Japanese Maple Please Help (pics)

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Dsm1gb, Aug 24, 2017.

  1. Dsm1gb

    Dsm1gb New Member

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    Hi this is my first post. I'm fairly new to growing plants, trees etc. I apologize if this is too long or most of the information provided isn't needed but I don't know what is required Thank you in advance.

    I originally chose the Kagiri Nishiki Japanese maple tree for a pot, the pot that it's in now. I am also not opposed to planting this tree into the ground if that means saving it.

    I'm not sure what's going on but the leaves are starting to curl at their tips and discolor slowly (brownish) This tree was doing GREAT from the day of purchase in march till about the end of July.

    I had it in a place that got filtered morning sun to begin with, then to "almost full" morning sun, to a little bit of afternoon sun with shade in the afternoon as well. I thought this would be perfect since it says partial shade to full sun.

    I noticed the leaves slowly turning and I also noticed a few yellowish, almost wet leaves but the rest of the tree looked fine. As it got worse (drying up tips curled inward) I though maybe too dry, set the sprinklers 5 min longer and that didn't work. So then I thought possibly to wet, or lack of drainage, so I recently moved it to where it gets filter aftneroon sun through my wooden deck privacy screen. When I moved the pot (Terra-cotta?) I noticed the roots had grown through the single hole on the bottom .



    I have not used any chemical fertilizer or anything. I have mulched it when I planted it but haven't done so since.I live in the High desert region, hot dry summers and cold dry winters with occasional snowfall 3 days a year if lucky. Elevation around 4500 ft. I'm not sure if this could also be a pest problem? I have sort of an earwig infestation lately, I don't know if this has anything to do with it or not. When planted I used bumper crop soil packed loosely.

    Pics for reference - I have included the first location where it was in my yard, it's in the left hand corner all the way against the fence.
    The lighter is used for size reference to the pot.
    Also the hole on the bottom showing the roots.

    IMG_2261.JPG IMG_2326.JPG IMG_2327.JPG IMG_2328.JPG IMG_2329.JPG IMG_2330.JPG IMG_2331.JPG IMG_2332.JPG IMG_2333.JPG IMG_2334.JPG

    Any information is truly helpful.
     
  2. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    Hello Dsm1gb,
    Welcome to the forum! I appreciate your detailed post and the fact that you pay close attention to your tree. Of course this is coming from someone who pays very close attention to my landscape and the details of how everything grows; also my posts tend to be very long and full of details. So I will cut to the chase and then provide additional details.

    -You can plant the tree or grow it in a pot, but it can't be that pot.

    -The color of your tree is normal for Kagari nishiki during the Summer.

    -Overall your tree is still in very good health it's starting to show signs of trouble from life in a pot that is not meant for a tree.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
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  3. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    Don't get me wrong, it's a cool pot. It's just better suited for perennials and annuals.

    The tree can be grown in a pot or planted. From experience with this variety and growing it in the landscape and a pot, I have noticed the Spring color remains longest when planted in the landscape. Sometimes it will last until fall. The tree will also be less prone to leaf damage. Your margins for avoiding stress narrows significantly when grown in a pot. You will need to re-pot every 3 years. Getting the container soil mix correct to manage the various extremes of each season can be a challenge in some areas.

    Some benefits to growing in a pot are the tree can be placed in areas that would not allow the tree to grow otherwise (within reason) like areas of poor soil, high root competition with other plants and larger trees, or even areas that can't be planted like on a patio. You can also move the tree to a more sheltered area as the Summer extremes set in.

    If you decide to grow in a pot start with a pot that is wider on the bottom and equally open on the top. A barrier between the pot and the soil must be created. You could place pea gravel or 2" of mulch on the ground where the pot is placed. Your current site allows the pot to settle into the soil which seals off the drain hole. The pot must drain well and the native soil is being forced up into the drain hole and creating a plug as the pot settles. Pea gravel or mulch will help create a barrier between the pot and the soil.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
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  4. Dsm1gb

    Dsm1gb New Member

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    I very much appreciate your reply! I feel some relief as I thought it was on its way out.

    I didn't know that the particular pot it's in isn't good for it. If I do keep it in a pot what do you suggest? A much larger pot? I was thinking one of those large barrel planters.

    I probably will end up sticking it in the ground like you said, I own my place, it's just if I decide to ever move I would want to take it with me. Is it too late in the year to try and put it in the ground?
     
  5. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    Here is some information on pot selection that I wrote in the past. I will answer your specific questions early next week.

    I have found over the years a pot that is narrow and tall does not lend itself well to growing Japanese maples. Instead go with a wider pot for several reasons.
    A wider pot has greater surface area allowing more:
    -oxygen to the roots
    -room for surface feeder roots to grow
    -evaporation to prevent soil from staying too saturated reducing the risk of root rot.

    Other more obvious reasons are a narrow pot:
    -is more likely to blow over
    -has less area to catch rainfall and as the canopy leaves direct rain to the outer lower branch tips, the rain will drip outside of the pot perimeter missing the roots all together
    -soil becomes quickly compacted as roots fill the narrow area
    -root zone is less insulated from extreme Summer heat and Winter freeze.

