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Japanese Maples: pot size for JM's?

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Forum: Japanese MaplesReplies: 32, Views: 209
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markblanchard13
Camp Hill, PA

June 8, 2010
7:17 PM

Post #7871208

Hey all,
I'll be receiving my first 2 JM's next week, and I'd like to keep them in pots in my zone 6b back yard, with occasional stints on the 2nd floor porch display. (NOT looking forward to lugging it up a flight of stairs with my Chocolate Lab "Mousse" constantly underfoot...but I think it will be worth it!)

Is there a "rule of thumb" for the size of the pot to height of the tree?

I got a 'Katsura' (6'-8' tall 4'-6' wide), and a 'Kamagata' (3' tall, round and bushy wide[?])
They are 2 year grafts, 12-18" tall. They will be kept in my back yard which faces SSE, and gets alot of morning sun (9-10 am to 3-4 pm, ) and shade from the house and a mature tree thereafter. They will probably get a bit more sun in the winter, when the sun is lower on the horison I plan to "plant" the pots and mulch in winter.

I'll probably eventually prune the Katsura to keep it around 4-5 feet (if necessary), and will probably just let the Kamagata do its thing, as it's only supposed to get to 3 feet high.

Any tips tricks, and info will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Mark
Davidsan
Springfield, IL
(Zone 6a)

June 9, 2010
7:41 AM

Post #7872173

Firstly I wouldn't leave anything that small out the first winter even planted un potted or potted it is just two small .. a two year graft usually means a graft in it's second year I consider them actually one year grafts not two I think it is unethical to sell a tree that has been alive only one full year and one full growing season as a two.. A two year graft is so at the biginning of it's third year .. TWO full years of growth .trees like yours that have likely just begun their second year are considered mow 1 gallon size they are usually moved to a 1 gallon pot the the fall of first year or spring of second .. a one gal tree is usually small SMALL!! . They would be considered 1 gallon size NOT two ..Pots come in growers size and actual size most will be growers which are less than stated ( 3 quarts not 4!!)..

I would say pot them up no larger than two gallon if you do not want to repot right away but no smaller than one gallon which is the size you are getting Max ... Davidsdan
killdawabbit
Christiana, TN
(Zone 6b)

June 9, 2010
8:30 AM

Post #7872355

I will have to disagree with you, myers. I think it would be perfectly safe to plant now. I do it all the time. I am pretty much in the same zone as Mark.
I do put a small cage made of garden fencing around them. My username should tell you why. :-)
My recommendation: Unless the root ball is really tiny pot them in a 2 gallon size. Or any pot app. 9" x 11". If you use tapla's soil mix you very possibly could have trees twice as tall as they are now by the end of summer. Then go ahead and plant in the fall.
If you are afraid to take my advice I sure wouldn't blame you.
Davidsan
Springfield, IL
(Zone 6a)

June 9, 2010
9:08 AM

Post #7872483

Zones mean little and can change from town to town place to place zig zag and there are two zone charts .. it is a BAD idea to base anything on zones!! you are much farther south than he is period .I am zone 6 a and it was -17 below last winter. anyone other than in the deep south is taking a chance plating out any tree that small in pot or in ground and Katsura is a very early budding not super hardy tree adding a extra layer of danger.. they are definitely safer dug into ground than in a pot than left out exposed but that is just protection from the tiny root system it does nothing for the tender top. But why bother ?? we are talkin about TWO small potted jms.. no bigt deal to bring in the garage and be safe and they7 ain't gonna be much to look at in the winter thats for sure!! and as they get big that burying is gonna be a chore!!. this past winter is a good example it was really bad for allot of folks .. The thing everyone should remember just because one person has success with risky methods doesn't mean another will .. why bother take the safe route everyone has differnt opinions and experiences .. take the worst case sceneo and run with it . Same thing with soil mix yes his mix is great but many others are just as good and much less hassle .. how much time do you want to spend screening fines ... how much better is it .. a well draining mix that doesn't dry out too quickly but doesn't stay wet is best for me .. I add potting soil to my mix ( a big no no to the Jm elite .. that way I don't have to water every other day ... but others will have differnt ideas there is no set way to grow JMs!!! my attitutude is to grow them in the easiest and safest manner on all levels.. For most of us that is acceptable .. but for other bonsai/ persnikety type person with lots of time and $$ and enjoy minutia they should go the other route .. it may suit them better I personally am not .. Davidsan
killdawabbit
Christiana, TN
(Zone 6b)

June 9, 2010
9:44 AM

Post #7872573

I don't have to spend time screening pine fines. I buy them at Lowe's in a 2 cu. ft. bag for about 4.00.
GardenSox
Sacramento, CA
(Zone 9a)

June 9, 2010
10:10 AM

Post #7872661

Killdawabbit - I think the amount of effort you have to put forth to create Al's container mix depends on where you live. In certain parts of the country people have a really difficult time finding the right size and/or type of fines that Al talks about in his mix so people have to buy bigger and screen them.

