Japanese maples container grown or in the ground, or both which do you prefer?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Dsm1gb, Jul 5, 2018.

  1. Dsm1gb

    Dsm1gb New Member

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    I was curious to what everyone’s prefeference was on growing their Japanese maples. Is it containers? Or ground? Or both? And why? What differences have you noticed, any color variation changes from either one? and which one seems to be easier in your opinion?

    I have a mixture of both, I like containers because of the ease of moving them, but love the growth rate of maples grown in the ground.
     
  2. 0soyoung

    0soyoung Member

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    I'm with you, @Dsm1gb. In the landscape is the easiest care, but I have only so much space and an insatiable appetite to have more, so they also go into pots. I also like bonsai. Rather than prune and toss, I air layer to produce starts for bonsai from certain of them (generic green a.p. from an overlooked root stock, Orange Dream, shishigashira, deshojo). 'We' bonsai people also don't like to see graft unions and mostly prize the winter silouettes, so we generally steer clear of cultivars with spectacular foliage. As bonsai, they tend to be ugly for a long time and (obviously) take a lot of time, but one more quickly develops a sense of the tree's behavior and responses to certain treatments. These can be transported to the bigger ones and vice versa. Do them all if you want to 'intimately' understand your maples. Otherwise, limit it to what you want to do with your time and what you want' lolling around' (wink wink) on your property.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2018
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  3. emery

    emery Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    I have what is sometimes euphemistically called a "medium sized garden", which means I've got plenty of space. So my goal with pots is to get enough size on them to get into the ground. When I buy maples they are usually very young grafts.

    They tend to look much better in pots, and be happier, than during the first few years in the ground, because we don't have easy growing conditions, and above all there is limited shade and a lot of wind. When we bought here almost every tree in the garden, what there was of it, had been cut for firewood.

    Sometimes I pull a tree that's really having a hard time establishing and give it more time in a pot to recover.

    I usually plant around 20 per year, which leaves me with a manageable watering regime, I only water in the ground for the first year or two. But last winter the pots were piling up so I planted over 50, including some sub-tropical species where the pots were big enough they needed two people to move them, a real pain.
     
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  4. dangerine49

    dangerine49 Member

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    I like both. Out of my 27 JM's, 10 are in containers. My first one, a Peaches and Cream, was a gift and was pretty small. I was new to gardening and brand new to JM's so I wasn't sure where to plant it. It's still in a container after moving it around three or four times to find the right spot. Containers are better for the smaller ones and you can move them around to find the right mix of sun and shade. I put some of them into an unheated garage for winter. You have to be more diligent with watering also. Planting in the ground is definitely easier and they grow faster, but you have to make sure they in the right spot. My two favorite JM's are a Sango Kaku and an Autumn Moon planted in large containers.
     
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  5. maplesmagpie

    maplesmagpie Active Member

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    I have both, mostly because my yard is so small. I have about 20 in the ground, and an equal number in pots. Because I live in the northern range for JMs, my pots require protection in the winter. It's a pain, I won't lie, to take them in and out of my garage every year, set up their heating cables/freeze protection, and water them in the winter. It's all worth it for the gorgeous summer color, though, and the chance to have cultivars that wouldn't like living in zone 5b.

    My potted JMs certainly grow more slowly. They also seem to have heightened year-round color, from what I've observed (I have a few cultivars that started out in the ground and were then potted, or cultivars that I have one in a pot and one in the ground, so I can make some comparisons).
     
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  6. Daniel Wright

    Daniel Wright New Member

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    Good God! Is your property really huge or are you sticking with dwarf cultivars? I've bought ~15 in the last year and I thought that was already crazy.

    This is a very interesting observation, thanks!
     
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  7. Dsm1gb

    Dsm1gb New Member

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    And I thought zone 7b was work lol
     
  8. emery

    emery Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    I have many more Acer species than Japanese Maples per se, and yes, the garden is much bigger than reasonable for one person to take care of. I buy small trees though, either new grafts or 3l pots, or raise my own seedlings. So I have to live with things in pots for several years usually. Currently I think there are a bit over 400 maples in the ground, honestly I don't know how many pots I have. Pots are a PITA. Here is one of my areas with watering, set up before I went away for 1o days. The sooner I can get these planted, the happier I'll be.
     

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  9. Dsm1gb

    Dsm1gb New Member

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    I find pots to be a lot more work, now with around 40 potted maples, I’m sort of a recluse mostly an introvert in life so it keeps me occupied. It also keeps me learning by paying close attention to the different requirements of each one. Currently I have a pretty small yard but want to make it completely filled with planted JM’s ,but the east edge receives to much hot afternoon sun which limits my yard even more.

    As far as those of you who have to deal with winterizing, how do you winterize your pots? I have a small mud room which is a little like a non heated shed, with windows, but I can no longer fit them all inside. I was wondering what other options there are.
     

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  10. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    I am in what used to be zone 5 and have several Japanese maples in large ceramic pots and small pots too. They do great with some help from us of course. They servived the polar plunge of about 5 years ago where we had over a month below 0 F and over 72 hours at -20F. We also have not lost a pot either. So far no losses in 12 years.

    Oak trees in our area are trouble free disease and pest free. We use oak leaves because they do not absorb water or break down like maple leaves.

    We use heavy burlap that is rectangular in shape (I think it's 48" wide, could be narrower for shorter pots; length depends on pot diameter). Pile oak leaves on the burlap and sew together length wise with twine. You end up with a snake like shape with open ends. Stuff more leaves and then wrap the snake around the pot with one end sewn closed. End with the open end and stuff more leaves if needed. Over Lapp and you end up with a burlap donut with a pot in the donut holes. Sew the open end to the outer donut wall to close up the snake.

    If the pot is tall you may need to do another donut on top of the first burlap donut. You should not see the pot. The top rim needs to be covered by the burlap donut and covers the outer 20% of the pot soil on the surface. The remaining soil surface area should be covered with 1.5-2" of pine bark mulch.

    By doing this you not only insulate the pot from cracking (none of mine are frost proof pots and they never crack) but you are also protecting the root zone from sharp swings in temperature. See, most times it's not the cold that kills potted maples it's the constant swings in temperature that kills. Warming up from daytime sun then plummeting temperature at night. The burlap and leaves insulate against these temperature swings keeping the root zone a more consistent temperature and you take advantage of ground temperature keeping thing more consistent by keeping roots warmer as cold front comes through and cooler when we get a crazy 80F day in February!

    Snow also helps insulate and snow melt and rain help keep roots from drying out. It takes a little work on the front end, but then they are trouble free during the dormant season.

    Burlap or Dewitt frost cloth can be used as a wind break if exposed to heavy winds. New trees from West coast growers should have wind break for first few seasons as they get acclimated to a new winter climate.

    My small bonsia JM and others go in our garage in large plastic storage containers that are slightly taller than pot wall (no lids on storage bins). Dry sphagnum peat moss is poured in between pot walls to insulate between pots. Pine bark mulch double ground is placed on top about 1.5" and watered by hand every few weeks. This method is not 100% like my method for outdoor storage. In 8 years we have about 91% success rate with about 50 bonsai, used to be 55 total bonsai
     
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