Newbie questions re: JM planting

Discussion in 'Maples' started by bkfisher, Jun 17, 2006.

  1. bkfisher

    bkfisher Member

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    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN U.S.
    I've recently caught the JM bug. I want to start out doing this correctly so I hope I may count on some kind assistance from forum regulars.

    I just purchased a one-year, grafted japonicum Vitifolium. I realize this isn't the ideal time to obtain a young tree but I made an impulse buy.

    My questions:

    *Given the age and time of season, should I pot this tree vs. planting in the ground? If potted, how many seasons? What mix is recommended and size of pot? If potted would it be ok storing in my garage in the winter(temp no lower than 40 degrees)?

    *If planting in the ground...... I probably have the worst native soil imaginable for a JM; slow-draining thick clay. I had planned on making a "raised bed" wherein a "hump" of good draining medium is placed above the clay soil which has been worked up a bit. What are recommendations for the raised bed mixture? I have previously read that pine bark mini-nuggets mixed with top soil will work.

    Sorry to pose so many questions. I realize my lack of experience in this endeavor and am hopeful for some help. Thanks.

    bkfisher
     
  2. Rima

    Rima Active Member

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    Potting will give it no advantage at all, so it needs planting outside, in light shade now, but if your soil is clay, I really question your buying the tree, which I guess you know needs sandy dry soil to thrive. Unfortunately no matter what you put in under the tree now will not last any meaningful length of time (seasons) and then what? You might end up having to use a container after all, but make sure you respect the tree's need to dry out a bit between waterings, and don't keep it in full sun. Make sure the soil mix has lots of gritty gravelly stuff in it, doesn't need particularly high acid soil, and good luck.
     
  3. schusch

    schusch Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hello.

    As regards planting in the ground I'd say it depends also on the size of your rootball - if it's a one year old graft it might be better to keep it in a pot for a while until it is strong enough. Root development might be all important.

    Someone who has more experience with Vitifolium might be able to evaluate its chances in your clay soil - one way is to plant higher than grade so that the roots stay above the water table: this is what you mean by 'hump' ? Pine bark is recommended, but not in a 'hump' of added topsoil, I'd say. A 'real' raised bed, as far as I understand, is a more ambitious construction, with walls, etc, but no bottom, and there you can use pine bark, and other drainage/aeration material (not top soil) that does not break down quickly. But I am going out on a limb here, as I have no personal experience with raised beds (all theory).

    If you keep it in a container, like Rima says, you need to know that Vitifolium gets to be pretty big. As regards the mix in pots, see a few entries below (under 'best soil to use'), there are already indications to start investigating this forum. Yes on storing in the garage - I do it with smaller pots, no problem, a good idea. Make sure the garage is dry.

    All best, and don't be discouraged.
     
  4. kaydye

    kaydye Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Dear Bk,
    I'll jump in here since I live in the Peoria, IL area (zone 5) and have been bitten badly by "the bug." I have some of the same problems you have, heavy clay soil in areas. In one particularly bad area I rototilled mushroom compost and pea gravel to try to break up the soil and improve drainage as well before planting a tiny Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum' (about 1 1/2' high). Ten years later, it is almost a 6' tree, so I would say experiment. If you have been bitten by the bug, it won't be the last acer you buy or plant for sure :)

    I have gone to buying small grafts and keeping them in my garage in winter, with the idea of planting them out after a few years. It works just fine, my only problem being getting too antsy and putting them out too early. I lost a few that way this spring. My garage is totally without light and I water them once a month through the winter starting in December. I wish I could tell you if my plan of growing them on is going to work, but I don't know yet. I did plant one freshly grafted one out this year just to see what happens. I planted three small (like about 2-3 year trees) out last year (shaina, sister ghost and orangeola) and two out of three did fine, shaina had some dieback, but looks great this year. I did lose my orangeola, which was bigger, but it may not have been dead, I messed up, I think and pulled it out too soon...sigh. I do wrap all of my maples in floating row cover or burlap until they are too large to wrap. I have about ten that I feel comfortable will grow in zone 5 if you want a list, email me privately (kdye1@aol.com).
    Kay Dye
     
  5. Dale B.

    Dale B. Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Location:
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    Planting your Japanese Maple on a "hump" is the way to go. Break up the clay surface and mix in pine bark mulch. Don't dig deep and make a bowl to hold the water. Add enough pine bark to build up the area 8 to 10 inches after it settles. The size of the "hump" should grow with your tree. Add pine bark mulch as the tree grows. The goal is to allow the tree roots to grow above the clay and the water to drain away. This works well in Georgia red clay.
     

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