Mark - do you have an unheated garage or shed that you could store your JMs in over the winter? I'm with David on the better safe than sorry advice in this case. With trees that small it seems like it would be pretty easy just to move them in for the first couple winters.

How about a picture of Mousse? ^_^
wha
Pepperell, MA
(Zone 6a)

June 9, 2010
1:32 PM

Post #7873294

i agree with davidsan - they are so small why bother taking a chance? I am also in 6a and bring all my potted jm's in - simply not worth taking a chance - and most of mine are much larger - besides it is kinda nice to pull into the garage and see them over the winter.
markblanchard13
Camp Hill, PA

June 9, 2010
3:59 PM

Post #7873649

Myersphcf, I agree about the sale of such trees...to and extent. The problem is that as trees get older and larger they get more expensive to buy and to ship, prohibitively expensive in my case.
There isn't much in the way of selection in my area. Most places have a few Bloodgoods, and a few of the very fine lace leafs for $150-$250. By buying smaller trees I can afford to get one or two a year, instead of looking at all the beautiful pics and thinking "I wish I could afford one".

I can assure you that have the brain capacity to find out how to PROPERLY care for them BEFORE I've bought 13 of them and BEFORE they're too far gone to save, then post a "I NEED HELP NOW" post. (by reading all that can from experienced people, such as y'uns)


Killdawabbit, I think you misunderstood, I'm not planting them in the ground, I'll be keeping them in pots, and planting the entire pot in the ground just to overwinter. Thanks for the pot size info, and yes, not only have I read up on Tapla's soil mix, I was able to find ALL the ingredients at my local Agway, about 2 miles from my house. I have begun experimenting!

On the soil mix argument, I feel there is no 100% right, your plants will die in 10 minutes if you don't... There is more than one way to skin a cat, (or wabbit for that matter...BTW, I love the moniker!...A little Buggs Bunny humor there!). The addition of a little more or less of an ingredient, (what are we talking 1/5 to 1/8 of the total material?) screened or not will not mean life or death. Besides, I don't mind the screening at all, it's good "meditation" work, like weeding.

I know not to plant them in 100% Miracle Grow, Sta-Green or whatever ad campaign in a bag that the big(gest profit) box stores like to push. Garden plants are one thing, trees are another!


Gardensox/Wha, I have an unheated shed, and a garage that stays around 40-45 f in the coldest parts of the winter. I could keep them in the uheated area.
I'm thinking if an extended below zero snap is expected, I could move them into the 42.5 f garage.

Do they require light while they are in the garage/shed? I already have lights and timer (that I use for seed starting) to use if necessary.

What about pot size when they are 3-5 feet?
markblanchard13
Camp Hill, PA

June 9, 2010
4:22 PM

Post #7873712

Oh, BTW Here you go GardenSox

http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb146/markblanchard13/Mousse_4-09.jpg

How do you post a pic instead of a link in here anyway?
killdawabbit
Christiana, TN
(Zone 6b)

June 9, 2010
4:25 PM

Post #7873727

Mark, thanks. I misunderstood. However I have had a JM in a large pot ouside for 7 or 8 years now and don't put it in the ground in the winter. I just leave it where it is with no special protection.
I don't know if I'm misunderstanding you again but the pine fines make up about 5/7 of the mix. I don't go exactly by his standard recipe. I use a ration of 4:1:1 bark fines, moss and perlite with the addition of Osmocote and gypsum. All I will say is I have never grown plants as well as I am now. I may be wrong but I believe it has to do with aeration. My previous mix was 1:1:1. I believe it was too much moss in relation to the others. And maybe the gypsum makes a difference. I never had a calcium source added to my mix.
markblanchard13
Camp Hill, PA

June 9, 2010
5:14 PM

Post #7873831

Interesting killthewabbit, You must have it in a well sheltered spot. On the side of my house, the winter winds blow through quite strongly. Where I plan to keep them is in the back, up against the house (which acts as a wind screen) and actually gets more sun when the sun is low on the horizon.

I have grown zone 7 and even zone 8 perennials there. I believe it's called a "micro-climate". Still, as they are my first Jm "children"... they will be doted upon, and no chances will be taken!

I was refering to using a 4;1;1 mix as opposed to a 5;1;1 and the like.
Anyhoo, the crux of my post was the pot size, not soil mix. You say you've had one in a pot for 7 or 8 years in a "large" pot. Do you know the measurement? or could you be able to measure it at your convenience? whats the mix, and how often do you water?

