JM in pot slowly dying, please help

Discussion in 'Maples' started by rookie plant guy, Sep 17, 2007.

  1. rookie plant guy

    rookie plant guy Member

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    I'm new to gardening but fell in love with the Japanese Maple while landscaping this summer. I live in an apartment and have tried to grow a JM in a pot on the balcony. After about a month the leaves are brown and curling with very little green left in the center. It's mainly in the shade with little to no direct sun. I think I may be over-watering it?!
    Please let me know if more information is needed or how I can save the poor little guy.

    Thanks
     
  2. alex66

    alex66 Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    if in Ontario in this period there is hot wind is normal the solution is cover the maple to the hot wind in pot if is no large water ever day in morning
     
  3. whis4ey

    whis4ey Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    My guess is that if you think you are over watering it then you probably are
     
  4. rookie plant guy

    rookie plant guy Member

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    Thanks for your responses. If I cut the watering back how long should I expect to see an improvement?
     
  5. whis4ey

    whis4ey Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    At this time of year healthy plants are beginning to show their autumn colour and drop their leaves
    If your plant has been stressed from over watering it may well not show much in the way of fall colour this year and may just drop all its leaves
    You will see it bounce back next spring
     
  6. nelran

    nelran Active Member

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    I agree with alex, even in shade, the "hot wind efect" will cause leaf scorch. That's happen to me with some of my JMs. They lost all they "spring" leaves due sun scorch, and resprout again most of them a month ago. Other cause is the plant shock or stress due the new location. I think if the plant is healty, it will recover completely next year. Now is almost fall, so it's too late to produce new leaves. Keep observing it, but I believe that's normal due this conditions.
     
  7. spookiejenkins

    spookiejenkins Active Member

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    In a pot, do be very careful of fertilizing. JMs need surprisingly little feeding and some do best with NONE. Even if you don't fertilize, the potting soil you used may have had incorporated slow-release feed, like Osmocote. Slow rerlease fertilizers only release nutrients at certain temps - and generally the warmer the temp, the more nutrients released. Unfortunately, this can mean your tree got a big shot of fertilizer all at once - which they never need, especially in the heat. Also, synthetic ferts use salts as the delivery system for nutrients and can build up in the soil - very readily in pots. Salts alone can fry a maple in no time.

    Make sure your soil drains well and when you do water, water until you see it trickling out of the bottom of the pot. Don't let the pot sit in a saucer either. JMs hate wet roots and have tremendous problems in soggy sites.

    The only other precaution I can recommend you take is to make sure the pot isn't too big for the tree. JMs grow slowly and do much better being a little snug. If you have a smal tree in a big expanse of soil, that excess soil compacts a bit and stays damp - fostering all sorts of bad pests and diseases that cause root rot.

    Salts, over-fertilization, and root rot problems all cause crispy leaves. Depending on the cultivar you have - I wouldn't worry too much about "hot wind". ??? It is much more likely to be a problem with the soil.

    Also, I am a firm believer in liquid seaweed. Its great for plants in pots. It seems to help strengthen and revitalize any plant. I can't explain the science - maybe one of the super plant people in this forum can (I'm only a rookie here) - it has to do with plant hormones.

    Good luck and let us know what happens!
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2007
  8. Maple Sydney

    Maple Sydney Member

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    Hello people, my first post.

    I also have a Japanese Maple in a pot on my balcony. It is an Atropurpreum (?) according to the label.

    It is shaded most of the time except for about 2 hours in the late afternoon (4-6pm).

    I bought the plant in spring (September in Australia) and added some slow release fertilizer. I watered it every second day with 2 liters (0.4 gallon). The pot is about 50cm (20 inches) in diameter and 20cm (8 inches) tall. It's a self-watering pot which have a built-in saucer at the bottom.

    The plant grew heavily for a few weeks but when the weather warms up it started to lose its leaves. There is now only about 1/4th of leaves remaining. There was one day during the period which the temp went up to 90F. Summer here can have a few days of 90-100F, but this is rare. Of much more concern is the wind which can be gusty at times.

