Death rates by year?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by paxi, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    This may sound convoluted, but if you look at the number of trees that have died under your care, what percentage of them would you guess occur in year one? year two? years 2-5?

    I am very unhappy with the number of deaths this spring (at least 4/50 - all year one plants with me). I am trying to look at the positive - meaning that if I can get the others (46/50) well established, then the drop off rates should go down relatively soon. Also on the positive, my year two plants (about 10) all look to be doing very well.
     
  2. kaydye

    kaydye Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Paxi,
    I lost or rather will have to dig out the first maple (Beni Otake) that I have had in the ground for a few years, just last year. It was put into the ground in 2005. It had to be vert. wilt, it just started dying back branch by branch, had the black lines in the branches, etc. Usually, I feel pretty comfortable after three winters. I lost a ton when I first started planting maples, both in pots and the ground through my own inexperience. First of all, I just bought what "tickled my fancy" and didn't research whether or not they had ever been successful in zone 5 by anyone. Secondly, I would buy the smallest, cheapest I could find and plop it in the ground. Now I spend a little more and get a larger tree, or grow it in a pot for a couple years until it gets some size. Third, location, location, location. I didn't pay enough attention to what conditions it was going to have to face as far as tree roots, water or lack of it, wind exposure, light exposure, etc. So, my losses have slowed and I'm actually now having trouble thinking of new places for new maples.

    Potted maples were another, different learning experience. I had to get my soil mix right and at first it was waaaay too heavy, so lost a lot with that. I just couldn't bring myself to use bark in my mix, it seemed way to light. Then I would take them out of the garage too early and we'd have a couple 20-25 degree nights and they would die back or die completely (this was in the heavy mix, too, so probably too wet). I have an unheated greenhouse, also used my back porch which was screens covered with plastic, but still too cold after wintering in the garage to be put in those conditions. Once I changed my soil and got really conservative on getting them into spring mode, I haven't had many losses. Like right now, they are almost leafed out and have been out for a week or so. It's supposed to get bad with low temps around 25-29, so today I plan to bring them into the garage for a few days. My garage has no windows, but it doesn't seem to affect the too much, even leafed out. I don't know why. Last year we had that terrible freeze and they were leafed out fully and had to sit in the garage for over a week. I thought I'd lose them all, but they didn't skip a beat.

    Bottom line, there's a learning curve, for me there has been, anyway.
    Kay
     
  3. maf

    maf Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    I've been lucky in that out of thirty or so named Palmatums I bought, mostly between six and nine years ago, I only lost two. Both were bought as one year grafts and lasted about three years or so. 'Kasagiyama' just never grew very much, I don't think it ever had more than a dozen leaves, and put on very little wood each year, it was kind of a relief when it eventually died. The other was a 'Kamagata' that just never came back to life one spring.

    I should add that all (well most) of my trees are in containers and the climate is okay to leave them outside all year round.

    Cultivars beginning with 'K' seem to be bad luck for me, last year someone dropped something heavy on my small but perfectly shaped 'Kiyohime' and broke off half the branches in the canopy, it will take years to recover.

    There have been plenty of other close escapes involving main branch die-back, root weevils etc. over the years, but no others have actually been lost yet apart from maybe a young seedling grown tree. Having said that I am still waiting on my six-foot 'Inaba Shidare' to leaf out before I can give it the all clear. Just last month after the snow melted I discovered an inch of water sitting on top of the soil in the pot - disaster! I'd forgotten to check the roots and they had totally blocked the hole in the bottom of the pot. Immediately the offending root was cut off and the pot was laid on its side to drain for a couple of weeks before removing some of the rootball and repotting. The buds seem to be swelling so hopefully it was saved just in time.

    Apologies for the digression, but that's my experience of Maple deaths and near deaths. And to answer your original question Paxi, 100% of my maple fatalities have been after the first two years.
     
  4. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    Thanks for the thoughts. I plead guilty to buying the smallest plant available and have learned my lesson that it may be cheapest to buy one or two sizes up. I haven't quite learned my lesson about researching and buying plants only with a good track record in zone 5 only because there seems to be so much varying info out there. I sure hope you are right about the three winter number!
     
  5. kaydye

    kaydye Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Live in Mapleton, Illinois, zone 5
    It's easier to lose a small plant than a big one. I was the same way. Have you ordered from Topiary? For a small tree, you get a miniature tree, nicely branched and sturdy. It's getting to be the only place I order from.

