Some beginner Japanese Maple Questions!

Discussion in 'Maples' started by caffebreve, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. caffebreve

    caffebreve New Member

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    Hello, I'm just starting to delve into the world of container Japanese Maples, and my 1st year Corallinum graft has just arrived in the mail. After some research, I have potted it in a "gritty mix" of chicken grit, sphagnum moss and varying sizes of pine nuggets:

    ss+(2015-06-22+at+02.08.52).jpg ss+(2015-06-22+at+11.57.49).png

    I am a little worried about the mix, as it seems awfully loose--should I be adding more organic matter such as top soil? I had some mixed in there initially but it seems to have just settled to the bottom of the pot after I tried running water through it, creating a muddy sludge that was actually trapping water inside the pot, so I created a second batch of only the loose materials based on another JM owner's posting. The general advice seems to be that Corallinums, and Japanese Maples as a whole do not like to sit in wet soil and the loose mix allows the roots to breathe and spread out, but the consistency of it reminds me of just plain old pine mulch and I do wonder if the JM is going to be able to absorb the water and nutrients it needs. Any help on this will be much appreciated!

    Secondly, when I removed the JM from its nursery container, the root hair system seems to be holding on to the dirt in the container pretty vigorously--it's in essence a dense-ish block of roots and dirt. Based on what I've read here and elsewhere on the internet, it seems like prying the roots free to prevent the tree from becoming root bound is recommended, however, I'm wary of damaging the root system and further stressing the JM after its journey through the postal system, so right now I've just sunken the whole block, roots and dirt and all, into the loose pine/moss/grit mix. Should I just bite the bullet and try to pull the roots free?

    My last question regards some dryness in the leaves:
    ss+(2015-06-22+at+02.08.39).png ss+(2015-06-22+at+01.31.06).png
    It appears that there is a faint white edging on some of the leaves (more visible in the second photo above,) along with a few dried out spots. Some preliminary internet research suggests that this might be just stress. The stems on the leaves look pretty rosy and healthy, although the leaves themselves feel a little--for the lack of a better word, papery, not totally dried out, but definitely thinner and fragiler than what I imagine new spring leaves should feel like. Do these leaves look alright to more experienced eyes?

    Thank you for any advice you can offer! I love this little guy already even though it's a little scruffy from the trip here and I just want to do anything I can to make sure it thrives!
     
  2. caffebreve

    caffebreve New Member

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    My apologies for accidentally posting this twice! If a moderator can assist in removing the duplicate post, it would be much appreciated.
     
  3. patdero1

    patdero1 Active Member Maple Society

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    Pine bark mulch instead of nuggets would be better. I use 60/20/20 mix. Pine mulch/perlite/peat moss. It work nice and is not loose. As far as your leaves drying out. Most nurseries have small grafted maples in shaded cover. Try to have yours in semi shaded area for the first year. Good luck
    Pat
     
  4. maplesmagpie

    maplesmagpie Active Member

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    When you pulled it out, did it look more like a block of roots or a block of dirt held together with faintly visible roots? I've planted a lot of young grafts, and they're usually the latter. When they're like that I plant them as they are-- I don't think something with such fine roots so spread apart are going to cause issues. Like you, I don't fancy the idea of ripping into a small tree's delicate system of fine roots and root hairs.

    Where did you order it? I love Corallinum, and my first one was zapped by cold. It's coming back, but it will take a long time to reach that size. I'm tempted to buy another...
     
  5. caffebreve

    caffebreve New Member

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    Pat--Thanks for the advice! I'll head to the local garden center and pick up some pine bark mulch and mix up a new batch! I've been keeping the JM in a shaded area on my patio since it arrived, and I'll make sure to continue to do so! Does this indeed mean that the damage on the leaves looks like stress/heat scorch to your more experienced eyes?

    Maplesmagpie--I will check the root "block" again after work, when I repot in the mulch mixture as recommended by Pat above, but my memory says that it's likely the "block of dirt held by small fine roots" that you described--definitely mostly dark soily matter. I will leave it alone for now! Hopefully the new potting mixture will also help assuage my fear that it's just a dense chunk of roots sitting in a pile of wood chips :)

    I see that you are also in Wisconsin 5b--could I trouble you to share your watering schedule for Corallinums? I've read "let soil dry out between waterings" and "make sure soil is moist at all times," so I'm a little confounded... I don't want to kill it with wet feet, but I also want to make sure the poor thing's getting the water it needs...

    I ordered my Corallinum from Herter Nursery through an Amazon posting. Not much information on their website (it appears to be under construction) but I can say that the maple was very carefully wrapped and shipped. From some of the comments on Amazon's tree section I was pretty much expecting a dead stick in a burlap bag with a dried leaf on top, so maybe that doesn't say much, haha!
     
  6. maplesmagpie

    maplesmagpie Active Member

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    Thanks for sharing your source! I got mine from Acer1987 on ebay. I'm not sure if you've read my other threads on Corallinum, though... seems like there are a lot of cultivars floating around with that name...another one I ordered, not from Acer1987, is really a Seigen or Seigai.

    My true-form Corallinum was planted in the ground, in a sunny area so it would get full color and also dry out between waterings. We have some clay in our soil, so I wanted to be sure it was in an area that would dry.

