early is caused by stress, a lack of water, internal decay, or root issues. 

If the tree loses its leaves early, it is unhealthy, and you must take action immediately. If you suspect this is the case, contact a tree care professional to have them assess your tree and determine the cause of the issue.

However, it is typical for a Japanese maple to lose its leaves after it changes color in the fall. 

When Do Japanese Maple Trees Lose Their Leaves?

Japanese maple trees go through several changes throughout the year. Some of these trees start the year with wonderful green leaves that change to a shocking red as the months’ roll by, and others begin with pink leaves that turn purple by the end of fall. 

Every Japanese maple goes through its own unique changes, but they all have the same leaf-fall patterns in common. 

Japanese maple trees lose their leaves between October and December every year. The exact month of the leaf fall may vary depending on the species and the climate where it grows, but by the end of December, every maple tree has lost its leaves. 

All Japanese maple trees lose their leaves before the winter begins to help protect themselves from the harsh winter and reserve energy and nutrients to survive the sparse months. 

If a Japanese maple tree does not lose its leaves before the coldest months of the year, it is unlikely to survive the winter. 

The exact time of leaf fall may vary year to year, as the trees will keep their leaves for as long as possible to make the most of what they can. 

But as soon as the temperatures drop past a certain point and the sunlight diminishes, these trees will drop as many leaves as necessary to survive. 

When Do Japanese Maple Tree Leaves Grow Back?

 All trees, including Japanese Maples, grow their leaves in spring. In some instances, this can be as early as February, but it can take a bit longer, depending on the weather and the tree’s health. 

The very first leaf buds will appear when the tree has cycled through enough winter nights and has entered a phase cycle that allows it to be affected by external temperatures. 

When the temperatures start reaching warmer temperatures, leaves will begin to sprout. But, the months the leaves start sprouting will vary depending on where you live. 

Below are the different regions of the United States and when you can expect the leaves to begin sprouting.

  • Midwest: Mid-April 
  • Northeast: Late April to Early May
  • West: Early May
  • South: Mid-March

That said, as global warming continues, the sprouting of leaves may start earlier than expected. 

When you notice tiny buds on the tree’s branches, it is a sign that the leaves are about to appear, and your Japanese maple will soon have beautiful leaves. 

The return of Japanese maple leaves is always a stunning occasion, as these trees have beautiful leaves from day one. 

The first leaves on the Japanese maple tree often mark the beginning of the best and most fruitful months for many people, and many Japanese maple tree growers look forward to this time of year more than any other. 

Are Japanese Maple Trees Dormant When They Lose Their Leaves?

Japanese maple trees follow the same cycles as all other deciduous trees. However, they become dormant during the coldest months of the year to keep themselves alive and unaffected by the frigid temperatures. 

Stages of Dormancy

These trees enter the same stages of dormancy as other deciduous trees, including:

  • Paradormancy: inhibition of growth; the buds don’t grow during this time.
  • Endodormancy: The tree protects itself from the cold and produces an internal plant inhibitor system. 
  • Ecodormancy: Trees lose their leaves, flowers, and fruit to maintain their energy and survive the winter. 

Each of these stages of dormancy occurs during the fall and winter months. 

The trees will draw up any food in the leaves and store it within the trunk and branches, changing the cellular process of growth to protect themselves from the cold. 

Trees know how to protect themselves based on the air and soil temperatures in preparation for reactivation in the new season. 

This cycle is fascinating, and every Japanese maple tree completes it yearly. 

Final Word

Japanese maple trees go dormant at the end of the year and lose their leaves in the winter. However, their leaves grow back in the spring, and the leaves change throughout the year depending on the annual cycle of the plant. 

Every Japanese maple is deciduous and follows these same cycles. This applies to all variants of the tree. 

If a Japanese maple begins to shed its leaves outside of the traditional autumn or winter season, there is likely an issue with the tree. If ignored, the tree may die. 

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