Help caring for Acer Japonicum Aconitifolium

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Lisa Harry, Jul 15, 2020.

  1. Lisa Harry

    Lisa Harry Member

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    Hi there, I am new to maples and am seeking help for one of my trees that has been doing great until recently. I purchased this tree who I have tagged my “rescue tree” Because it screamed at me to take it home from the nursery and I found it to be truly stunning. See details of its coming home.
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    MAY 2020: The Acer Japonicum came very pot bound, dry and some leaves had died but it had all that when I brought it home, it was still providing new growth and is gorgeous. I believe it is doing very well, it has been repotted but without any root work done to it (I feared shocking it too much). I did rinse the root ball but again it was very pot bound. It was fed transplant liquid 5-15-5 and a sprinkling of bone meal (very little). The top layer of soil dries hard but below that the soil seems lighter and of the right moisture. I cannot put my finger in the original root ball. I was thinking of adding cedar mulch to the top to avoid the hardening of the top soil.
    ***
    So the nursery feels that this tree is suffering from our Less than nicer weather and also needs a fertilizer, they recommended I puncture the root ball and add some 14-14-14 fertilizer. I have attached pictures of how it is now and how it was before (green), it was brilliant green and now is burgundy but appears to continue to have new growth. I currently have a 10-6-9 with Micros fertilizer on hand but if the 14 is needed I’ll grab it tomorrow. It had no tags on it when purchased so the exact variation is not known, apparently it came from a grower who retired his unique collection. I love this tree he is great and beautiful and wants to live and I want to help it be the best version of itself! The internet has too much information and can confuse a person. Please let me know if you think the suggestions are correct and what you feel might be happening to this amazing tree. I do have a red dragon and weeping waterfall JM’s that are doing very well. The weeping waterfall was struggling a few weeks back but the 10-6-9 fertilizer fixed it up in a hurry. I do not feel this situation is due to lack of water for this tree but maybe. It is in full sun as are the other two, all have been doing very well until this past two weeks. I did some pruning a few weeks ago to it basically of dead branches and a couple that were just wild. It still seemed great after that, it almost seems like its cold and maybe suffering from malnutrition?

    Any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks
    Lisa
     

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  2. Luke’s Maples

    Luke’s Maples Rising Contributor

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    Hi. Very nice tree you have there with a great shape. I think it will be fine but will need some root pruning and new growing medium adding in late autumn when it is dormant. The colour change I suspect is due to it being put in full sun. It was probably kept in a shadier spot at the nursery and the sudden change of conditions has caused this reddening up of the leaves. My Aconitifolium reddens up as the season progresses so I think that is what is happening. When you repot just make sure to wash down the rootball again, trim back some of the roots (up to a third) and add new free draining compost mix. I use either peat or ericaceous compost, mixed with pine bark and grit. Use a pot that has good drainage and is widest at the top so as not to cause any problems trying to get it out the pot next time. Be sure to plant it high. Try to expose the bottom of the trunk to the start of the root flare.

    The tree looks healthy and I think doesn’t need lots of fertiliser. Repotting with new compost will give it all the nutrients it will need for the next year or two. Just give it a bit of protection from afternoon sun and wind if possible while it adjusts to its new location and I think it will be absolutely fine. Next spring when it wakes up it’ll have a new lease of life.
     
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  3. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Lisa Harry, good morning Lisa and welcome to the maples forum. You do indeed have a lovely maple there. IMO I would do nothing now other than as Luke said, protect it from the full sun. Japanese maples are under story trees that need morning sun and afternoon shade, preferably dappled light.
    At this time of year they are all changing with little signs of Autumn colour. This year seems to be more noticable then previous years.
    I would not feed it now, as you do not want a lot of soft wippy new growth next month or into September and October when frosts can do a lot of damage on these new stems.
    A repot in the Autumn with a loose growing medium will give your tree a very good start for 2021. I use the same mix as Luke.
    It can be quite nerve wracking trimming roots for the first time, but as long as you remove enough to allow room for your new growing medium in the same pot, ( I allow about an inch around the sides).
    It is important not to bury it too deeply, unfortunately nurseries do this to nearly all their trees. The trunk must be clear of compost or any other soil that can rot your tree sooner than you may think possible.
    Lastly do not over water your maple, more trees are lost from this in pots than from anything else. Check your soil before watering, if dry water, if not then don't.
    Your tree is a lovely shape and it will need little or No pruning in February, just remove any dead diseased or dying branches for the next couple of years.
    Do update this thread on how you progress.
     
