Should I repot in fall or spring?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by xman, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. xman

    xman Active Member

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    I have a five gallon Shaina that I got this year, it is in one of those green plastic pots from Monrovia. It appears to be a little root bound but is very healthy. The soil it is in seems to be mostly compost based or atleast appears to be broken down quite a bit, so it tends to get soggy. I usually bareroot and repot my new trees in early spring before they leaf out. I get rid of all the old soil, straighten the roots, root prune if required when doing this.
    Last year I lost a exactly similar 5 gallon shaina, similar container, etc during the winter (it had major root rot when I repotted it in spring and did not leaf out), it had the same soggy compost soil and we had a wet winter. That said,

    1) Should I repot this tree this fall using soil with good drainage? or should I wait till spring?
    2) In case I can repot in fall, should I wait till it drops its leaves (will the temperatures be too low to repot)? or is now fine?
    3) Can I bareroot repot it now before it goes dormant? or can I bareroot it only after it goes dormant.
    4) Should I only remove part of the old soil and repot?

    thanks,
    xman
     
  2. alex66

    alex66 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    change the old soil because is possible that have insect or fungi into
    yes repot the tree in autum with good dreinage
    if your time is with no frost is well time
     
  3. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hi Xman,
    This is what I would do:

    Check the roots, if you think they are tightly bound and require some pulling apart to spread them to avoid the tree choking to death later in its life, then wait until dormancy. Otherwise, if you do not need to manipulate the roots, you can repot any time. Better now to give the roots time to get well installed and be better prepared for the Spring.

    Gomero
     
  4. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Hi Gomero,
    I was also wondering about fall potting. I repotted almost everything this past spring, with extensive root pruning. In the last few weeks i checked the roots and the pots were full but not bound, even 10-15 gals were very full. As an experiment i root pruned a few 1-3 gals, maybe taking 15/20%. With this group i will not touch the roots next spring. I wanted to learn if fall root pruning would add some momentum to spring growth. Any insights on this approach appreciated.

    Not exactly scientific because i also changed the soil mixture by incorporating about 15% biochar.

    thanks for your thoughts
     
  5. xman

    xman Active Member

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    An article that I found regarding fall repotting.
    http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/fallpot.htm

    I am repotting mine tomorrow morning. One thing I have noticed over the years of early spring repotting is that the trees do not put on as much spring growth the year they are repotted, as the subsequent years. This may be due to the fact that I bare root repot them? I am going to see how this one performs in spring, compared to the ones that I repot in early spring.

    xman
     
  6. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Thanks X, thats nice info. I have read those posts before and i guess i spaced on it. I agree it seems Spring repotting results in somewhat of a set back --that is the same reason i experimented. After re-reading the Brent Watson article i will try to give the fall pruned plants more winter protection.

    With my larger size pots 5-15 gal the difference in seasonal growth after root prunning is drastic.

    I enjoy reading the posts over there he offers lots of views contrary to mainstream practices/beliefs.
     
  7. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Recent research results ( Low temperature limits of root growth in deciduous and evergreen temperate tree species, P.Alvarez-Uria and C. Krner, Functional Ecology 2007) seem to pinpoint that the critical temperature for significant root growth is about 6C. Therefore as long as the temperature of the soil is above that roots will continue to grow whether you repot or not. If you repot in the Fall roots will grow in a larger volume with more nutrients available and thus will yield a healthier plant next Spring.

    Now for the cold damage, as hypothesized in the article by B.Walston (thanks Xman), I really cant tell. As I said above, roots will continue to grow even if you do not repot, so any potted maple will have some new roots as it enters Winter time; are these new roots damaged when the pot freezes over? ..I do not know.

    I always repot in the Fall, all the pots stay outdoors and freeze over (zone 8, down to -10C) and I cannot establish any correlation between the freeze and dead trees. But maybe I am just lucky ;-))

    Now PTB, if you do believe that freezing will damage new roots, then do not rootprune in the Fall since pruning will encourage an even larger number of new roots. Alternatively you can do it but keep the pots above the threshold temperature for damage.

    Gomero
     
  8. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Thanks Gomero,

    If you are having success potting in the fall with winter temps as low as 14F then i believe i will be OK. It drops to 0F here but i insulate and protect them when it drops below 20F. Also I pruned in late Sept and if the roots will be active until soil temps are about 43F that would give me 10-12 weeks to take advantage of.

    I've never noticed any connection between trees frozen solid and their demise either. Last year i pulled 8-10 1 gals out of storage and they were solidly frozen. They slacked out naturally in March and every one grew well.

    Appreciate the info.
     
  9. blake

    blake Active Member

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    I presume you've already re-potted and that's a good decision I think. (Though going all the way down to bareroots is unnecessary.) The weather is still fine for it in Dallas. The ground temperature stays sufficiently warm pretty much all winter because of all the sunshine. (And if you planted it in a pot then you can just move indoors should a winter front come through - or wrap the pot in a blanket/free cloth.)

    Those Monrovia Maples that have sat in DFW garden centers since the Spring are usually pretty rootbound by this time of year, not to mention they've usually been either under or over watered all season. It's best to give them a new home sooner rather than later.
     
  10. richardbeasley@comcast.net

    richardbeasley@comcast.net Active Member Maple Society

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    Re-pot when soil temps are below fifty degrees F, use sand to fill voids in potting medium and always insure great drainage. If the water sits on top of your mix it doesn't drain well enough. If soil/potting mix is below fifty there can be no active bacterial/fungal actions which could harm the tree, that is if you damage the roots on re-potting, and you will damage roots, it is a given. ( There are many good bacteria and fungi but some fungi are bad and some fungi kill or starve off the bad ones, it is a crazy world.)
     
