Does this mean death?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Dsm1gb, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. Dsm1gb

    Dsm1gb Member

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    Lately it has gotten pretty cold out. It snowed last night but I have my potted maples in an unheated shed and noticed some black on the trunk. Is this ok when dormant or is this a sure sign of death? Since most of my trees have color differences I didn’t know if this varies from different cultivars ..They still have buds on them.

    7F50D3D3-6412-4333-898D-1D1AE90C363C.jpeg 6528DB73-F048-4A38-B408-B8B4128B2436.jpeg 7B11D0FB-B696-46AE-AC45-3CD352112DD6.jpeg
     
  2. 0soyoung

    0soyoung Member

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    In first pic, I don't think so. Other two are 'interesting', but I guess that they are okay too.

    There is really very little to be done beyond wait and see, but since you are obviously quite anxious about this, I suggest that you dig into the dark bark with a thumbnail or a knife blade (just a small nick) - you should find some (or a line of) green underneath if it is alive.
     
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  3. Dsm1gb

    Dsm1gb Member

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    How green? I have some that are very green even from the outside, and then some that are more like a very light mint green only if I scrape it.
     
  4. 0soyoung

    0soyoung Member

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    Very green on the outside is just fine, normal. Green when you scrape it is okay. I thought you/we are concerned with when the bark isn't green.

    When the cambium dies, the bark gets a little punky, turns dark brown to black as it dries, and then the stem will turn whitish if it is dead. Lots of things can cause the bark to discolor in winter and things are still okay. When they are okay, you will find a thin line of green cambium on the surface of the wood - interpret what you see in the nick you've made in an area of non-green bark. This time of the cambium layer is quite thin.
     
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  5. Dsm1gb

    Dsm1gb Member

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    I was confused why I have partial black on the lower trunk. I assumed that black meant it was going to die.. assuming it was not dormant. I wasn’t sure if that meant the same thing when dormant since I didn’t notice them being black before, and only a few are like this.
     
  6. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    How often are you watering? It might help to protect the surface roots with some mulch over winter, preferably pine bark.

    Black tissue in the graft is a huge liability that usually results in death over time. Occasionally or very rarely the tree can leaf out in Spring and continue to grow if it still has some of the vascular system alive and free from being clogged up by bacteria. The first case of stress will cause collapse.

    Other cases the cultivar grafted to the understock is dead. The understock may back bud but you have lost the cultivar. At that point you have Acer palmatum growing but lost the cultivar.

    I like to give things a chance and try to give the tree what it needs for a fingers crossed best case scenario despite the huge odds against us with this tree. That would involve providing adequate water. Remove the slow release fertilizer as synthetic nitrogen is a food source for bacteria and pathogens that thrive in their peak season in late winter and early spring. Add pine bark mulch to protect the surface roots from swings in temperature and moisture.

    Scratching the bark to see if the cambium layer below is green or not tells us if that part is alive if you see green or dead, but it also exposes the cambium to bacteria and moisture loss. Since you want the best for this tree it is probably best to not expose it to any further damage. Providing the tree with what is best and waiting for spring is probably the most conservative approach.

    This tree maybe signalling that the others need help too. The weakest tree signals where things are headed for the rest. They all could benefit from some mulch and addressing moisture requirements to keep others from following this tree into decline.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  7. Dsm1gb

    Dsm1gb Member

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    I have been watering now (since dormant) once every three weeks or so, sometimes less. I have removed the mulch because I noticed some weird white stuff underneath the mulch on the soil, I’m guessing that it’s the wrong type of mulch (Scott’s) so I’ll be using a different kind.

    What causes this other then mistakes I have made? Is it lack of oxygen? incorrect soil mixture? Too much water? or a combination of both? Do some cultivars just not thrive in my climate? Or possibly issues before it even arrived at my doorstep? I live in a small town and finding all the right ingredients doesn’t exist so online is where I have to go.
     
  8. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    The Scott's mulch is ground up shipping pallets dyed. The white you speak of is common with thier mulch. It also tends to mat mogether as it breaks down. It adds nothing to the soil. I personally despise it second to rubber mulch...ugh!

    What do you have available for shopping? Are we talking Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart or do you have any garden centers or even somewhere that specializes in orchids? Much that is sold for orchids to amend soil works well with maples. Tell me what you have available and I can help you make a soil mix that works with your limitations.

    With no mulch and a dryer relative humidity common during winter you may need to step up watering to once every 10 days to a week on the shorter side or two weeks.

    If the soil is dry or pools up when you water then water twice in one session. Fill up the pot to about 1" of water on the soil. Let it drain and water again normally now that the soil surface is moisturized and ready to accept water throughout the soil. Sometimes when the soil dries out and becomes hard and solid areas continually stay dry as it prevents moisture from getting to the entire roots.

    The dunk method is another solution, but maybe more involved than some want. A trug tub or bucket bigger than your pot is needed. Fill up the tub or bucket. Take your potted maple and dunk the pot into the water and hold it down so that the water goes to the pot wall rim top but not over the edge. Water will come up the drain holes and saturate the entire root zone from the bottom up. This could be done now to get things back to normal and then water every 10 days to 2 weeks.

    The water schedule during winter depends on soil mix and climate. Your tree and the soil leads me to believe they are water deprived.