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  4. Lisa Harry

    Lisa Harry Member

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    Thanks for your advice, really appreciate it. I was gonna wait to repot it until spring 2021 cause I just put it into a new pot in May which is much larger than the one it came in but not the right size for that tree - I now know the pot will be a nightmare due to it’s shape do you think repotting again so soon will be ok? It was in a very sunny location at the nursery but among many other smaller to similar size trees and pushed up against a glass greenhouse. My entire yard is almost all full sun So I hope it survives, so happy you feel it’s healthy. I really do love it and want the best for it.
     
  5. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Lisa Harry, good afternoon Lisa, just saw your latest post. Do not repot this year or next if you repotted in May. Every 'two' years is enough. Do try to give it some afternoon shade.
     
  6. Lisa Harry

    Lisa Harry Member

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    Thanks so much
    thanks for the details. Well shade is a very hard thing to give this tree in my yard plus I love where it is located. I could maybe add another tree to cover it but not sure. There is only one space in my yard that I think gets some shade and then I’d never see it. I do have it next to a new tree blue atlas cedar which will not provide it any shade. I’ll keep you posted on it’s progress thanks for complimenting it I truly love it! This is a pic of it and it’s friend the cedar when they first arrived.
     

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  7. Luke’s Maples

    Luke’s Maples Rising Contributor

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    It does look good there I must say!
     
  8. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Lisa Harry, it looks good Lisa, just wait for the autumn, it really is a Kaleidoscope of colours. Do post photos of it.
     
  9. Lisa Harry

    Lisa Harry Member

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    Will do thanks and hopefully by then I’ll have learned how to correct the picture orientation
     
  10. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Lisa Harry, I am sure you will, btw the contrast between Red Dragon and your lovely dog is perfect. Great profile photo.
     
  11. Lisa Harry

    Lisa Harry Member

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    Thanks again you and everyone in this forum has been so awesome. Thanks.
     
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  12. Lisa Harry

    Lisa Harry Member

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    I should rephrase what I said I did not “repot” it I “up-potted” it. I Simply put it into a pot 2-3 inches on either side larger with some new transplant fertilizer and sea soil compost mix. No root pruning just a rinsing that did nothing as it was very pot bound. I intended to truly repot it spring 2021 and root prune it a bit - still think it’s too soon?
     
  13. Luke’s Maples

    Luke’s Maples Rising Contributor

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    Personally I do not think it is too soon. It will benefit from the roots being washed off and pruned. It is a fairly mature tree and the roots can handle it. You can recycle the new compost you put in as that will just fall away when you take it out so there will be no wastage.
     
  14. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Lisa Harry, good morning Lisa, I see what you mean, that will be fine. I just don't like to disturb roots too often. Once you do the major root prune and add new potting medium, put it in your calendar for every 2 years to check and carry out again.
    Take some photos of your process and add them to the thread. Everyone will like to see how you get on.
     
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  15. Luke’s Maples

    Luke’s Maples Rising Contributor

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    Agreed. Yes it is good to see others mini stories with pics.
     
  16. Lisa Harry

    Lisa Harry Member

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    Thanks guys will do.
     
  17. emery

    emery Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Just a couple of notes about potting up (increasing the pot size):

    - Nurseries will even repot twice in a year, and I've done it too if a maple is putting on enough root growth to fill the next size up. When roots are growing enthusiastically this is not high risk (though I don't recommend it for everyone).
    - Every 2 years is probably optimal for most of us, but there's no reason to hesitate to pot up every year if the maple has filled the pot. It is ideal to pot up before the roots start curling with the pot (if it's round).
    - If necessary, for a pot bound maple, you can slip pot (without teasing any roots out) at virtually any time, with very little risk.
    - Only use the "next size" up of pots, never put a small root in a big pot. You want the roots to be able to drink all the water in the pot. Otherwise you have stagnant water saturating the soil around the roots, and as they try to grow they encounter a medium where oxygen is scarce, not to mention water molds and other issues that can occur.
    - It's not a great idea to give JMs so much fertilizer, because they push out green growth that never has a chance to harden (ripen) off properly, and is then at great risk of dieback and disease. Nurseries fertilize because they need big bushy growth to sell the plant, and then overwinter in unheated greenhouses, very easy conditions. Once in the spring with something mild, then maybe once in June with a little seaweed, makes for a healthier tree.

    As a final cautionary note, beware of advice from "nurseries" that are reselling plants grown elsewhere. Of course you will get great advice from specialists (like Larchfield, Hippo, Mallet Ct in the UK; Mr Maple, Mendecino, Whitman, Sam Hatch, etc in the US), but we've seen hundreds of instances of bad advice from "garden centers". Adding 14-14-14 at this time of year will make your japonicum look better this year, but not next.

