Pest, disease, or something else?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by kgeezy20, Jun 10, 2017.

  1. kgeezy20

    kgeezy20 Member Maple Society

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    Hi everyone.

    The leaves on an Acer japonicum seedling and Acer micranthum of mine are starting to look very rough, especially the micranthum, and I'm really not sure why. They're both potted in 1:1 peat/perlite and are pretty regularly watered. They may have gotten just a little drier than they prefer for about a day, but I don't really believe so. Any ideas what could be causing them to look like this?

    Thanks,

    Kyle
     

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  2. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

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    This problem is usually a result of a potassium deficiency due to the lack of water, too much water, or a lack of potassium in the soil. In this case I think it's the 1:1 peat/perlite is staying too wet. It can also be caused by a lack of iron as in chlorosis or leaching other nutrients that occurs from consistent watering.

    You could use a chop stick and vertical mulch as I described in the other thread to buy time and avoid re-potting in this heat (I presume you are getting the heat too). It would give the roots oxygen and a chance to take in nutrients; and using a high quality organic fertilizer in the vertical mulching mix will cover any nutrient deficiency if one exists.

    I like the PHC Roots because it has Rhizosphere bacteria. Major beneficial activities of beneficial bacteria include solubilization of minerals, fixation of nitrogen, production of growth-promoting hormones and competitive suppression of pathogens. These rhizosphere bacteria occur in old forest soils but are absent from most potting soil and our man made landscape soils especially in developed areas of our homes where ancient soils were stripped away in the building process.

    "The rhizosphere is the narrow region of soil that is directly influenced by root secretions and associated soil microorganisms.[2] The rhizosphere contains many Bacteria and microorganisms that feed on sloughed-off plant cells, termed rhizodeposition,[3] and the proteins and sugars released by roots. This symbiosis leads to more complex interactions, influencing plant growth and competition for resources. Much of the nutrient cycling and disease suppression needed by plants occurs immediately adjacent to roots due to root exudants and communities of microorganisms."

    The next time I vertical mulch I am going to mix in Roots tree saver. It has all the benefits of microbes in their big bags of fertilizer. I found it on Amazon for around $5 and was delivered this week. For vertical Mulching I will just take out the Terra-Sorb and mix the rest of the good stuff into my mulching mix. I normally don't recommend anything that I have not done for more than a few seasons, but I have such great luck with their fertilizer I thought it was worth mentioning.
    Amazon.com : Roots 2756569 Tree Saver Fertilizer, 3-Ounce : Fertilizers : Patio, Lawn & Garden
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2017
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  3. kgeezy20

    kgeezy20 Member Maple Society

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    Thanks for the great info, John. I truly appreciate people like yourself sharing your knowledge and experiences. Really makes things easier for the newbies like myself.

    I was actually reading your vertical mulching thread last night. I plan on giving that a go. You gave very good instructions, so hopefully I will be able to do it correctly.
     
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  4. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

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    Wow! Thank you! That means a lot to me. Sometimes it's easy to feel like it's all for nothing. You remind me that some do benefit after all. So I feel good again that it's time well spent and very rewarding to share with others that are truly benefiting from my posts.

    We made some vertical mulching mix yesterday for some pots that needed it. In this heat and this time of year your maples will let you know they are feeling a little unhappy if your soil mix is not right.

    This is also the time of year where the Japanese maples with a very dense canopy will show some yellowing of understory weak branches that did not receive enough light. If you have Mikawa Yatsubusa and shishishagira in a little too much shade, you may see some yellowing of inner leaves now or in the coming weeks. More sun will keep the tree very dense or if kept in the same light you will have a tree that is more open and shows it's beautiful branching. The tree is just shedding what it doesn't need in preparation of the summer heat. It's a lesson in balance and the tree adapting to it's micro climate. Leaves are a benefit, but too many can become a liability as the greater the number of leaves, the greater the surface area is for food vs water loss via transportation. So the tree finds a natural balance by shedding what it does not need in the sun/shade and food efficiency vs water loss liability balancing act.

    Back to vertical mulching mix. We used the tree saver mixed in and I feel it is the best $5 I have spent so far. It also has organic fertilizer so it's a nice little pouch of beneficial ingredients for a potting mix, vertical mulching mix, top dressing the roots in preparation for summer heat, or backfill mix.