    Water now and visually check daily. This way you can see the changes taking place on a daily basis as the soil slowly begins to dry out. You will notice soil color appears dark after watering and will get lighter in color each passing day. Count the days that go by until the soil starts to appear dry below the mulch. On that day check an inch below the soil surface to see if it is still moist. If it appears dry like the top then your soil is getting equally dry throughout. (and the day to water was yesterday) If it's still slightly moist then you have found your watering scheduled day. If the soil is extremely saturated below then you have a soil problem. Not enough oxygen is getting to the roots because the soil is retaining too much water. This would indicate we need to re-pot with a better soil mix.

    Do you have access to pine needles? Pine needle mulch is a good alternative to pine bark mulch. Coco fiber is another alternative or even rice husks. Hardwood mulch can be used but avoid shredded hardwood or anything ground too fine as it gets too compacted. Aquarium gravel can also be used.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  9. Dsm1gb

    Dsm1gb Member

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    As for shopping I have Kmart, and Ace Hardware. There is one nursery that went out of business, another about 9 miles away but they have pretty much the same items as say ACE. I'd rather order online if you can recommend anything whether it be Ebay, Amazon, or whatever. Ocean Harvest potting soil is probably the best I can find, and it has good reviews. I referred to one of your other posts and bought pool filter sand to mix within the soil as well. I also gathered some of my own natural pumice and crushed it in with the soil too... Scott's Mulch seems to be the only "mulch" that I can find aside from shredded redwood. I do have access to a lot of pine needles.

    I have a large bag of Healthy Start Fertilizer which I haven't used yet either. The vendor I order my trees from as always said that over watering is the number one killer of JM's, maybe that is what has lured me away from watering less then I should be, but this coming spring will be different. I understand that they cant be sitting in standing water or heavy clay soil.

    I'm most likely going to root prune, and re-pot every single one, as I want a fresh start this coming spring.

    This is sort of off topic, but at what point should I really be winterizing my potted maples? I think in the winter here it RARELY gets down to 15 degrees at the lowest but that is about it, and it doesn't last more then two days. Does keeping my maples in the shed really matter because i'm starting to run out of room, but refuse to put them at risk.
     
  10. 0soyoung

    0soyoung Member

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    I'm in zone 8 as are most of the Japanese maple growers in Oregon, Washington, and BC. I don't worry about sheltering my trees until temperatures are forecast to drop below 15F - I just put them in the garage overnight.

    I grow my 'patio trees' in medium-sized landscape bark that I get from Ace Hardware (small is acceptable, IMHO, if you prefer) and no more than an equal volume of potting/garden soil/dirt. I apply about one teaspoon per pot gallon of 14-14-14 fert in the height of the first year's growing season = good to go for three to 5 years.

    The only reason I add fert initially is that it helps with composting the bark and assuring a nitrogen supply for the tree. After the first year, bark isn't scavenging nitrogen much, so it really isn't necessary

    The only reason I add dirt is to make the mix a bit sticky so that I don't need to secure the tree to the pot like I do with my bonsai trees (that are in 2-inch deep pots of nothing but Turface MVP). Regardless, I sometimes guy the trunk to the pot for the first season just to be sure that roots don't get damaged by the wind or an accidental bump tipping the trunk. After that, the mix should be adequately populated that the restraints are completely unnecessary.

    My region is renowned/infamous for rainy winters. This mix is open and free draining = you won't need to worry about over-watering. Bark holds a enough water, though, that I think it will be rare that you will ever need to water more than once a day; but that is easily monitored by sticking a finger in the mix.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  11. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    That maybe true, but under watering is a close second.

    To be clear (my post tend to have TMI and the needed action gets lost in the details) my instructions for watering applies to Winter watering and how to better gauge water frequency during the winter. Your trees clearly need water now. In photo two you can see wrinkled bark. This tree is severely water deprived and that tells me others in your collection are not far behind in getting damaged. The additional instructions on dunking the pots or watering twice right now was intended to evenly hydrate the root zone and avoid persistent dry pockets that can cause further damage to the roots.

    Watering every three weeks or longer clearly is not enough water for your climate and soil mix over winter.

    I will see what I can come up with for online soil ingredients.

    I agree that your trees should be fine in a shed without needing additional Winter protection. The best thing to do before a known cold period like you describe is to water. Like you said it only happens a couple times per winter so make sure they go into that period moist. Moist soil cools much slower than dry soil. The moisture in the soil will help keep your roots from ever cooling to 15F. Moist soil offers a resistance to going below 32 when compared to dry soil. It cools at a much slower rate.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  12. Dsm1gb

    Dsm1gb Member

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    I'm ok with extra information, I appreciate any information and this forum helps me tremendously, as it may seem I know almost nothing, i'm just a newbie so I might not understand bits and pieces of it, but that's what google is for. I'm a mechanic by trade and don't have a background or education in anything plant or maple related, I just fell in love and it became an obsession. I may have put the cart before the horse ordering so many, but it's too late to go back now... I'm also watering as I type this.
     
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  13. 0soyoung

    0soyoung Member

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    I'm not a mechanic, but otherwise we're birds of a feather. My favorite maple is the one that is in front of me right now.
    Sadly, I have killed a few. I've rescued a few. Experience is the great teacher.
    Stay obsessed.
    Enjoy
     
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  14. Dsm1gb

    Dsm1gb Member

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    Well, i'm glad I can learn from you, maybe one day i'll be able to pass it on to someone else, and sometimes learning has its downfalls (killing trees), but sometimes thats what it takes to be prepared for the next learning experience.
     
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