Hi, New to the forum...Thought that I would reach out for some help...

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Dork Fish, Apr 15, 2015.

  1. Dork Fish

    Dork Fish Member

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    Hi,
    I have been gardening for a while but I thought that I would take a chance at Japanese maples. I have always wanted to try growing them and decided to make the leap.

    I bought the Japanese Maple book, The complete guide to selection and cultivation, 4th edition. (Vertrees) I've done lots of research and I really want to succeed at this.

    I placed my first order of graph size maples. They came in on Tuesday. They look really nice. I will try to take some pictures of them and post later. Then you guys are more than welcome to critique them.

    I will give a little bit of a background on my purpose...

    I currently reside in NW Illinois (zone 5) but eventually (10 years +- 1) we are going to be moving south (8b). I want to build a Japanese garden. So I thought that I would start growing maples now in hopes that I can move them South with me. I am going to keep them in containers.

    So I was hoping that you guys would like to chime in... open to ALL suggestions...

    My first order were all graft size. I purchased 18 cultivars. She told me that they were ready to be potted up to 1 gallon containers. So I guess that leads to my first question...

    1.)Can I do that now? They are leafed out and currently in 4" containers.

    I have been researching the use of the "gritty mix". So I thought that I would try it.

    I went out and purchased"

    Pine bark nuggets (trying to screen now)
    Turface
    Mt Airy white chips #1

    2.) Should I add anything else to this mix?


    List:
    Beni Shichenhenge
    Spider Web
    Corallinum
    Emperor 1
    Kasagiyama
    Shirazz
    Orange Dream
    Lima Gold
    Matsukaze
    Murasaki kiohime
    Grandma Ghost
    Osaka zuki
    Purple Ghost
    Yezo nishiki
    Tsumagaki
    Katsura
    Aureum
    Utsu semi

    Thank you in advance
    Andrea
     
  2. Cjart

    Cjart Active Member

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    I am certainly no expert on growing Japanese maples in pots or the make up of potting mix for them, but if the source you purchased them from said they were ready to be in larger pots I would go ahead. I am assuming that they would be more protected from low temps in a larger pot with more soil around the roots. There are many contributors to the forum that have discussions about potting mixes, so if you have looked at them, you know more than I do. Are they going to be in a protected location? Sounds like a fascinating selection. It will be a really interesting project to watch them grow and change.
     
  3. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    Welcome from another Andrea :) Looks like a nice list you have there, pictures are always welcome here.

    Re-potting - If the trees are still in the process of leafing out, or the leaves still seem (look, feel) somewhat soft, WAIT. Leaf-out is a critical time for any tree, and if you re-pot/mess with the roots during this time, you could shock it to the point of killing it. Since they are in pots currently, waiting a few weeks won't do them any harm. When you do re-pot, you'll want to untangle and loosen the roots. As they are such young trees, you shouldn't have to do much of this. Getting the roots sorted now, though, will pay dividends later on when you don't have a tree that's being choked by its own roots. Out of curiousity, where did your trees come from?

    Secondly, and unfortunately this is going to be a bit of trial and error for you, there's no getting around it, your climate will dictate what your soil mix will be. Here in Kansas, we're HOT and humid in summer though often with little rainfall, dry and cold in winter, and always the lovely wind. So, I need a mix that retains moisture well but doesn't stay waterlogged. For me, I use equal parts turface, pine bark mulch (not the nuggets, WAY too big/bulky), Fox Farm's Coco Loco and/or Happy Frog (a good quality soil pays for itself in the long run), and Hapi Gro (a composted pine bark). This gives me 'chunk' for aeration and drainage, grit for drainage and fine root development, richness and moisture retention. For you, more grit might be necessary, or more organic, it could go either way. I also use the fabric smart pots (I usually prefer the Dirt Bag brand), and I find my trees are much happier in our hot, humid summers - the roots aren't steaming in the plastic pots - but it does require watering a little more frequently. Conversely, they also then require a bit more protection in the winter, but the trade-off is worth it to me.