    [Note a top dressing mix in my world is much like vertical mulching mix (silica, pine fines, haydite, and just very little peat in fact skip the peat if you are adding PHC Roots as peat can clog the pores that divert water and oxygen to the roots, and PHC Roots fertilizer; then after applied to the root zone some pine bark mulch to finish it off). I find this limits summer stress and makes watering more efficient. Here once the rain stops and the heat sets in the water just runs off when watering. The mix contains haydite and sharp silica that diverts the water into the roots rather than running off, making the most of any water. Doing this will keep your leaves looking beautiful which sets them up for a great fall show that lasts longer too. The mix helps keep the roots cooler, moist longer, while still providing critical oxygen to the root zone.]

    Here are some pictures of my vertical mulching mix. It was used to vertical mulch a few pots and used as top dressing one landscape grown Acer palmatum applied 1"-1.5" deep over the root zone.
     

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    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
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  5. kgeezy20

    kgeezy20 Member Maple Society

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    Awesome, thanks John.

    I have a few more questions for you, if you don't mind.

    1) I know this is asked frequently, and I'm sure there are entire threads about it, but what soil mix do you use for your Acers in pots? I see so many different recipes, so I would like to hear what someone who I know has great success prefers.

    2) How is the best way to determine the appropriate pot size? I currently have a 'Seiun kaku' in a pot that I know is probably too large.

    3) Where do you get your pine fines? I live in a very rural area in East TN, and the only place close by is Lowes and they don't have any. They have some pine bark nuggets and mini nuggets, but those look way too big for your vertical mulching mix. Mail order possibly?

    That's all the questions I currently have, but I'm sure some more will pop in my head later!

    Thanks,
    Kyle
     
  6. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    John, I should chime in that I too greatly appreciate when you share your tips and tricks, such as the fertilizer recommendations and the vertical mulching - thank you very much!! You can never know to much, and you never know when a piece of information will come in handy or completely change (for the better) the way you garden!

    Kyle, your local Lowe's will likely have something labeled soil conditioner - this is the fine ground pine bark, aka pine fines. I'm here in northern AL, and all the box stores, etc, have this. My personal mix that seems to work well so far (I was using it in Kansas for 3 years prior to us moving to AL January of last year) is equal parts soil conditioner, pine bark mini nuggets, grit of some kind (currently I'm using Permatill; I've also used turface, haydite - which I can't find locally - and chicken grit), and a good quality soil. For me, the soil I've stuck with over the past few years is Fox Farm's Coco Loco, which is coco coir based instead of peat. Previously I was using their Ocean Forest mix (too dense/thick, even with the amendments added) and Happy Frog (nice mix, just not quite what I was wanting), and once I tried the Coco Loco, that was it. Retains moisture very well - think of all those coco coir fibers as little sponges sucking up the water - but doesn't get boggy or heavy; I love it, and my all my plants seem to do very well with it. It also seems to resist compacting a bit better than the peat-based soils. Oh, I also add some earthworm castings to my mix.
     
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  7. kgeezy20

    kgeezy20 Member Maple Society

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    Is this the soil conditioner you were talking about?
     

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  8. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

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  9. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

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    I never used it but it sounds like a good possibility. From description
    • Organic Claybreaker with Gypsum is an ideal product to introduce large particle Pine Bark based compost to soils that have a compaction issue
    Try it with the pine bark in my post above.
     
  10. kgeezy20

    kgeezy20 Member Maple Society

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    What mix do you use, John?
     
  11. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

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    I use pine fines, sharp silica, pine bark chips (that are .5-1.5" by .25" thick), haydite, and very little composted peat which last time I used no peat. Always do the crumble test. It should fall apart in your hand. If it sticks together you have too much peat.

    I intend to answer your questions but got caught up looking at what Lowe's offers. I was trying to see what you had available online at the local Lowe's to see what I would use if I was limited to their products.

    I have used espoma soil perfector in place of haydite at times:
    https://www.espoma.com/product/soil-perfector/

    I have also used 3/8" pine bark in place of pine bark and aged pine bark fines such as this combo:
    Southern Pine Bark Fines 3/8" - from Midwest Trading Company
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
  12. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    No. This is what I buy (no gypsum). And since I'm not that far south of you/in the same region, I would hazard that you will likely find this locally, whether it be Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.
    Shop Evergreen 2-cu ft Soil Conditioner at Lowes.com
     
  13. ROEBUK

    ROEBUK Active Member Maple Society

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    How long is a piece of string? everyone will have their own opinion on this one, here's mine. 60% Irish moss peat (my JM love peat) 30% John Innes no 3 and 10% mini bark chips plus a good handful of any good osmocote thrown into the mix.