Dad used to yell at us for putting eggshells in the trash. They go into the compost pile!

Thanx,
Mark

wha
Pepperell, MA
(Zone 6a)

June 9, 2010
5:35 PM

Post #7873899

Mark sounds like you have done your home work on the mix - i use a simple pre-mix for container plants from coast of maine and based on the growth of the root systems of some i've had to move into larger pots they love it - it also retains some moisture which is fine as i do not want to water them constantly.

i have pot planted some to over winter and found it dicey with young trees - i've lost a couple and always had die back on the branches - that does not happen when you bring them into an unheated garage - mine go there and are fine - no need for lights and only water them lightly a couple times over the winter.

check out davidsansmaples.com and you may find you can get larger trees at reasonable prices.

Bill
Davidsan
Springfield, IL
(Zone 6a)

June 9, 2010
6:08 PM

Post #7873982

I don't think Peat ( moss) is used by many jm growers it tends to be not be a good additive dries out too fast and doesn't allow for easy watering.. I do use a little pro mix brk that has a little peat in it but not much... Around here you cant find pine fines so that's just not doable for many not just myself .. and is unnecessary IMHO... any pine bark mixture will do . add a little hardwood black forest mulch from Lowes and you are good to go .. Pearlite has one problem and it's in it's name LITE''' it is not a great aerator period, it is just too fluffy does little .. most west coast growers use pumice ... but since again that is not avail here turkey grit is much easier to get and very cheapo and a bit heavier .. keeping your pots a bit heavier will help you from having to mess with them after every wind over 25mph.. and gives more substance ... and as I said before adding a little potting soil or tree planting mix will keep you from daily watering in mid summer without keeping the roots wet bound .. there are many good mixes out there experimentation and using what is available is recommended and necessary. Jms are really only as hard to grow as you make them .. there are many does and don'ts but there is allot of wiggle room in the so called right ways to do things ...I certainly don't poo poo those who spend hours on a mix or fiddle with their trees like they are their children.. but for most folks that is just too much time and effort . It really does Jms an injustice since it scares folks away from buying them by emphasizing unnecessarily way too much about the minutia of Jm care and cultivation .. Jms should be seen as a fairly easy tree to grow in the ground or container in most areas and not something that an average skilled gardener can't easily handle .. It is only rocket science if you make it that way they are only as hard to grow as you make them in your mind and actions. Davidsan

This message was edited Jun 9, 2010 7:43 PM
killdawabbit
Christiana, TN
(Zone 6b)

June 9, 2010
6:13 PM

Post #7874002

My tree isn't sheltered. The pot is 20" d x 18" h. I don't remember the exact mix from that long ago.
I sure can't blame you for not taking chances.
killdawabbit
Christiana, TN
(Zone 6b)

June 9, 2010
6:16 PM

Post #7874012

Oops...I forgot. I water when the surface of the soil looks dry. In the summer that's usually every day.
GardenSox
Sacramento, CA
(Zone 9a)

June 9, 2010
11:02 PM

Post #7874871

That's a handsome looking dog you've got there, Mark.

To post a picture you just hit the browse button (on Internet Explorer) below the text box where you post your message. That'll open up your files and you just need to find where you picture is stored and double click on it.
davesnursery
Milford, DE

June 10, 2010
3:36 AM

Post #7874992

Acer japonica 'Green Cascade'. My father grafted this plant and it has been in the pot for nearly 40 years and stays outside 24/7. I bump the containers up 1 size every 5 years. In march every so often, just before bud brake I will take the plant out of the container and wash out the soil until bare root, trim some roots and put back in the same pot for a couple of more additional years. Look closely at the soil line and you will see how the root has lifted right out of the pot. Bonsai growers just love the look. The container in the picture is a 20 gallon.

Dave

This message was edited Jun 10, 2010 5:42 AM

This message was edited Jun 10, 2010 5:44 AM

Thumbnail by davesnursery
Click the image for an enlarged view.

killdawabbit
Christiana, TN
(Zone 6b)

June 10, 2010
3:42 AM

Post #7874999

Beautiful maple davesnursery. I am glad to know they can go that long in pots. I think that bonsai technique is key. Washing and pruning the roots and then repotting. I plan to do that with mine at the proper time. I've forgotten when that is. I'll have to reread tapla's thread.
markblanchard13
Camp Hill, PA

June 10, 2010
4:25 AM

Post #7875044

Thanks Wha, I'll do the garage thing then. Sounds a hell of a lot easier too!

Thanks Gardensox, She is a pretty girl, but she's dumber than a sack of hammers!
I read on the FAQ's that you must upload from hard drive, but for some reason that causes my Firefox to crash.

