Japanese maples for containers

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Jill O, Sep 8, 2017.

  1. Jill O

    Jill O New Member

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    Hello - I'm new to the UBC Botanical forum, but have enjoyed a number of visits to the UBC gardens over the years (I live near Victoria). I have a small balcony, in full sun, and would dearly love to grow a green-leafed Japanese maple in a container, so need one that is dwarf and not prone to sun scorch. I tried a lovely Viridis this year, but it definitely scorched altho' it was marked as sun tolerant. Any recommendations? Many thanks, Jill
     
  2. Geezer840

    Geezer840 Active Member

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    Two small sun tolerant container maples I would suggest are a Hupps Dwaf and Beni Hoshi.
    These
    are both smaller trees. What size are you looking for?
     
  3. 0soyoung

    0soyoung Member

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    The generic green acer palmatum (commonly used as rootstock) is excellent. 'Higasayama' meets your requirements though it is variegated - very interesting in spring! 'Butterfly' is another. 'Seiryu' is a green laceleaf that would work for you too. I think Acer shirasawanum 'Autumn Full Moon' is yet another possible choice.
     
  4. Jill O

    Jill O New Member

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    Thanks - I had a look at those, and they're very dwarf indeed. My ideal would probably be one that I could keep around 5-6 ft tall, so that it provides a bit of shade to some of my other plants. It's a real challenge going from a half acre garden to a small balcony!!
     
  5. Jill O

    Jill O New Member

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    Thanks - I had a Seiryu in my former large garden and loved it. It does seem highly recommended for full sun, so perhaps now that I've come to terms with the idea of root pruning, I could find one to fit on my balcony.
     
  6. Bill

    Bill Active Member 10 Years

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    Seiryu is a beautiful plant - the only dissectum that grows up instead of spreading out, but they will get pretty large given time. I had a couple that were 6' tall and 8'+ across.

    For reasonably small, try Beni Hime, Abigail Rose, Baldsmith (excellent leaf form!), Coonara Pygmy, Mikawa Yatsubusa, Murasaki Kyohime, or Sharp's Pygmy, offering only examples from my garden. Growing in container often tends to keep them a bit smaller and slower growing, but watch the moisture - they can also dry out pretty quick in hot weather.
     
  7. Jill O

    Jill O New Member

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    Thanks for all the names Bill - there's a good place just outside of Courtenay (Outback Nursery) with a large selection of Japanese maples, so next time I'm up there, I'll take everyone's suggestions with me and see what they might have. 6 ft for a Seiryu would probably be OK, and I could perhaps do some judicious pruning to deal with the width. Where do you buy most of yours? I'm not often on the mainland, but a nursery run is always appealing. Cheers, Jill
     
  8. 0soyoung

    0soyoung Member

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    I agree about Sharp's Pygmy - small leaves! It occurred to me that I forgot to list it as well as Hogyoku (pumpkin orange fall color) and
    Koto no Ito (nice green thread leaf that does quite in full sun - beautiful golden strings at fall).

    IMHO, good drainage is the most important aspect of container gardening. I grow acer palmatum and shirasawanum bonsai in pots as shallow as 1 inch. My bonsai substrate is nothing but calcined clay (Turface MVP). I retains moisture and is extremely well draining, but non-compacting which means the roots must be wired into the pot (and daily watering). This becomes a real problem with tall (more than about 1 meter) trees. A mix of bark chips with roughly half to an equal amount of top/potting soil drains very well and saves me from having to wire the roots to the pot.

    I use a keyhole saw when 're-potting'. I simply jam it into the soil and cut to the bottom of the pot, 3 to 6 inches in from the pot wall. I then dig out this outer ring of soil and roots, and then replace it with 'fresh' mix of bark and dirt. From my experience, this works better the larger the tree/pot and is necessary no more often than once every two years. My method for small trees is to pop the root pad/ball out of the pot (or knock the pot off), comb the roots from the soil on the outer edges of the pad, prune those exposed roots, and then replace the tree in the pot (wiring in the roots), filling with fresh substrate. Leaving big patio trees in their pot seems to solve the problem of movement (due to wind, say) right after 'repotting'/root pruning (i.e., no extra 'apparatus' is needed for stability). As long as it continues to drain well, it never needs to be lifted from the pot.