    Made a batch this morning see pics , basically all the soils bark & feed mixed together, then last 2 pics grab a handful of the finished medium squeeze tight then drop the mass, it should all crumble then you are good to go !!!! have been using this since i started with JM and all mine look OK , potted or planted out.

    I don't add anything else once my trees are potted or planted out apart from a feed of liquid seaweed at the begining of the year and that's it !! just water and the correct positioning of the trees to give the optimum amount of light and shade that's all they need, if you have bought quality trees/grafts from a reputable nursery you should not have any problems. Will repeat this process again after about 4/5 years when the trees need to be re potted, root pruned and placed into larger pots, keeps them happy and they will show amazing colours year after year, that's all you can ask of them.

    But remember your in a different continent/ zone etc, plus you have far harsher winters/summers than we do, plus we have the monopoly on rain and cold weather in the UK which helps the trees no end i find :)

    All you can do is practice with them until you find a happy medium, then stick with it like i have done over the years and you should have no problems.

    The last picture is a large Viridis i lifted in Nov 2015 and placed in a 180ltr container then a small Wabito in a 4ltr pot the only thing they have in common is they are both growing in the same medium i have just described and shown in the pictures, look fine to me, have various sizes of containers 10,20,30,40,50 and 60 ltr all with this mixture and all with healthy JM growing in them.
     

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    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017
  14. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

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    ****Climate and component availability play a big role in potting soil composition.***

    I repot in very early Spring, before the buds break. The reason is my winters can be too severe to repot in the fall.

    I use a combination that consists of the following:

    Pine bark that is composed of small chips 3/8" to 1" by 1/4" thick commonly sold as pine bark mulch; tends to be thinner and smaller than mini nuggets. (I have used mini nuggets but I take the time to cut most of them in half with bypass pruners, a manageable task for re-potting one or two trees)

    Aged Pine bark fines that are the consistency of coffee grounds. (If you only have access to the brand with gypsum, I would try to screen out what you can). The brand we use is enrich pine fines.

    Sharp silica that is the consistency of coarse coffee grounds. This helps with root division as fine roots are the feeder roots that take up food and water and the more they divide the better. The long roots serve to anchor the tree when in the ground, but serve little purpose in a container grown tree.

    [When re-potting the long leggy roots can be pruned back. (Note that it is a good practice to have dedicated root pruners. Soil born pathogens can spread to the canopy above when the same pruners are used for root pruning and branch pruning. Not to mention a stone in around the roots could cause a nick in the blade that could lead to bad pruning cuts that could damage the branch collar. Keep your pruners separate and dedicated for roots or branches.]

    [Always sanitize with 92% alcohol to stop the spread of disease and prevent rust or staining your pruners. Keep them clean and sharp. Whenever pruning a known sick tree it's best to sanitize between cuts and always sanitize before pruning another tree to prevent the spread of disease.]

    A soil conditioner called haydite. It is also widely available as espoma soil perfector. (See link) It helps amend the soil providing good drainage, oxygen to the roots, and retains moisture and slowly releases it as the soil dries; helping the soil stay consistently moist longer. It also reduces compaction over time.

    I have used horticultural charcoal in place of haydite with great success.

    A small amount of peat or sedge peat can be added to the mix. Which helps keep the soil moist longer, adds organic matter, but too much will cause the soil to stay too wet and could lead to root rot. It can also limit the amount of oxygen to the roots and/or settle to the bottom causing wet feet in the roots which Japanese maples do not tolerate wet feet. It can cause a unhealthy situation where the surface roots are drying out too fast while the lower roots are staying too wet and rotting, this can become a big problem come Summer as the heat and humidity set into the area.


    Our soil mix can have all the components of a great soil mix and still pose problems if the ratios are not correct.

    Tip: A great way to make sure our soil component ratios are correct, do the crumble test...

    Mix up the soil and grab some in your hand and squeeze it together in your palm, then release. If it retains its shape, then add more haydite or aggregate. Mix again and try the crumble test again. Once the soil no longer retains the shape and crumbles apart, then you are good to go. (If it retains its shape then I have found in general that leads to compaction and means it will retain too much moisture and limit oxygen to the roots = root problems; if it crumbles, this tells me that the soil will resist compaction and allow more oxygen into the roots = healthy roots and happy maples.

