Keep or toss

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Margot, Jul 13, 2019.

  1. Margot

    Margot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    536
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    When I bought this Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Waterfall' at a reputable nursery last year, I didn't notice until a few months later that the graft was seriously compromised. I wonder now if the problem was even visible at first. Anyway, I sent these photos to the nursery and they gave me credit for another purchase. They didn't ask for the tree back and I haven't had the heart yet to pull it up and get rid of it.

    What do you maple experts think? I can't feel any roots immediately under the damaged side but maybe some are growing lower in the soil. By and large, the tree looks healthy above ground although there is a dead branch on the other side. If I thought it would heal itself in time, I would leave it be.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Sulev

    Sulev Active Member

    Messages:
    138
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Estonia
    Did you plant the tree into right depth? If the root flare is not near to the ground top, then it may be too deep.
    The plant looks otherwise pretty viable, the stem wound should heal within 1...2 years. I'd keep it.
     
    AlainK and JT1 like this.
  3. Margot

    Margot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    536
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    I appreciate your encouragement.

    After 50 years successfully planting hundreds of plants from containers, I feel pretty confident that it was planted at the right depth.
     
  4. RonnieScott

    RonnieScott New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    UK
    I think it will be fine. The graft can range from invisible to worse than what you have. It depends on the age at which it is done and the technique used, which in turn depends on how brittle the wood on the particular variety in question.
     
  5. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

    Messages:
    1,356
    Likes Received:
    343
    Location:
    Euclid, OH USA
    I second @Sulev

    The original potting mix retained too much water. As the tree was potted up at the grower, more soil was added to the surface causing the tree bark to become compromised and rot, while the root flare becomes deeper. Exposing the root flare would have prevented this but many growers do not take the time. Exposing the root flare at planting would allow the damaged area to dry out and start to heal or close properly. The tree keeps trying to repair itself but during seasonal wet periods the rot fungi spread by water continue to set the tree back each season. Damage is increased where this situation exists and the area is prone to freeze thaw. A tree native to bog or marginal areas have greater tolerance, but only in extreme circumstances can a tree tolerate constant moisture against it's bark.

    Trees and shrubs – The Garden Professors™

    If you decide to replant or replace, either way if you reduce the surface soil back to the beginning of the root flare, you might be surprised to see how low it is and what to look for next time you plant a tree. Some species are less sensitive while some soils or climates are more forgiving. Unfortunately this is not common knowledge and some feel very strongly against this information based on their experience and climate. Some may call this BS as in another post where this theory was discussed or attacked.
    You can find a difference of opinion here:

    Japanese Maple assistance

    Regardless of what people call it the problem is clear to me. I just want to offer a solution to a problem. In a forum where people can offer their experience, so that people who deal with similar conditions can learn to prevent these problems. In an environment that fosters learning. I put myself out there because it's sad to see trees decline from issues that are easily prevented.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019
  6. RonnieScott

    RonnieScott New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    UK
    I agree with that. I always err on the high side when planting. Sometimes I plant in a little mound and once the tree is established I expose some of the roots. It gives them an ancient, time worn look. I should say I keep mine in pots (so I can move them around in a small garden) so it is easy for me to reverse something that is not going well.
     
  7. emery

    emery Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,006
    Likes Received:
    301
    Location:
    Normandie, France
    Keep. Looks low to me too. This can happen regardless of experience level: I just changed the soil on a pot maple that I had apparently repotted too low at the previous size.
     
  8. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

    Messages:
    1,356
    Likes Received:
    343
    Location:
    Euclid, OH USA
    I totally agree. It's not a reflection of the consumer or really the nursery. People plant at the "correct height" based on the idea that things were done properly from the root stock grower, grafter, field worker, and each person that re-potted at the grower. My point is as consumers we must check the depth of the root flare because it's become a widespread problem.

    This involves digging with your finger (in pine bark based soils, or careful digging with small shovel, using a root rake, ect, and even pruning those roots that have sprout from the trunk above the root flare. Depending on a age and bad practices at the grower you may be removing a few inches of soil.

    I have heard Japanese maples grown from cuttings should be handled differently. I agree if very young, but any tree regardless of propagation method should have the root flare exposed after 3-5 years as a consumer and possibly sooner as a grower. It should be checked each time the tree is re-potted.

    If it's beyond 3"-4" deep and or fairly pot bound (time of year plays a role too), as a conservative approach I do as @RonnieScott indicates. Plant higher than normal to accommodate for the fact all trees settle and I can remove more surface soil each year to allow for the tree to put on more root growth to compensate for what is being removed from the surface, because Japanese maples will root freely at the surface and in extreme cases we don't want to remove too much of the roots at once.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019
  9. Margot

    Margot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    536
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    Well, after pulling back the leaf mulch from around my little maple, I discovered that it has been poorly treated from birth. Not planted too deep (there are lots of roots near the surface of the soil) but this situation may be worse . . . what do you think? I've decided to buy another so, if it fails to thrive, I won't have to start all over a few years from now with a young plant. I'll move this one to another, less prominent spot and see how it fares.

    If nothing else, I've learned that I need to examine nursery plants more carefully before buying them from now on; looking not just at the above-ground parts but the roots as well.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019
  10. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

    Messages:
    1,356
    Likes Received:
    343
    Location:
    Euclid, OH USA
    This is how you learn. My 3rd Japanese maple had very poor root stock. It was a 10 gallon Willow leaf bought directly from the grower. It taught me to look very closely at the trunk, dig with my fingers near the trunk and check for girdling roots, the root flare, and loose or cracking bark or worse case exposed heartwood. I look up the trunk for any damage or black spots that would indicate a bacterial infection. Then look in canopy for black areas of bark or black tips. Next look for any large branches that were incorrect removed or not healing.

    (Funny, once we were picking out a crimson queen for our friend Carol. When I was checking it out Carol told my wife "wow he even looks up the Queen's skirt before buying!" when I was checking out the trunk to makes sure was a good tree. I have no shame)

    My Willow leaf had girdling roots. The indication was that it started loosing some of the upper thin branches and the right root started to swell, doubling in size from May to June. I dug down and found a bunch of thin girdling roots, then found a huge girdling root on the left side.

    The tree still lives today. A near by plant blocks the view of the roots, but it makes a good example to teach people when they tour our garden. I will upload a photo in the near future.

    If this tree fails (most likely it will not) spray the roots with the jet setting on your hose. You might be surprised the story they tell. I rarely lose a tree but when I do, I always do everything I can to learn what happened and why.

    Poor root stock is a big problem. I have a hypothesis that it's because many seeds are started in square pots that are tall and narrow in size, so they can be packed together. This causes very congested root growth almost in knots as they fill this tall narrow space. They are left in these pots for too long. Instead of roots spreading outward in a nice flare, they go downwards in a knotty mess! Square pots save room, but I don't think they are right for Japanese maples if your focused on quality.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019
    Margot likes this.

Share This Page