    If you have further questions or need clarification, don't hesitate to ask!
     
  4. Cjart

    Cjart Active Member

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    I am glad that someone with much more knowledge and experience chimed in on this! Thanks Andrea
     
  5. emery

    emery Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Just wanted to say hello, and welcome to the forum, Andrea!

    The other Andrea :) has given good advice, don't repot during growth phase. For me after initial growth but before July growth is OK, or early fall.

    Mix really seems to depend on local conditions, so again as she says some experimentation is required. I killed a lot of maples doing this, hoping you have better luck!

    cheers,

    -Emery
     
  6. Dork Fish

    Dork Fish Member

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    Thank you all for your help and welcomes! this is great!

    I snapped a couple of pictures this morning. Maybe by the pictures, you guys can tell about the leaf stage. ..
     

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  7. bub72ck

    bub72ck Active Member

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    Welcome to the forum. Love your variety of maples! You should have some really nice trees by the time they go into your actual garden.
     
  8. Dork Fish

    Dork Fish Member

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    Thank you!

    I haven't finished screening the granite, but here is a picture of the pine bark and turface...

    Does the bark look to be the right size?
     

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  9. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    To be on the safe side, I would hold off another few weeks before repotting - small, young maples like these shock much easier (and therefore die quicker) than older, larger trees with well-established root systems (whether in the ground or in a pot). Little babies just don't have that buffer zone, so err on the side of caution. Where did the trees come from? That will give an idea of how far along they are.

    Your sizing looks good. In your first picture of the turface and the bark, that pot up in the right corner? You don't want as dense and rich as that, but you need some of that in your mix to absorb and retain moisture. If you were in Oregon, with the higher humidity and frequent rain, you could easily go for a really chunky mix with little actual soil, but not in Chicago. I'll try to get a picture of my mix so you can see, in general, what you should be aiming for to start with.
     
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  10. Dork Fish

    Dork Fish Member

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    Got it!

    Oh sorry, that is a picture of one of my oaks. That mix is Metro mix 510.

    Oh, a picture would be great!
     
  11. Dork Fish

    Dork Fish Member

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    Should I start any sort of preventative spraying, etc?
     
  12. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    Hopefully you can see well enough the texture of my soil mix.

    Since you can be fairly humid, you could do a copper spray (fungicide and bactericide), and/or a horticultural oil (insect control), but it's a bit late for the latter - typically this is done in very late winter/early spring before bud break as a preventative. Same goes for the copper spray.
     

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  13. Dork Fish

    Dork Fish Member

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    Wow, that looks finer than what I have. ..

    Ah, okay.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2015
  14. Dork Fish

    Dork Fish Member

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    Okay, I mixed equal parts:

    Pine Bark (screened to 1/2-1/4")
    Turface (screened to 1/8")
    Mt. Airy white chips #1 (same thing as Gran-I-grit: grower size) screened to 1/8"

    It barely had any bark, so I added another good handful. I don't know, It just doesn't look right. I am skeptical. It just doesn't look like enough organic material in there...

    I have metro mix 360 & metro mix 510. Should I add some of that to it?
     

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  15. Schattenfreude

    Schattenfreude Active Member

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    Andrea,
    I, too, have played around with various soil recipes after reading up on the gritty mix. I tried a couple small trees in pure gritty mix, but didn't fertilize as often as I should have. Trees survived, but really didn't grow much and I had to water nearly every day. From what I recall, the traditional gritty mix is for plants that won't be repotted for up to 5 years. With young maples, I have to think that you'll be repotting every couple years so I'd recommend going to the 5-1-1 mix.

    I repotted all of my maples last month and used a variation of the 5-1-1 mix, substituting the peat moss with compost instead. With our heat and wind in the summer, I just don't have the time to water every day, let alone twice a day when in the 90's and 100's. And to be honest, I just can't imagine plants and trees growing well in pine bark and rocks. I'm also too lazy to adhere to a regular feeding schedule with all of my trees and plants. So in adding the compost, I hope to spend less time watering and that the trees will be more forgiving when I forget to fertilize. I also plan to bury my pots in the ground come June (like I do every winter) to save on water, not to mention it will all look a lot more natural.

