Potting containers and correct soil

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Luke’s Maples, May 29, 2019.

  1. Luke’s Maples

    Luke’s Maples Active Member

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    Hi all

    I know this will have been covered over the years and across various other threads. 95% of my Japanese Maples are in containers and will most likely spend the rest of their (my) life in these conditions. I believe many of you also grow your trees in containers, so there will be a wealth of knowledge on the subject. This may also result in answers for anyone else out there who may be new to this world.

    1) Containers - As Japanese Maples have relatively shallow root systems, with a tree that is more than a few years old, is it better to have a shorter wider container? I am trying to repot my trees in to plastic as they have better drainage, and the ceramic pots hold the heat in. I sometimes watch the videos on YouTube posted by ‘Amazing Maples’. This guy who is based in Seattle has an eye watering collection. He buys and sells mature/specimen trees and he keeps them in huge plastic pots that are shorter than they are wide. I am struggling to find somewhere that sells these. Can anyone share their views on this, and if anyone in the UK knows where to buy them from then that would be great.

    2) Soil - I know our trees love acidic well draining soil. Until I joined this forum only a few weeks ago I have just been using regular Ericaceous compost from a garden centre. I have also read that you can mix this with a loam based soil such as as John Inness 2. I am reading a lot on here that people are using small pine bark chips, grit and perlite mixed in to aid aeration and drainage. I have grit and perlite and can buy a few bags of pine bark so when I repot I can give them the best possible home. Does this sound like a good mix?

    Thanks everyone.

    Luke
     
  2. Acerholic

    Acerholic Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society

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    Hi Luke, regarding pots, I have always used pots that firstly don't bake the roots. Black plastic is Not ideal as they absorb heat. I know Amazing maples uses black pots but he is selling them on and uses the most economical pots. He might say differently as I am only assuming. It is worth messaging him. Space is another consideration, I have my 40 year old in a large plastic terracotta colour pot and it's always done well. It does have a lot of crocks in the bottom and I root prune every two years.
    Regarding compost to use. Firstly I am not an expert by any means and am constantly learning. I use peat, perlite, John Innes no 2 (young maples) and John Innes no 3 (older maples), horticultural grit and Mycorrhizal (for good root growth) .I have just recently obtained horticultural propogating pine bark to replace the pearlite. I am quite fastidious about ensuring really good drainage. My new maples I purchase each year are all repotted in October into my own growing medium.
    I also use pine bark to dress the surface of the pots. Just another note, in September I use Nemetodes to ensure no vine weevil attacks the following Spring. In March I use Nemetodes for slugs as the little blighters love the new shoots.
    Hope this has helped a bit. I'm certain others in the Maple Society have their own formulas!!
     
  3. ROEBUK

    ROEBUK Rising Contributor Maple Society

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    Luke to be honest we all have seen the videos and to be frank all of the huge plants/trees he sells will all be going to be sold mainly to landscapers/gardeners etc who will then plant them out into some ones front lawn, yes some will be kept in containers but very few i feel these will mainly be for the commercial market.

    I have a large Viridis in a 180 ltr pot and to be honest i wish i had left it in the ground it was done in 2015 and is now ready for taking out re pruning then re potting back, the later is the easy bit the hard part is getting the bloody thing out of the pot!!!!

    Will take three of us to try and remove (safely) without breaking the branches, dont forget there are plenty of companys in the US who just specialise in large ornamental Maples they have the staff and plant/machinery to do this, you and me and hundreds more of hobby enthusiasts dont.

    Have just recently sold all of my maples which are in pots over 40 ltr, these being 50,60,70,80 because to be honest they are just getting to heavy to be moved around, i am sixty two this year and not a spring chicken anymore, more of a well aged old rooster who is getting ready for the pot !! :) :)

    Added a pic of the viridis from a couple of years ago , this is going to be fun to move!!

    Please bear all this in mind when you start re potting start small and see how you go.
     

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  4. Luke’s Maples

    Luke’s Maples Active Member

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    Thanks Acerholic. I will look at alternatives to black. Did you get the Melcourt mature propagating pine bark? I will look at Mycorrhizal and Nemetodes. Thanks for that. Do you have any pics of your 40 yr old?
     
