Keeping acer small in pot

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Ninthofmarch, Oct 31, 2020.

  1. Ninthofmarch

    Ninthofmarch New Member

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    Hi!

    I'm dreaming of growing an acer (or two) on my balcony. The balcony is northfacing and shady. I'd like a cultivar with fresh green leaves for that zen forest atmosphere, that has a beautiful upright form, and gets up to 2-2.5m in height (similar width is fine).

    After much research, the cultivars I'd most like to try are Seiryu, Koto No Ito, and Kamagata, in that order. Seiryu is almost my dream cultivar, but I worry it will get too big (Baumschule Nielsen says 4-5m for "very old" plants).

    I'm looking for advice on growing an acer in a container - do they ever reach the maximum height, or might I expect that growing it in a container will keep it small?

    Thank you!
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Dwarf the top by pruning the roots as is done with bonsai.
     
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  3. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Ninthofmarch good evening and welcome to the maples forum. Keeping maples in pots is perfectly acceptable for areas like yours. I agree with your choice in Seiryu, it is a wonderful cultivar.
    A potted tree will always grow slower than in the ground, but there will be work required every two to three years with lifting, root pruning and replacing spent compost. This is not as difficult as it sounds. The idea is that by reducing the root size will help the upper branches to stay fairly controlled. But you will need some shaping to keep Seiryu under control for your space. I do a 'little' if this in July and if required a harder pruning in February before the buds break into leaf. Never prune in Spring.
    As your climate is similar to mine the above dates should be ideal for you to follow.
    I have attached a close up photo of my Seiryu taken yesterday to tempt you to go for this tree. Bit blurred due to the wind, but you get the idea how lovely this is especially in Autumn.
    Hope thats of help
     

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  4. Ninthofmarch

    Ninthofmarch New Member

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    Great, thank you RonB and Acerholic!

    I had read about root pruning and you've helped me feel more confident it could work (:
     
  5. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Glad it was of help, please do update the forum with your choice, with photos preferably. Good luck, but I'm sure you will not need it.
     
  6. AlainK

    AlainK Generous Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society 10 Years

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    Right. You can prune the top every year, but if you don't prune the roots every 2 or 3 years, you will have elongated shoots, and this is not what you want. When done just before budbreak, you can prune the roots quite drastically, and remove up to half the roots or even more. Even roots as big as my, thumb will produce new feeder roots, provided that some smaller ones are left of course.
     
  7. Ninthofmarch

    Ninthofmarch New Member

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    My Seiryu arrived today, and it is beautiful. I'm so excited. It is about 80-90cm tall.

    Could you give me any advice to make sure it has the best start? I've just given it a soak. Should I repot it now, or wait till Spring? I did some research on this forum, and plan to repot it into a mixture of 50% compost 50% pine bark, with some Seramis granulate (I think it works like perlite) mixed in.

    Also, I may be thinking of running before I can walk, but I noticed an odd branch that from the back of the tree all the way to the front (see blue arrows, in the second photo), that rubs against the other branches. Should I be thinking of pruning this off, or just trying to bend it to the side?

    Acer 11.jpg
    InkedAcer 2_LI.jpg
     
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  8. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Ninthofmarch good afternoon and what a lovley Seiryu you have received. Regarding repotting, how are the roots? Can you see them coming out of tbe bottom of the pot? If the answer is no then I would leave it until March at the earliest. I repot when I see the roots coming out of the bottom. Maples like to be snug, hence the reason for only going to the next size up in pots. Your mixture sounds good, nice and loose to aid good drainage.
    Do remember at this time of the year you do not need to water very often at all. The tree is gradually going to sleep until next Spring so does not need much water at all.
    Looking at that branch at the back, if it were me I would remove it. You do not want branches rubbing and tbh it is not very attractive anyway.
    Hope thats of help.
     
  9. Ninthofmarch

    Ninthofmarch New Member

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    Thanks @Acerholic!

    No roots coming out of the pot - so March it is. I actually wonder if it was growing in the ground, and the nursery potted it up when I purchased the plant, as the mix was nice and loose when it arrived.

    I'm going to put it out where it will have rain (it rains a lot here in winter in Belgium), and will not plan to water much till Spring. And will have a go at snipping off that branch come Feb.
     
  10. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    All a good idea, yes you are probably right about it being potted up by the nursery. The medium looks very fresh with no sign of moss or weeds etc.
    Look forward to seeing how your lovely Seiryu looks in the Spring. Do post some photos when it leafs out and throughout 2021.
     

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