    Of course, you can always use your favorite soil mix. As long as it is somewhat compacting, I think this method could work for you as well as it has for me.
     
  9. dangerine49

    dangerine49 New Member

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    I have a Sango Kaku in a large container in my backyard with full sun exposure and no significant sun scorch. A beautiful upright tree and it changes color from spring to summer to fall with interesting red bark in winter. One of my favorites.

    P.S. My favorite is an Autumn Moon but it is much more susceptible to sun scorch.
     

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  10. Jill O

    Jill O New Member

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    Thanks - Sango Kaku is a stunner as well, and the coral bark would be nice to look out at during the winter. I had a full moon maple in my former garden as well, and agree they need pretty much full shade. The idea of having to choose only ONE is a bit crazy-making, but there will be some pleasant time wandering through nurseries while I decide.
     

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  11. Bill

    Bill Active Member 10 Years

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    It occurs to me that another maple that might be interesting is Ukigomo. It is green/white variegated (be careful - I have seen a few that are called this but are just green). It takes to container growing quite well and it looks unusual and doesn't seem to scorch in the sun.

    FloatingCloud-sca1-1000.jpg
     
  12. Jill O

    Jill O New Member

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    Now that's a lovely looking plant, isn't it! It does look as though it might be sensitive to the full sun on my balcony, though, which also is a bit open to the wind. Somewhat dicey conditions for maples overall, but I'm determined. I've been reading other Japanese maples forums, and think I need to adjust my soil mix as well. It's been fairly good for me in the past, but with a recent move to dwarf conifers (another new passion) but I think could use better drainage. Thanks for your ongoing input, Bill.
     
  13. jfuller

    jfuller New Member

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    Maybe you can bookend it with some conifers to break up the wind a little? I am in a similar situation with regards to size restrictions and wind but i am in a shady spot.
     
  14. Jill O

    Jill O New Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion. I do have a good-sized (for a balcony) Swiss stone pine (P. cembra 'Blue Mound') which offers a bit of a windbreak, but it's the sun that buggers me up. I get it from first thing in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon. I think I'll probably end up waiting until spring stock arrives at Outback Nursery, up island, and then go pick their brains. In the meantime, my collection of dwarf conifers continues to grow and make me very happy - AND they're OK in sun and wind. If I DO find the perfect dwarf Japanese maple, it'll go in place of the weeping larch on the right of the large pine. For your situation, in shade, you might look at fastigiate yews, because they're fine in shade and don't take up a lot of space. I have one that's 5 ft tall, and has been thriving in its container for 5-6 years. You can get a variegated one which will brighten up the shade a bit. Good luck to us both!
     

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  15. jfuller

    jfuller New Member

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    Nice job with the little space! There are definitely a good variety of JM's that will be fine with full sun until 3pm since you're in a pretty mild climate. Just have to avoid some of the more delicate newer cultivars.

    If you travel to the mainland, www.bamboobotanicals.ca is awesome for JM's, very helpful and a good stock on smaller, container-friendly options. Plus some really cool conifers. I bought mine from him and super happy.
     
  16. Jill O

    Jill O New Member

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    I just had a look at Bamboo Botanicals' website, and think I really must get over my distaste for ferry fares. In addition to all the JM's, I see they carry carry the 'Chief Joseph' pine, which is one I covet but haven't found on the island. I think a trip to the mainland might make a fine Christmas present to myself, to be redeemed in spring.
     
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  17. jfuller

    jfuller New Member

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    I love that pine! It is one of four [complimentary] conifers I have in mind for a future garden if I ever have a yard to work with.