    If it sticks together you have too much peat. Add more haydite, sharp silica and pine bark.

    If it does not stick at all and just falls apart, then add more aged pine fines and peat if applicable.

    If it slowly crumbles then you have the right consistency.
     
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  15. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

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    In addition to the information in my post above you may consider this pine bark based growing mix. It all comes down to what's available in your area / the amount of potting you need to do and time spent finding components vs just buying already made stuff delivered to your door.
    A.M. Leonard Tools for the Horticultural Industry since 1885.

    I have bought maples in a growing mix with all the components of the mix in the link above and the maples seem to be growing well in it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  16. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

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    Potting up to a pot that is about 25% larger is a good with some flexibility as it's not a strict rule rather a guide. When trees are younger the increase in size is greater, whereas a old Japanese maple in a large pot may not need an increase or minimal increase with each re-potting and root pruning.

    Here is a past post about re-potting and pot selection in detail.

    The signs of a root bound tree are usually water draining sluggishly, dieback of finer twigs, and early autumn colors. You mention the tree is doing great. So my biggest concern is that the tree is blowing over, which could damage your beautiful specimen. So we are back to the question of repotting or planting. You can have success doing either one and it's really up to you. Here is my advice on how I have done either option successfully:

    Repotting- I have best success repotting in the spring as the buds are swelling and it should be done before the buds break open and tender new leafs emerge. I do not like to repot late in the season (fall is a good time to plant, as the ground is warm and the nights are cool, but pots are more exposed to temperature swings). Let your maple rest for now if you choose to keep its home in a pot. No one likes to be disturbed before going to bed.

    -Soil mixture for good drainage- Japanese maples grow best in containers when the soil is light (not heavy like clay) with mixed minerals. The goal is to have a soil mixture that is a balance of organic matter and good drainage. I prefer to use composted peat and pine bark fines as organic matter. The composted peat I buy has up to 10% extremely fine sand mixed in it that comes from the native soil composition (does not actually have sand as an additive, rather it is suspended in the peat). Drainage is the other component, so we need to introduce minerals into our soil. To get good drainage I recommend using a mixture of sharp and smooth minerals. Sharp - causes a cutting action that divides the roots as they grow, creating a more fibrous root system. Smooth allows roots to pass by thus, growing longer and thicker. We want balance in the roots, as the roots will reflect the branch growth on top. Strong (from smooth) but diverse (from sharp) branching is desirable. River sand/gravel is good, but is not readily available for most of us and it may not provide the correct balance we are looking for in smooth / sharp and size. Aquarium gravel is easy to find, is equivalent in size and shape, and is useful for the smooth component. Sharp silica sand about the size of a match stick head or decomposed granite is a good choice for our sharp component. Be sure the mineral medium is rinsed clean and it's dry. Mix 2 parts smooth medium, 3 parts sharp medium. Then mix the organic mixture together with the mineral mixture. Be sure it's thoroughly mixed. Grab a handful of the potting mixture and squeeze it in the palm of your hand. When you release, it should slowly crumble apart. If it sticks together, add more aquarium gravel (or smooth media). I find a 60/40 (organic/ mineral) blend seems to work well in my area. Some use a 50/50 or 40/60 depending, but the crumble test is always good measure.

    -Preparing the root ball for potting - Fill a tub or bucket with water that is large enough to accommodate the root ball. Submerge the root ball and run your hands in a clockwise direction along the outside of the root ball (in my area, the roots tend to run counter clockwise, possibly do to Coriolis effect). Go against the direction of root growth (against the grain). Next, massage the sides and base to free the congested roots. Pull the ball out of the water and rake the roots outward with a small hand rake or your fingers. Trim any roots that are long and leggy. Fibrous roots are desirable, so that they can branch out into your potting medium and not run in a circle around your new pot. Heavy root pruning should be avoided. Removing up to 1/3 is normal, but not ever more than 1/2. The vigor of the tree should be a consideration when root pruning. Heavy root pruning on a less than vigorous tree should be avoided, unless you plan on buying a replacement tree in the near future. If roots are thickly matted on the bottom, use a knife with a fine serrated blade to cut some of the matting. Usually removing an inch will allow the roots to become unraveled.

    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.

    Planting on top of clay soil - I live in an area with clay soil about 6" below the surface. I have great success growing Japanese Maples in my area despite the less than desirable soil conditions. I build up my landscape beds using my mix of organic matter (composted peat moss and pine bark fines 3:1 ratio. The composted peat moss I buy has up to 10% sand mixed in it. Building up the beds will not only provide good drainage, but it will create an elevated stage for you plantings to stand out. Digging a hole will only create a clay bath tub for your maple, which will bring a permanent end to the growing season.