    Cheers, -E
     
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  18. Lisa Harry

    Lisa Harry Member

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    Thanks so much for the details it’s really appreciated. I’ll keep you posted on a few things, just running off to work now. Have a great day
     
  19. Lisa Harry

    Lisa Harry Member

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    Hi @emery
    Thanks for the details I really do appreciate it. So in my quest to help the “rescue tree” I have learned a lot from yourself, @Luke’s Maples and @Acerholic . I agree I really shouldn’t take advice from most nurseries, one fellow told me because my maple is potted I could never over water it. I am no green thumb but I disagree. So the nursery I purchased my maples from have a vast amount of them and two of their staff are horticulturist one with lots of experience with maples. I know they also are in connection with the UBC Bonsai group. They helped me improve my weeping waterfall JM so I thought since I purchased from them I should follow some recommendation. Please don’t be mad at me mad I mean no disrespect by not following each recommendation. I am learning and trying to be open to everyone’s input and make the best guess. So here is what I did, I’ll keep you posted if it lives or dies. As my nursery suggested I poked about 6 holes a few inches deep in the rootball about 1/2 inch in diameter (not sure what measurements you guys use - I’m not doing mm) Remember I did the slip pot when I received it with transplant fertilizer in May 2020. Yesterday I put a few barely any of the 14-14-14 mix into the holes and covered them back up. In total I maybe put in 1 heaping tablespoon for the entire pot, it recommends 10 tbsp. Enough to say I tried but hopefully not enough to kill it. I have increased my watering because I do feel it may have been on the boarder of moist/dry and I think if it were more established in its new location the moisture would be fine but because it’s adjusting, maybe not. The leaves are slightly curled and only a couple have brown tips so I felt since we had an increase in heat here finally I’ll increase the water. After all the research I’ve done and endless time staring and talking to the tree I think you are all right, it’s fine leave it alone. Hopefully nothing I did will harm it and hopefully it will feel less stress soon. In time I’ll be able to understand it’s condition better, I feel I already do and can “see it” better regarding it’s health. Again thank you all for your incredible support. I can’t wait to show pictures of it thriving.
     
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  20. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Lisa Harry, good evening Lisa, you have made some very good points in that too many cooks etc etc etc.
    If I may I will make just one observation as you have received a lot of input over the last few days. Water when needed only and not religiously, even though it may be warmer. Check the soil first and if dry water and if not don't.
    Really look forward to seeing your maples over the coming months and years on the forum. They will be fine.
    Enjoy your weekend.
     
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  21. emery

    emery Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hi @Lisa Harry , well you're certainly right about being able to over-water in a pot! Suggesting you can't is really quite bizarre, actually.

    But you're also right about picking your horse. A good idea is to pick the advice from someone you feel good about, and even when you get conflicting advice -- and you will! -- stick with it.

    I certainly hope no one on the forum here would be "mad" if you didn't follow what they said particularly!! The most important thing is that your maples thrive, and you have fun growing them. There are a million ways to peel an onion...

    cheers, -E
     
  22. Lisa Harry

    Lisa Harry Member

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    Thanks @emery for the encouragement. I’ve been looking at the yard. I may have a place that the rescue tree would thrive because it gets some shade from a huge walnut tree shared between me and three other yards. I have a new veggie garden there called “my pandemic garden” that’s been producing magnificently. I would still get to enjoy the tree just not as easily as in it’s current spot, but it will likely love it. Unfortunately I have some minor construction to be done there end of summer so I don’t think a move will work this season. My back yard I really enjoyed but it got kind of ruined when my front yard had work done to it as it was used for long term storage. The way my house and views are designed my front yard is most often used. I’ll send a pic of my pandemic garden. It’s just me and the dog so it’s a good size, no judgement on the rest of the yard. I did have a friend make 3 planters for me though cause the garden thing is really working out. The shed area is really the only area that gets shade. Cheers.
     

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  23. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Lisa Harry, good afternoon Lisa, just seen the photos of your garden and those lovely stones, You will be able to create something rather special with some weeping maples. I'm glad you have a large Walnut tree to give some shade. That's the perfect start.
    Look forward to seeing some regular updates from you.
     
  24. Lisa Harry

    Lisa Harry Member

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    Thanks @Acerholic i have some plans that are supposed to be done in the late summer early fall for that section of the yard, then I can add more maples cause that section of the yard will get shade. I think next spring might be full of fun! The rocks, I love thanks for the compliment they are from the front yard retaining wall that I had to have rebuilt, sadly I couldn’t keep the boulder wall that was existing so repurposed them for my garden bed.
     
  25. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Lisa Harry, look forward to seeing it take shape Lisa. As you say next Spring looks exciting.
     

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