    Japanese maples will grow in a tall narrow pot, but the tree will suffer. The tree will not grow as well and will eventually stop growing, will more likely have root related issues due to moisture imbalance and temperature damage, require re-potting more often, require more water maintenance, and may suffer damage from blowing over.

    Balance is always key because a pot that is very wide and too shallow can invite it's own problems.

    Pot selection and potting - Find a pot that suits your taste and compliments the tree, in my opinion. My wife prefers an eye catching dramatic pot, but I find it takes away from the tree. We compromise and have a balance of the two in our landscape (come to think of it, there is more dramatic pots than complimentary pots, but she supports my maple addiction, so it's all about compromise). Regardless of your taste, be sure the pot has a solid foundation. Tall narrow pots seem to blow over easily. Pots with wide sides and narrow tops look appealing, but they are very difficult to remove when you repot or decide to plant the tree. Do not put a tray under your pot or buy a large pot with a tray built into the bottom. I feel it will trap water at the base and it will not allow the base of the roots to breath, which could lead to root rot (usually shows up as indented wrinkled lines in the bark that runs parallel with the branch). The pot must have an adequate drain hole(s). A wire or plastic mesh can be used to cover the drain hole. (holes in the mesh need to be large enough to fit a match stick through to prevent clogging, but not so large that you are losing potting medium. Craft stores sell plastic mesh / canvas used for thick yarn stitching usually sold 1' square, they are inexpensive and will not rust and can be cut easily using utility scissors. Bonsai suppliers sell the same thing pre-cut into a perfect size, but they are much more expensive) If the pot has 2 or more holes, 1.5 gauge aluminum wire (not galvanized steel) can be run along the bottom of the pot and up through the two drain holes to hold the mesh in place. The wire can be used to secure the root ball, which prevents having to stake the trunk, unless you are using the stake for training or to support a young maple. If the wire is being used to secure the root ball, it should be long enough to bend over the side of the pot, so that it is out of the way while initially potting the tree. Then it can be used to secure the root ball once the tree is in the pot and potting medium is in place along the base and sides up to about half way. Then secure the root ball with the wire by twisting 2 adjacent wires together. Never wrap the wire around the trunk or tightly against the trunk. Great care should be used to ensure the potting medium is added in increments to allow for good compaction and avoid air pockets. Chop sticks can be used to compact the medium in a tight space or around delicate roots. Once the medium is level with the top of the root ball its not a bad idea to water and compact the medium again with your fingers or a very small / miniature pointed trowel or chop sticks. Add more medium as necessary to ensure to fill any low spots. Pots that are in a sunny location, I add pine bark chip mulch to the surface to help the roots stay cool.
     
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  6. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    The native soil can be cleared out of the drain hole for now while things come together for the future of your tree. As the tree grows in the current pot, you will have an extremely difficult time getting the tree out of the pot the next time it needs repotted. The pot may need to be broken to get the tree out in a few years. Pots with wide sides and a narrow top can be very problematic for trees as the roots fill all the available space in the pot. The root ball will be locked in by the narrowing pot walls along the top.

    The new pot should be about 30% larger than the nursery container that it was grown in. We use many ceramic pots. We have a few growing in cedar planters too. If you grow the tree in a pot, make sure the drain hole is at least the size of a Nickel or quarter. The bottom of the pot should be flat. For some reason I see some pots where the inside bottom is slightly raised to an inch or more in the center creating low area along the pot wall where stagnant water can collect and could lead to root rot fungi and lead to "wet feet" which Japanese maples don't tolerate.

    Your weather stays hot later into the year. So you may need to wait for cooler temperatures to plant. Even if you go with a pot you may want to wait for temperatures to get away from the 90's and into the 70's. Provide shade for about 10 days and make a slow transition into morning sun; while avoiding afternoon sun and large areas of pavement that will dry out the leaves.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2017
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  7. AlainK

    AlainK Active Member Forums Moderator Maple Society

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    Where I live, summers can be (more and more frequently) quite hot: it was over 30°C in the past two days.

    I used to try and find ceramic pots suited to the colour of the leaves, but more and more often, I tend to use plastic pots or just plain clay pots because I found that glazed ceramic pots can get very hot and keep the heat after sunset, which is not good for Japanese maples. Less spectacular, but better for the trees I think, and easier to move too because they're not as heavy as ceramic pots.

    One that I keep in such a pot. It gets the sun from 10 to 17, but the bottom is "protected" by the weeds (^^) and a pomegranate in a blue pot from 14 to the rest of the day.

    acerp_atro-dis01_170829a.jpg
     
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  8. Dsm1gb

    Dsm1gb New Member

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    Thank you for your help! Everyone has helped me more than I could have asked for and I can't thank you all enough.

    As for winter, do I need to bring it inside? Leave it where it stands or use a pot heater of some sort?
    Is morning sun always better than filtered afternoon sun after its established? I have places where it would only get like 2-3 hours of morning sun and the rest is shade I feel that it wouldn't get enough sun.

    I haven't had very good luck with Japanese maples and I really love them and want to perfect them. I had another one that was only a year old, lasted through the next year, and it was doing great, all of the sudden it started looking dried up so I panicked added water more frequently and it just died. I have a hard time distinguishing dried up leaves from leaf schorch/dry conditions vs too wet etc.

    From now on I will pay closer attention to my conditions soil wise, pot wise, water wise, and location.
     

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