  5. Luke’s Maples

    Luke’s Maples Active Member

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    Hi Roebuk. That Viridis is beautiful. It’s worth the effort. Easy for me to say. That has definitely given me something to think about. It’s hard enough repotting trees a quarter of that size.. not to mention expensive. What kind of pots do you use?
     
  6. Luke’s Maples

    Luke’s Maples Active Member

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    Also please can I ask.. Is there any advantage of using peat over an Ericaceous compost?
     
  7. Acerholic

    Acerholic Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society

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    Morning Luke, Yes it is the Melcourt pine bark. Expensive with delivery but am very pleased with it. ROEBUK advised me re this. As far as peat v ericaceous, it's a personal thing really. I feel that peat is more acidic and mixed with John Inness no 3 which is quite claggy tbh, I can get away with longer in repotting. Will send a couple of photos this morning of my 40 year old.
     

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  8. Jaybee63

    Jaybee63 Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Perhaps a different take but I have nearly all of mine that are in containers planted in square terracotta planters, most of these wider than deep. They are all on a watering system, watered for 10 minutes on drip irrigation twice a day. If I remove from the pot, they will dry out between watering, but I don’t suffer any scorched leaves and don’t suffer long untypical growth, it really works, the terracotta means the mix dries out so they are watered often but never become soggy. Great root growth.
    The terracotta being porous dries the mix so you can’t overwater.
    This wouldn’t work with manual watering, it would require too much work.
    For the mix I use John Innes no 3 mixed 50/50 with sketcher composted bark, or pine bark, I’ve tried both.
     
  9. Luke’s Maples

    Luke’s Maples Active Member

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    Thanks Jaybee. I’m in the process of ordering some pine bark to mix in next time I repot. I’m also reading a lot about fertilizer and what kind to use. A lot of people use Osmocote but there are so many different kinds. Is it organic? Does that matter?
     
  10. Jaybee63

    Jaybee63 Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    When I’ve used pine bark, which I guess is my preference, the chunks are fairly large.
    When I root prune and repot, I find due to the larger pine chunks, 50 mm or so, it’s easy to unravel the roots, the mix just falls away and the roots unravel with ease.
    If you want quick non typical growth, this method won’t work, but if you want the short internode growth that many dwarfs are grown for, it works.
     
  11. Luke’s Maples

    Luke’s Maples Active Member

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    I’m in no rush to make it big. I’d much rather it be true to form. I’m just looking on the net now at Osmocote. The standard one is a 14-14-14. Does that sound like the right one? Acerholic also uses Rootgrow. This has Mycorrhizal fungi. There is a standard one and an Ericaceous version. Should I use this?
     
  12. Jaybee63

    Jaybee63 Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    68FD04FB-A110-4CAF-A10C-0E609545ACBC.jpeg B4B60E37-2CF2-4E2A-A46D-F694E28CA3EE.jpeg E834E085-4CD6-472D-B46A-6AE0CCCA7BD7.jpeg 5EE27697-0A8B-454F-841B-343AE861FF8B.jpeg 3E55ECBE-96A5-4055-8E13-77304C9FD8DE.jpeg I’ve used rootgrow in the past, but don’t bother now with container planting. I’m controlling the watering and feeding and haven’t seen much need or benefit.
    Open ground planting, I do use it.
    I’ve used Osmocote in the past, perhaps when second year in the pot, but again, if not pushing for growth, I don’t bother.
     
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  13. Jaybee63

    Jaybee63 Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    upload_2019-5-31_23-59-11.jpeg Here’s an old Little Princess in a Square terracotta pot on drip irrigation, I’ve got many grown the same way, you will see it works and there’s nothing wrong with the growth
     
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  14. emery

    emery Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Don't have time to comment much on soil, but I will say I've done experiments over several years to track maples with/without mycorrhizae (Rootgrow or others) and the results are unequivocal: much larger root mass with mycorrhizae. There is no natural symbiotic fungi in most potting soil, and certainly not in my soil-less mixture. So for years now I use mycorrhizae in all pots and also a bit for in ground plantings.

    Otherwise my goal with pots is to get trees out of them, so I don't have anything to say about the large pots that Charlie (Amazing) sells, except to note that he buys many of the plants from people moving house etc, already large, and moves them to a pot. As mentioned when they're resold I expect it's usually to go back into the ground again.
     