    I prefer to use small pine bark chips (1-2 inch long) as mulch applied 1.5" to 2" deep. Never pile mulch up against the trunk of the tree. I believe the pine bark chips allow for good water penetration by reducing the amount of water run-off. The mulch will allow the roots to breath. Also, the peat along with the pine bark mulch feeds the tree and, as it breaks down, it will help improve the clay soil below. I do not recommend using dyed mulch or shredded mulch. In my opinion dyed mulch does not add any organic matter and it increases the risk of fungus and disease. Shredded mulch tends to mat together which increases water run-off and decreases the roots ability to breath. I think its always a good idea to apply a fresh coat of mulch over the root base in late fall to protect the roots from the cold winter. There may be a better option for mulch available in your area, but keep the ideas above in mind when selecting mulch.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  17. kgeezy20

    kgeezy20 Member Maple Society

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    I am having no luck finding the ingredients at my local Lowes or Walmart or the Lowes and Home Depot in a neighboring county, but I will continue to look and order online if I absolutely can't find something.

    Where might I find sharp silica? I found some Quickcrete All purpose sand that is described as "coarse sand". Would that work?

    Haydite whereabouts? I can definitely get chicken grit if that suffices.

    I'm hung up on the pine bark. Are the mini-nuggets small enough without being cut in half? I have some pine bark mulch but there seems to be a lot of fines in it. Would Orchid mix work?

    Can't find the pine fines either. Just the ones with darn gypsum in them.

    @maplesandpaws do you think there's an advantage to using the coconut coir over peat? Less compaction maybe? But I guess there's little compaction with peat as long as a small amount is used.

    All the best!

    Kyle
     

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  18. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

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    Not sure about the sand, may need to check it out next time I am at Lowe's or HD. The pine bark looks good. Orchid mix will work too.
     
  19. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

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  20. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

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    Can the gypsum be screened out using a screen that catches the gypsum but let's the pine fines to pass through. I am not familiar with the product but I was thinking that the chunks of gypsum maybe larger than the pine fine. Make a simple wood frame with scrap 2×4 and screen with the appropriately sized screen holes to catch and filter out the gypsum attached to the frame. I always try to find ways to make things work when what I want is not an option.

    If that is not an option then maybe the gypsum is not worth the trouble... I can't think that it would negatively impact your maples. I presume the product is mostly pine fines with gypsum added to it since it says it makes a great mulch and not a bag of gypsum with a little pine fines added. Here is some info on gypsum:
    The Role Of Gypsum In Agriculture: 5 Key Benefits You Should Know | CropLife

    Based on what's available use the pine bark mulch from the picture above and orchid mix, pine fines with gypsum, aquarium gravel from link above, and some peat.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
  21. kgeezy20

    kgeezy20 Member Maple Society

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    Do I need to screen the pine bark mulch?
     
  22. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

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    Only if it's for very small pots. You can for all pots, I did this in the past when I was all about perfection, but now it's no longer a priority (realizing nature is not perfect) except when doing bonsai when using lesser quality ingredients. Most of the odd stuff, like nuggets too big or shredded wood, stands out when you are mixing the ingredients and can be pulled out by hand.
     
  23. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

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    Just a heads up, if you decide to use:
    A.M. Leonard Tools for the Horticultural Industry since 1885.

    They are offering free shipping with no minimum purchase using code 7A17P until July 5th. Just got the email and thought of you. With free shipping and no minimum you can try it with little investment and use it to reverse engineering the components to find similar ingredients locally. That's what I did when starting bonsai. The first one I did I bought a commercial soil blend to figure out what is in it and then tracked down similar ingredients locally in bulk to make my own mix. Sometimes it helps to see it in person and get a feel for things, then set out and find ingredients with the piece of mind having seen, touched, and used a good pre-made mix. Just an idea anyway...
     
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  24. kgeezy20

    kgeezy20 Member Maple Society

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    I greatly appreciate you thinking of me. Oh decisions, decisions. I can't remember, did you say you've used that specific pre made mix before?
     
  25. JT1

    JT1 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    956
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    113
    Location:
    Euclid, OH USA
    I have bought maples in a mix with all of those ingredients and they seem to grow well in it.
     

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