    On the topic of maples though, a cultivar that I've been interested in lately is Amagi Shigure and it is a) okay with full sun and b) a smaller varietal, so might be worth checking out. Seems like a good tree for up-close interest throughout the year.
     
  18. Jill O

    Jill O New Member

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    If you like 'Chief Joseph', you'll love P. strobus 'Louie' - similar colour but really long soft needles - saw one in Victoria recently and fell head over heels for it. I had a look at Amagi Shigure, and the black veined leaves are stunning, but I think I'm going to hold out for a green-leafed variety. I like red/purple foliage in full-sized gardens, but on my tiny balcony, I'm sticking to green, yellow & a bit of variegation. And blue, LOVE blue-needled conifers. P. parviflora 'Aoi' - a recent purchase and current favourite.
     

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  19. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I had 'Chief Joseph' in the ground for about 9-10 years till it died over this last winter. Maybe due to the high rainful we got here.
    It was about 9-10' (3 m.) high with as much as 16" (40 cm.) growth in a year. No fertilizers were used and sharper drainage may have helped.
    Dwarf hemlocks do well here.
     
  20. Jill O

    Jill O New Member

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    Aww, that's a bugger - it must have been gorgeous. Drainage seems to be key for a lot of conifers - now that I have more of them, I'm making my own potting mix so that my containers drain well. I recently put a T. 'Gentsch White' in my brother's part-shade garden (aka, my Big Garden) and think it will do well.
     
  21. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    Acer palmatum 'Kamagata' is an excellent choice for container growing in heat and full sun. It will provide privacy plus shade with age. You can typically find them in a larger size for instant impact. A Sharp's Pygmy would be much harder to find in a larger size for any real impact and they start getting really wide with age (I have seen some really old Sharp's Pygmy that were 6' tall but almost 12' wide).

    It is so easy to keep Kamagata in bounds because the distance between leaf pairs is very close and it's slow growing. You can prune areas back without the concern that it will create a void. The canopy remains full and dense all around even if part of it is shaded by the wall or an overhang. This gives the canopy a balanced appearance even when part of it is shaded. This variety has some spring interest with burgundy leaf margins, a great Summer leaf texture, and great fall colors. The branches and bark are green during Winter showing off it's great branch structure.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
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  22. Jill O

    Jill O New Member

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    Thanks JT! I just had a look at Kamagata and it does seem to tick all the boxes. I'll check with nearby nurseries to see who has/can get it - might have to wait until spring at this point, but I can be patient. Sort of. Sometimes.
     
  23. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    Maybe you will find a good clearance price! The other option is to talk to the person who places their spring order at a place known to carry a good selection of Japanese maples (this is the time that many retailers are placing orders for next Spring). Maybe they can get a nice one added to their list and in for you next Spring.
     
  24. jfuller

    jfuller New Member

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    Thanks for the heads-up on Louie, Jill! I will definitely investigate.

    I did a cursory check with Bamboo Botanicals on JT1's recommendation and doesn't look like he has it, but he does have Mikawa Yatsubusa which also has dense foliage, small stature, sun-tolerant and is green (fall excepted). That said, I am not at ALL an expert and JT1 very much is so he might have thoughts on this cultivar. Not sure if it's clumping-style leaves are the aesthetic you're after or not, I think it's kind of a polarizing one that way.
     
  25. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Yes, a shame to lose it, some of the pines took quite a beating this last year. Could have been the ice and wet cold , too, I guess .
    'Gentsch White' is really nice, colour and texture. The alpine hemlocks seem to do ok with full sun here.
    Gardenworks in Burnaby, on the Lougheed Hwy., had a good selection of maples the last time I was there, at least 70 cultivars.
    Maybe the stores in your area have a varied selection, too.
    Lots of sales on now.
    It's always nice to look at the various fall colours this time of year, probably near peak fall colour now.

    Plant Search Results - GardenWorks Plant Finder - Vancouver Victoria Burnaby Penticton Coquitlam British Columbia BC
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017

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