    You could always try out a couple different recipes, given the number of trees that you have. See which one works best after a year or two and then repot down the road with the most successful soil.

    Please keep us posted on how things go!

    Kevin in KC
     
  16. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    You definitely need more organic in there. I'm not familiar with the metro mixes; what's in them? Like Kevin said, with a mix like you have pictured, you'll be watering daily if not 2-3x per day. Bark only holds so much moisture, same with the turface, and the granite - zip. You need something to retain that water. Japanese maples don't like to be sitting in a swamp, but they do not like to be dry either, especially come the summer. Pure potting soil is too dense and water-logged for them, but what you have pictured is too loose. Now, if you'd mix a good potting soil in with your current mix - say 1/3:2/3 or maybe even 50:50 soil to the bark mix - you'd probably be about right. But from there, you'll have to play around with it to find what's best for your climate.
     
  17. Dork Fish

    Dork Fish Member

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    Yeah, I am thinking that the current mix would be WAY too much work. I don't want to have to water EVERY day or multiple times a day. So I think I am going to add some soil to it.

    I will have to look in to the 5-1-1 mix. Not sure what it is made up of... I hear on the watering. I need them to be more forgiving. LOL
     
  18. Dork Fish

    Dork Fish Member

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  19. Schattenfreude

    Schattenfreude Active Member

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    The 5-1-1 mix consists of:

    • 5 parts pine bark fines
    • 1 part peat moss
    • 1 part perlite
    Much cheaper and easier to make, not to mention more organic. I'm confident that you could use your Metro mix instead of the peat since most potting mixes are primarily peat moss. Mix up a small batch and fill a small pot, then water it thoroughly and see how fast the water runs out the bottom. If water pools on the top, slowly soaking to the bottom, chances are that it's not porous enough.

    Actually, since you've already got the gritty mix, simply add more pine bark and your Metro mix to it. NO need to start from scratch with the different ingredients.

    Kevin in KC
     
  20. Dork Fish

    Dork Fish Member

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    Okay, I added the Metromix 510 because it has more bark...

    This is 50:50 Gritty mix and Metromix 510... Should I add more 510?
     

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  21. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    That looks pretty good! Give it a try and see how your trees like it. Keep an eye on how long they stay moist (obviously weather will be a factor), and you can adjust from there. Or, like Kevin said, try a few different mixes with a few trees in each. :)
     
  22. Dork Fish

    Dork Fish Member

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    Can you post a video on this forum?
     
  23. Jaybee63

    Jaybee63 Active Member Maple Society

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    I go with 50/50 john Innes no3 which is a loam based with grit potting soil and pine bark nuggets and have good growth and no problems. Most of mine are in unglazed terracotta pots so won't become waterlogged as the terracotta breaths.


    John
     
  24. Dork Fish

    Dork Fish Member

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    I decided to go ahead and re-pot the bigger plants. I pulled one out of the tree band and it had a ton of roots. It was definitely ready to be moved. I tried untangling the roots but I was so nervous that I was going to damage them.

    I wondering if I should let the smaller ones go one more growing season? I will pull a couple and snapped a picture of the root system...

    I did find in re-potting them, that the bark naturally wanted to come to the top of the mixture. So by the end of the mix, there wasn't a lot of bark left. I started added more bark after a couple of re-pottings. I may have to go back and re-do a few of them. I am afraid they are not draining quick enough.

    I took about a 30 second video of how the water drains. After filling the top of the pot up (probably 1"+) to the top, it took about 30 seconds for the water to disappear into the pot. Does this sound about right?

    I have attached a picture of the root structure (after untangling) of the big trees...

    The second and third picture is the root structure of the smaller trees...
     

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  25. Cjart

    Cjart Active Member

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    Just wondering how big are the pots you are transplanting into?
     

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