  11. kaydye

    kaydye Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    This has been a really interesting post. When I first read it, I had no intention of repotting my maples until spring. I have noticed that setback upon replanting, so I decided to repot everything this fall. I got almost all of them done, there were a few I can use for test plants, see if I notice a difference spring/fall. I have a question about roots growing. Most of mine did not need any root pruning, so I was able to carefully pot them into the same pot or similar pot. Being in zone 5, however, mine are now in my garage for their winter sleep in darkness. Will the roots continue to grow, or would they have to be outside/get sunlight? The temp stays around 40-50 F., but can go to
    25 it it gets below zero.
    Kay
     
  12. richardbeasley@comcast.net

    richardbeasley@comcast.net Active Member Maple Society

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    I have alway thought it was common knowledge that the only thing that grew in the winter were the roots, I could be wrong. I am n zone 7b, and the soil stays just above freezing all winter and that being the case in the garage they should grow a wee bit. The sunshine would only warm the soil to allow for the roots to grow, but the growth would be insignificant. If the soil temperature is below freezing dare ain't nutten happening down there, dats for sure. Daddy's old mule whispered dat in my ear when I was just a wee bit of a thing.
     
  13. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Re: Should I repot in fall or spring? UPDATE

    So far this spring my trees look better than ever. I definitely feel that fall root pruning is a good cultural practice based on the outcomes so far. Z7

    'Osakazuki' and my other larger trees are glowing with buds. It's an amazing spring for me.


    This 'Katsura' opened every bud and pushed about 8" so far.
     

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  14. richardbeasley@comcast.net

    richardbeasley@comcast.net Active Member Maple Society

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    Are you pruning the roots when the soil is biologically active or are you waiting until the soil is below 10 degrees when it is not bio. active? I repotted when the soil was so cold I thought I might lose a few fingers, but I felt the tree was more protected of pathogens that way.
     
  15. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Active.

    Soil temps were probably around 50-55F when I pruned. I would estimate that soil temps didn't drop below 40F until approx 8 weeks afterwards.
     
  16. Nicola

    Nicola Member

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    When you refer to potting on into 5-15 gals, do you mean gallons? In England a 1 gallon pot would be 4.5 litres which would make a 15 gallon pot enormous. Is this right and if it is how on earth do you move these pots around;-)

    Nicola
     
  17. richardbeasley@comcast.net

    richardbeasley@comcast.net Active Member Maple Society

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    Yea that's right, the five gallon pots takes a lot of potting mix to fill em up, and the fifteen gallon pots need dollies to tote them around. I don't like the trade pots because they don't have much surface area it is all depth. I wish we did have our pots in liters, because as you noted they get big real fast when they use gallons as there basic unit.
     
  18. xman

    xman Active Member

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    Hi,

    I am getting ready to repot some of my trees that are due after 3 years. The trees are just starting to show fall colors, and the temps here in TX is still 80's F during day and 68 F during nights.
    Can I repot them as soon as they drop their leaves? are they "dormant" as soon as the leaves drop off? or should I wait a week or two after the leaves drop?
    It is november already and my trees all still have all their leaves. Usually my trees will scorch badly and drop all thier leaves in october, but for the last two years they seem to have adjusted to the TX heat and retain all their leaves with minimal scorch.

    thanks,
    xman
     
  19. nelran

    nelran Active Member

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    You're a lucky guy, Xman!

    congrats

    Nelran
     
  20. alex66

    alex66 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    if the leaves have autum color,is good time for re -pot better in afternoon...
    ciao
     
  21. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    X,

    What do your roots look like after 3 years in a pot? It's been my goal to devise a potting media that will hold up for more than 2 years but so far no luck. Even my 15 gal pots are full, really full after 2 years and that is following aggressive root pruning.

    I agree with Alex, prune when trees are colored up or just after.
     
  22. xman

    xman Active Member

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    PtB,

    Have not gotten around to repotting yet, still waiting for the fall colors to kick in. The smart pots appear to be filled with roots though, some of the roots have come out through the fabric of the pots.

    xman
     
  23. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    X,

    Whoa, they penetrated the smart pot! When you root prune and pot up could you take a few pics?

    I have just 2 plants in smart pots and it's year one for both. One is Pinus bungeana and it can definitively stay there a while longer the other though is 'Hanami nishiki' I might lift it out and take a look soon.
     
  24. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Smart pots? I've seen them mentioned before and wondered about them. Are those smart pots the same thing as "root control bags"? I found a website that sells them both, it looks like the smart pots are basically root control bags with handles?

    I try to avoid buying trees in root control bags. My experiences trying to get the trees out of them have been horrific. But since I tend to buy sale plants, that may have to do with the trees being overdue for potting up or putting in the ground. But in my experience, trying to get the fabric off the roots is a nightmare. I tried cutting the roots with a box knife, but what if the roots are too big (often the case) for that? And if they're too big for a box knife, I'd prefer to fluff them out rather than cut them. So I tried cutting the bag, but that fabric is really tough (which is the point of the bag). So my trees out of root bags ended up with large roots near to the actual tree being cut with shears and also with bits of fabric root control bags still on them that I never could get off. And by the time I got to the point I could put the tree in the ground, I usually had lost most of my valuable little roots. Honestly, I'd rather deal with circled roots. I can unwind a circle and then be able to cut not as close to the actual tree. And I'll have more feeder roots at the end of the job. Not that circled roots are my first choice.
     
  25. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Regarding timing, I think I've missed my fall window as my new Aratama bonsai acquisition (which is very due for root pruning) if leafless. So now when?

    I'm confused. I thought I was supposed to trim the tree at the same time as the roots so the above ground mass and the below ground mass stayed similar. And I thought I was supposed to make large cuts only while the tree was active so that it could heal itself?
     

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