    Speaking of winter #3, thank heavens I pulled all my potted maples back into the garage Friday. We have 4" of heavy snow and it's still coming down. I wish daylight would hurry and come so I can check those outside. The lights are flickering and I'm sure some of the maples need shaking off.
    Kay
     
  6. NJACER

    NJACER Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Paxi,

    I live in zone 7 so my experiences will be much different than the zone 5 results. I would have to say that most losses are in first year grafts if you purchase trees in that size. Even in my zone I now keep these in pots for one to two years and keep them in a cold frame over the winter then plant out in the garden. This has cut my early losses and allowed me the flexibility to try more plants that are not available in larger sizes. This year I noticed that an A.P. ‘Aka shigitatsu sawa’ I purchased from Red Maple Nurseries in 1995 will be not with the collection long. When I was out doing cleanup a few weeks back I noticed evidence of borers in the trunk and once you see this sign they are usually hopeless. I was able to cut some scion wood and graft a few plants and I am hoping they will make it.

    My experiences with growing in colder climates are all through my brother’s garden. He lives in western MA and is up in the hills zone 5 and close to zone 4 conditions. He has been growing maples for over twenty years and has over 100 cultivars growing. His biggest help is timing of plantings and winter protection. He now only plants outside in spring and early summer to give the trees time to get established before winter comes. Any plants he gets after this time frame go in his garage for the winter. He wraps his trees each winter in burlap to protect them from the winds and protest the branches from the snow load. In the fall his yard looks like it is full of mummies but he has had very good success with this method. I have been after him for years to provide me with a list of his cultivars to post for others and to get involved on the forums but he is not a computer person. He keeps a log book of his plants and daily weather so he has great information.

    Kaydye has good advice also. Topiary gardens grows there plants in zone 5 and Diana is a very knowledgeable plant person and great to deal with. I have many plants from her nursery and every plant has been excellent. She puts the graft date on her trees and you will notice that many of the one gal plants are tree years old and are small trees and stated by kaydye. You can also contact her on larger plant availability. I purchase maples from all over the country and timing is very important for getting these established in your garden.

    Ed
     
  7. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I agree with Kay and Ed on the excellence of Topiary Gardens. Diana does a superb job with her stock. She uses almost NO fertilizer, which I also think helps the longevity of her plants. They are very stable, sturdy plants that have not been "pushed" with high-nitrogen fertilizers. They just seem to be tougher. I got a large 1 gallon (most places would call it a 2 gallon) from her the other day that had a graft date of March 2003!
     
  8. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    I admire your brother's industry and determination. Does he wrap ALL his maples, or just the young ones?

    Speaking personally, as a fellow northern gardener, I try to steer away from plants that require this level of winter care. (It's been hard, since I came up from the Virginia/DC area, and I miss a lot of the plants I used to grow down there.) My practice now is to plant early, feed lightly (and never late in the season) and hope for the best. It will be heartbreaking if any of my (small) maple collection have died -- I can't tell yet, some of the babies are still entombed in snow -- but probably I'll just keep plugging new varieties into the gaps and eventually thereby find out what wants to live here.
     
  9. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    thanks again for the suggestions. I don't have a lot of garage space, but I am sure that I should be able to clear out some space for a few plants. For example I will definitely try this with acer campestre carnival as I can't seem to find anything but relatively new grafts with the exception of whitman. Lucile has a very large version that is out of my price range, although probably a great deal for what you are getting. I have looked at topiary a few times but never bought anything mainly because there only seem to be the young variety online - thanks for the heads up I'll give her a call and talk to her directly. I hate to say it though, but the problem is not the plant; ie, from the beginning I have stuck to reputable sources and received plants that were well rooted, multi branched and packaged well. I've killed some real beauties!
     
  10. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Paxi,

    The difference with Topiary is that they've been growing in a Zone 5 environment for several years. That may increase the likelihood they'll survive in your Zone 5, as opposed to a cultivar grown in Oregon that has had "optimal" conditions from day one.

    I'm trying to find out more about using Acer pseudosieboldianum as an understock for grafting. This species is much more cold hardy than Acer palmatum, and may increase survivability rates of grafts grown in colder climates.
     
  11. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    ahhh, now I get it!
     

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