    I was nervous about it the first year, but honestly I didn't notice that it was all that different from other A.p. cultivars. I would do the finger-poke soil test. If I poked my finger down into the soil under the cedar mulch and felt it was damp/cool, I'd leave it. If it felt dry or warm, I'd water it. By its second year I didn't water it until we were going through a dry stretch, then I'd water and do the soil test until we had rain again.

    Hope that helps!
     
  7. Jaybee63

    Jaybee63 Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    I always strip all or most of the nursery compost and trim spiralling or girdling roots, you an be harsh with the trimming but I wouldn't do this until late winter or you will loose the leaves or worst still the tree.
    As everyone else will tell you the mix needs to be very free draining and loose and open.
    I've never lost a maple with root pruning.

    John
     
  8. caffebreve

    caffebreve New Member

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    Maplesmagpie--thank you for sharing your watering schedule! Hope you find an answer to your cultivar mystery!

    John--I'll leave the root pruning until the winter then! I'll keep a close eye on the drainage to make sure the water's running through even after everything shifts and settles. Thank you for your advice.


    I do have another question about my tree's leaves for the forum. In the description for Corallinum, the leaves are described to be pink/red when they first open in Spring, then turning green in summer. As you can see from my photos above, the majority of my tree's leaves are still red, with only a few smaller leaves showing some light green veining. Does this mean that I might not have a true Corallinum, or is the tree just taking its time settling in?

    Additionally, I've read some threads here describing cultivars such as Shindeshojo as a "Corallinum-type," does this imply that "Corallinum" is a descriptor for a class of cultivars, or is it a cultivar in and of itself?
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2015
  9. maplesmagpie

    maplesmagpie Active Member

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    More and more, I'm thinking there are probably about 5 or 6 cultivars, possibly many more, being sold as Corallinum. It's a very murky pool. It's almost as if people have given the label "Corallinum" to every JM that behaves in a certain way: bright pink spring leaves, shrubby growth, smaller leaves, etc.

    It's hard to know, based on Vertrees' description, if yours is the "true" Corallinum-- the leaves don't have quite the shape or pucker ("crinkling" as described in the book). The lobes seem very deeply divided, and bulged slightly as well. ?? One difficulty is that Vertrees does not give a leaf close-up of the large Corallinum he shows in his book. I have two "Corallinum," one of which I'm almost sure is not true, and neither look like yours.

    Frustrating or entertaining, I'm not sure, but there we are.

    ....as for the color of your leaves, it's new from the nursery and probably very difficult to know how it was grown or how it will behave. My Acer 1987 Corallinum partially keeps its spring color almost all summer if planted in the sun, but my other Corallinum (Seigen?) is a dark green in the sun once the spring color fades.
     
  10. maplesmagpie

    maplesmagpie Active Member

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    This is helpful, and something I never thought to do... I did an online search for more photos of the Corallinum Vertrees describes at the Hillier Gardens and Arboretum in Hampshire, England. There are several photos online. Based on this, I'd say yours looks more like the "Vertrees Corallinum" than either of mine, at least with leaf shape. Not sure about you red summer coloring, but again-- that may change

    Photo source: http://jcra.ncsu.edu/resources/phot...p?query=All_Plant_Names_Serials&search=100151
     

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  11. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Caffe,

    I have found potted Japanese Maples to be relatively easy if you do two things - first is to keep them from getting soggy, which means no clay/heavy soil or swampy conditions. I use Miracle Grow Organic potting soil. Used to use expensive stuff but our local nursery went out of business and the only thing left in my small town is a Lowes. Never had a problem with it.

    Second - pay attention to winter temperatures. JM roots are killed at 15 degrees and under. Although I'm in a warmer climate than you, the past two winters we saw temps in the single digits. I lost 1/2 dozen potted JMs and about 100 new grafts because I didn't protect the roots. In your climate, this will probably be really important.

    Other than that - maples are a joy! Most are very forgiving, and will grow happily in pots for years, even when neglected.

    Oh, and my favorite supplier and one you should check out is Topiary Gardens. They're in upstate New York, so their maples are acclimated to a cold climate. Nice plants too!

    Best

    K4
     
  12. caffebreve

    caffebreve New Member

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    Maplesmagpie--how interesting! It does seem like the shape of my leaves resemble the photos you attached, but the red leaves remain a mystery...over the last few days the green does seem to have become more prominent in the smaller leaves that were exhibiting the green veining, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed as the green leaves in the summer was a factor in my deciding on a corallinum!

    K4: Thank you for your advice! I'm looking into borrowing a friend's unheated garage this winter, in addition to winterproofing with protective insulation, to hopefully give my JM a little bit of a helping hand (fortunately it's still small enough to easily carry around with the planter so moving it won't be a huge undertaking) so the hope is that it will last through our cold winters. The last week has already been fascinating observing my little graft's minute color and leaf consistency changes as it (hopefully) acclimated to my patio and new planter--it's almost like a science experiment! I'm hoping that this little guy will grow strong and beautifully for many years. Also, thank you for the supplier suggestion, I'll make sure to check them out for any additional JMs I decide to acquire!
     

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