Ask Burton: This week, a simple, easy answer to a number of minor landscape issues. Q: My established Crape Myrtles are showing damaged leaves (brown around the edges), my Redbud leaves are showing many small, blackish flecks, and my Japanese maples really took a hammering this summer, with many burned looking leaves. What should I do to help these plants?

A: This being the end of October, I can start giving my favorite solution to many of these issues:

Don’t worry, and don’t do a thing.
The Crape Myrtle did take more summer heat stress than normal, but it should be perfectly fine next year. The Redbud does have a minor fungal disease of its leaves, but spraying it now will accomplish exactly as much as five weeks of time will – the damaged leaves will fall off for winter, and it will put out healthy foliage next spring. (Just rake the old leaves away.) The Japanese maple is also showing damage due to the extreme heat this summer, but will likely be fine next spring unless you also saw some damage to the bark of the tree.
Deciduous trees and shrubs often show a host of minor leaf issues as they ready themselves to drop their foliage for the winter. All of these issues are exactly that, minor, and probably don’t justify “Doing Something”. We are just showing more of these issues than normal this year because of the consistently high temperatures of the extended summer we just had. If you see this kind of issue on an evergreen tree or shrub, you may well need to do something, but your deciduous plants should be fine.
Burton specializes in diagnosing and solving plant problems. If you have a question for Burton, please email him at and include photos showing the problem.