    When the plant was growing heavily I also cut about 1/4th of the two main vertical branches, as it was getting much to tall and the plant started to bend.

    I talked to the nursery and was firmly told I need much more water. They recommended miniumum of 6 liters (1.3 gallon) every day. So I followed.

    Now 2 weeks later the plant is still losing some leaves. The branches are reddish, however 2 branch tips are black (about 1-2 inches). There is also 2 new buds which sprouted 4 leaves each, high near the top of the plant. There is no sign of buds lower and on the 2 side horizontal branches.

    Can I expect the plant to survive and get some new growth spurt soon? It's still mid spring here in Australia.
     
  9. nelran

    nelran Active Member

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    See the comments above (spookiejenkins). Use the "finger test" to check if the soil is damped but not soggy. Anyway, I will recomend to change the pot to avoid accumulation of water in the saucer. The key here is allow a good drain. I have 3 small atropurpureums and one of them was in a big pot (in fact too big for the plant's size), and even with good drainage holes; It was too much wet. It lost most of the leaves, so I inspected the soil and re-potted in a smaller container with loam soil and peat moss. Now, (even in fall here) it is recovering and producing new leaves. So check these conditions.

    Nelson
     
  10. alex66

    alex66 Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    I agree with Nelson the correct dreinage is the "key" of the good grow ,when the wind is more no problem covered the pot in house!!
     
  11. Maple Sydney

    Maple Sydney Member

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    Thanks Nelson and Alex.

    I did a finger test and the soil is moist but not soggy.

    There is a plate between the bottom of the container and the saucer. The principle between the self-watering pot is that when excess water flows from the soil through the plate and through the saucer, the water will drain out between the gap out into the ground. I have attached a picture of the pot and also a commercial ceramic type.

    With this principle, is it still the cause of the problem I'm experiencing? I *think* with the plastic plate in place between the bottom of the pot and the saucer, the roots *shouldn't* be soaked. I'm just reluctant to repot the plant and stress it further if this is not the cause.

    I've also attached a picture of the maple. Thanks again for your help.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. nelran

    nelran Active Member

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    It looks good. probably it's just a little bit stressed due a new location and the shot of fertilizer. It will take some time (a few weeks probably) to recover. Also It's showing some new sprouts so I think it will be fine. Don't worry too much. Some of my new JMs had similar behavior, and they recovered very well. Just keep waching it, that's all.
    Nelson
     
  13. Maple Sydney

    Maple Sydney Member

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    An update - my instinct said to repot the plant and I did.

    To my shock horror I found the 'plate' has completely disintegrated and the bottom of the old pot is completely soaked!

    I bought a 'normal' 6 gallon pot, no more those self-watering pot!

    The roots seems okay, there is two main big roots which circles the pot. But strangely there is no root ball. Is this a cause for concern? Hopefully I did this in time...
     
  14. nelran

    nelran Active Member

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    It seems you find the problem, finally! It will recover, but probably it will take some time. Just keep checking the plant in a regular basis (Just in case ;-).

    Nelson
     
  15. alex66

    alex66 Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    at this point prune a little some branch, this is one help for the roots of maple ,for more advice read FAQ in top page "How plant a maple" post again!!! alex
     
  16. Maple Sydney

    Maple Sydney Member

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    I've also bought and added liquid seaweed yesterday. Let's see if this stuff really does wonder as some members say in this forum.

    But I'm a bit confused as to what seaweed really is. Is it classified as a fertilizer, but contains very little nitrogen? According to wikipedia it still contains some nitrogen, but as some of it's purposes are to strengthen roots and reduce transplant shock, I thought nitrogen is bad for maples and weak roots?

    In any case, I added half the recommended dose (1/3rd of the vial, or 10ml) mixed with 3 liters (0.7 gallon) of water.
     
  17. nelran

    nelran Active Member

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    I used Seaweed (Maxicrop) with my JMs (just a little bit only once time during summer season). However, I suggest not use any fertilizer or other product rigth now with your JM. Just wait until the JM be fully recovered from its soggy "feet" shock....
     
