I've become obsessed with drainage for my JMs and this spring repotted everything with an approximation of Al's mix of pine bark, grit, and turface. Everything was going fine until one day I wandered over to one of the plants (Baldsmith) that was new last fall and I have yet to see in full leaf, as it was shipped late in the season last year. I had tucked it in semi-shade and it was a bit out of my normal paths so I had failed to check it regularly. I found half of the opening leaves drooping and some even dead. I thought, what the heck? and checked the pot...oh. I had failed to water often enough. I brought the pot back where I would remember it, and it is now clear I've lost quite a few leaves. Hoping it will recover anyway. Moral of story is, you've got to pay attention, and the better the drainage, the more attention you should pay.
The west coast potting mix bible is ok if you have a watering system drip irrigation or such but for most of us it is a bit too much .. there is a fine line between good and bad draining mixtures and you always want to err on the side of good but I have found adding a bit of potting soil will not adversely effect drainage and will allow you to keep your tree looking good without compulsive obsessive watering... Keeping trees watered with that west coast brew is just too much and if you miss a couple hot sunny days days you will be pulling off the leaves in short order ... With that mixture in hot sunny weather you sometime have to water every other day with a bit of potting soil once or twice a week. I don't personally subscribe to the no potting soil method or the no peat phobia.. but I do think it should be no more than 1/4 - 1/3 of the mix for potting soil and les than 1/4 for peat.
Sometimes it looks like you have a watering problem but it ain't or in Bills case a late leafing tree with either it's often just a systemic problem with the plant .. usually a root or soil disease... Late leafing trees is usually the result of root damage from winter or a tree kept inside that maybe stayed too wet over winter.. if it ain't leafed out by now it probably won't happen or will do so with just a couple branches and likely die next year since it can't make enough food to sustain itself over the winter .. basically a tree in decline ..., If the leaves come out and then wilt and the soil is wet your tree its likely toast it is a root or bark problem ..
do you think i should re-pot the beni hime and check out the roots? i only watered the trees inside once a month or so and this one got the same attention as the others and they are fine - i will say that i thought it was leafing out like all the others in the garage earlier this spring.
For Bill .. I don't think you will know much from the roots they will look well like roots ;>) maybe eventually you can tell if a root is dead I sure couldn't tell this early .. I watered mine maybe once or twice all winter period ... the ones in the dark shed had several smaller ones die I think even that was too much for them .. the only ones that bit the dust in heated cold frames were some early budding Japonicum ones that started coming out during a sunny warmer spell in Dec. they would have done better in the shed spell. Beni hime is a notoriously super cool but dicey tree.. I would say it was just too mwet but that is a guess
Baldsmith is anouther touchy tree at least for me .. others may have more luck .. the Watnong which is similar but much cooler (IMHO) than old Baldie seems to be much more of a easier tree to take care of and less susceptible to various miladies
well i re-potted the beni hime and while doing so did see many new leaf shots starting - got rid of all the old dirt and replaced with new - this is a awesome little tree and hoping it makes it - here is it last fall