  15. Acerholic

    Acerholic Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society

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    I use the Ericaceous one on JM's.
    I do 'not' feed any of our young plants. I might give them a folier feed in the Spring if they look like they need it. I use GREEN24 Acer Japonicum/palmatum liquid plant food. You can order it on Amazon. It is a German product.
    Nice photos from Jaybee63. Goes to prove you don't need acres of land to grow lovely specimens. I also use a drip watering system when all my water butts are empty. I do use an outdoor water filter as my water authority uses a high dose of chlorine and using the filter gives my plants a good chance through the Summer months. The filter is not cheap and only lasts one year at best. But I have found its nothing to the cost of a collection of Japanese Maples.
     
  16. Jaybee63

    Jaybee63 Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    I do reckon it has a benefit and use if for in ground planting. With the pots I’m mixing 50/50 by volume with either composted bark or pine chunks. The bags are stored for a while and are usually full of Mycelium by the time I use them so the mix isn’t sterile, hence I’ve never felt the need to add rootgrow with containers.
    It’s good to hear you’ve done the research and can vouch for the benefits of Rootgrow or similar.
    Nearly all my potted maples end up being planted when at a certain size so yes, that’s the usual end goal.
     
  17. Jaybee63

    Jaybee63 Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    That pic was from a few years back, here’s one taken this morning
     

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  18. Acerholic

    Acerholic Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society

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    Lovely photo, perfect weather for us in Hampshire today. I Might have to mist my new young grafts tonight as its going to get hot. I have found that misting the leaves after the sun has gone down very beneficial, alongside a good watering routine to the roots.
     
  19. emery

    emery Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    @Jaybee63 that's really a gorgeous maple, thanks for sharing. I don't have 'Little Princess' but will certainly put it onto my wish list!

    One other thing about pots: I do strongly hold with wider-than-tall, when I've used tall pots they seem to get water logged. The other thing is to use maximum drainage pots and raise them up, or leave them on gravel. I have found that SBX pots are best, but you have to buy them in quantity -- I get mine from a co in Poland. They're pretty cheap but the black plastic really does heat up, you have to be careful on a day like today to keep the roots shaded. You can buy terracotta colored plastic pots which are better for the heat but I haven't seen them in SBX.
     
  20. Jaybee63

    Jaybee63 Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Thank you Emery.
    I wish I had your land, I have to keep most of mine to a size, so regular pruning.
    Little Princess also goes by the name of (taken this from the RHS)
    Acer palmatum 'Chiyo-hime'
    Japanese maple - ( syn Little Princess )
     
  21. emery

    emery Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Ah thanks. Noted. Esveld has it as Chiyo-hime, and another interesting hime: komachi-hime.

    Unfortunately the only Chiyo-hime they have is 150 cm for €115, perhaps not a bad deal but I've decided not to buy larger JMs from them, they seem to die once they get here, or die back at best. Still I'm sure I'll find it at some point.

    Actually I'm starting to have a lot of small spaces to fill between larger trees, so dwarfs are very practical. Looking to do some mass plantings of azaleas etc too, just don't have the budget for it right now!
     
  22. Jaybee63

    Jaybee63 Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    I love the dwarfs and either grow in pots or at the front of borders under larger Maples where I’ve removed the lower branches.
    I have Komachi Hime, it’s one of my favourites, stunning.
    Little princess is quite common.
    Some of my dwarfs are now a fair size, but they are very compact with a nice layered tiered look to them.
     
  23. Jaybee63

    Jaybee63 Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Here’s Komachi Hime
     

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  24. AlainK

    AlainK Rising Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society 10 Years

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    In Vertrees and Gregory, 'Mapi-no-machi hime' (p. 181) is said to be "considered as synonymous with 'Little Princess'", not listed in the 4th edition main section, but 'Little Princess' is mentioned on page 396, with three synonyms, 'Chiyo hime', 'Kiyo-hime', and 'Mapi-no-machi hime'.
    A bit confusing, although the first two names look like a different transcription of the Japanese name. ;-)
     
  25. Jaybee63

    Jaybee63 Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    I have seen both the first 2 names used. I have Kiyo-hime and it’s different to Little Princess, the leaves are not so tipped with red.
    But then again, different conditions produce different results, I have another Little Princess planted in the ground and it’s not so vibrant.
    My dwarfs tend to look better and grow more stunted with better true to form colours when planted in containers and mature.
     

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