  18. alex66

    alex66 Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    yea no fertilize ,i seen again your pics in photo N°3(rigth)the water in the dish under the pot is not good idea maples lovely fast dreinage and insect prefer this conditions...alex
     
  19. Maple Sydney

    Maple Sydney Member

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    Is it safe and recommended to add some Superthrive to my maple?

    I read some info on the product and it's apparently hormones/vitamins and not a plant food.

    Will this help my damaged roots or is it better to just leave it alone?
     
  20. nelran

    nelran Active Member

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    superthrive it's a matter of discussion in any garden forum: some people don't believe in its properties, while others say it's a wonderful product with spectacular properties. I can't certify if the product works or not. Some JMs nurseries recomend it. You can use it in a very diluted solution (10 drops per gallon of water) with your maple, I don't think it will damage it. However, my advice is let your maple rest a little bit. (If you wish, later, you can use a very weak solution of water with epson salts, about two teaspoons per gal/water). More important is the soil mix and the water schedule, both things are intimate related in potted mapples. Good drainage is essencial, so the soil needs to be carefully mixed. The recipes for mixing potting soil varies greatly, everyone has their own recipe. Some growers use Azalea/rose mix (commercial bags), while others use only sheedred bark with sand, and others use mixes (in different proportions) of fir (shreeded) bark, perlite (NOT vermiculite), and peat moss. You can find out more info in the web and in this forum; but for now your maple will be fine with its original soil.

    Nelson
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2007
  21. Maple Sydney

    Maple Sydney Member

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    Thanks Nelran.

    I will put off Superthrive for now as I have doubt with not all people having success with it.

    As to my original soil, I 'think' the osmocote fertilizer which came blended with the original soil is holding down the plant at the moment. I suspect some roots are still getting burned, as some new leaves (1-2 inches length) are deformed and curled.

    There are now about 8 new sprouts on the tree.

    Should I repot the plant with new soil which doesn't have any fertilizer blended in, or will that just cause more stress to the plant?

    Some info on the soil: http://www.debco.com.au/products/potting/terracotta.php . It also has water-storing crystals which can be bad (?) for maples.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2007
  22. alex66

    alex66 Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    for me repot in autum
     
  23. nelran

    nelran Active Member

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    Well, as contrary here, I suppose you're almost in half of spring heading summer season. In my case I had to "replant" all my maples during spring (April-may) because I didn't have chance to do it during fall or winter (I just moved to my house in spring), but my Jms responded very well. I think if you have concerns about your maple, and you will feel more confortable doing it, go ahead and replace the soil now.
    Avoid to remove too much soil for the root ball or disturb it excesively, and also don't expose the roots for a long time to air. (Try to do it early in the morning or at evening).
    Problably you're right about Osmocote. I didn't have used it, and some collectors reported problems using it. Ussually JMs not require any fertilizer at all or sometimes just use small doses (water solution is preferable) once a year if they're keeping in containers.

    Your link shows a very good container (wider than deeper is preferable because JMs have surface roots, and like light "aireated" soil).
    I don't know the soil type shown in the link, but it seems good for the maple. Anyway avoid someting that keep the soil watterlogged or too damped.
    I just finished yesterday to repot some of my new maples, and I used this general formula that works for me here for JMs in containers: 60-70% of "soil conditioner" (basically is shredded bark from fir/redwood about 3/8 to 1/2" size),15-20% perlite and 10-15% of spagnum peat moss. I mixed it by hand to "feel" the texture and weight. I obatined a good consistency and good drainage. Again, in your case, for only one maple; you won't need to get all these products to prepare soil mix, so you can use any good commercial soil for azaleas/rododendrons (sligty acidic) or roses.
    From your comment, it looks like your JM is recovering due the fact that its sprouting new leaves. Keep it well watered to wash out the residual salts in the roots, and check that it won't be soggy, and it is draining well. (Use your finger to chech the moisture) but overall things: be patient, I think it will recover in two or three weeks.

    Nelson
     

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