Davesnursery, That is a beautiful tree!. Thanks for the pic! That is exactly what I'm looking for in and end result for mine.

davesnursery
Milford, DE

June 10, 2010
5:29 AM

Post #7875151

Just took these pictures of 'Green Cascade' I trimmed off the lower brancers giving a lift to the plant and to show off the trunk structure along with the root structure.

Dave

Thumbnail by davesnursery
Click the image for an enlarged view.

davesnursery
Milford, DE

June 10, 2010
5:30 AM

Post #7875156

Here is a closer picture of the root itself.

Dave

Thumbnail by davesnursery
Click the image for an enlarged view.

davesnursery
Milford, DE

June 10, 2010
5:34 AM

Post #7875167

This is a picture of Acer palmatum "Royal or Royale". I grafted this in 1994. The plant is in a 45 gallon container and was dug out of the ground with 2" growth on it. The plant had all of the soil removed from the roots prior to potting. The only problem this plant had was with a late frost that crisped the leaves a little but the plant remains in a happy state.

Dave

Thumbnail by davesnursery
Click the image for an enlarged view.

davesnursery
Milford, DE

June 10, 2010
5:38 AM

Post #7875181

One more picture of 3 plants. Pinus mugo 'Gnome', Acer dissectum 'Red Dragon', and again the Acer palmatum 'Royal'.

The 'Gnome' is in a 20 gallon container and is approx. 40 years old. The 'Red Dragon' is in a 45 gallon container and approx. 20 years old. The 'Red Dragon' went through the soil washing last year. I sold 3 of them this year and had to actually cut the roots from the bottom of the pot to release them from the ground.

Dave

Thumbnail by davesnursery
Click the image for an enlarged view.

wha
Pepperell, MA
(Zone 6a)

June 10, 2010
5:45 AM

Post #7875197

dave great trees - that green cascade is beautiful!

and you just saved my a couple dollars too - i have two smaller jm's i have had pot planted in the back waiting for them to grow up a bit - wanted to put them in a nice container - i have a couple reddish plastic garden containers from buying something that i think will look fine.

and mark these will over winter outside as they have done fine outside over the last two years - a Corallinium and a Beni Shichihenge which were next to dead at one point and since i have a second of each of these trees planted in the ground and with not much hope they would survive i just ignored them - they happily proved me wrong - now to force that bonsia look:)
killdawabbit
Christiana, TN
(Zone 6b)

June 10, 2010
6:10 AM

Post #7875255

Dave, those are spectacular trees! When would be a good time to repot my JM? I believe its last repotting was about 3 or 4 years ago. It is about 6 feet tall with about the same spread. This one I would like to keep potted forever. It is sitting next to my front porch in an area that would be very difficult to plant.
davesnursery
Milford, DE

June 10, 2010
6:49 AM

Post #7875372

I do not have a time frame for re-potting plants. It has been my experience that re-potting plants from pot to pot can take place any time of the year as long as the roots are not severly damaged. Some people like to ruff up the roots to keep them from girdling the plant. Sometimes I do this and sometimes I do not. Now if you are going to remove a plant from the ground I would recommend doing it 2 weeks before bud brake. Maybe sometime around mid March. This is depending on what part of the country you are from and the time frame of Winter/Spring ending and beginning. Digging early enough will allow the plant time to re-root before the heat of the summer begins and the plant will not even know it has been moved. Now some plants will not tolerate being bare rooted or digging at all but I have not come upon a plant that can't be re-potted.

Dave
davesnursery
Milford, DE

June 10, 2010
8:00 AM

Post #7875569

One more picture of Green Cascade. Closeup of the root.

Dave

Thumbnail by davesnursery
Click the image for an enlarged view.

markblanchard13
Camp Hill, PA

June 10, 2010
3:39 PM

Post #7876789

Dave, Wow! top shelf! thanks for the pics!
Davidsan
Springfield, IL
(Zone 6a)

June 10, 2010
3:51 PM

Post #7876811

One thing both Dave and I are aware of is that soil mixes from the west coast are often not best for other places .. In my case the trees that I lost to a very mild winter were the majority from a very uninsulated the full bark west coast blend .. not Al's which is even less insulative ... These loose mixtures do not give allot of insulation to the roots .. I lost 15 LARGE 10-15 gallon trees .. so if you guys want to chance that outcome... go for it .. I certainly won't ... And remember most nurseries on the west coast that left trees outside in LARGE pots last winter, where they had singlre digit temps, lost thousands of trees this year ... I think with a heavier mixture like I now use you could probably do ok but will I ever try it again even with my improved Midwest blend ????.. "Not on you your tintype girly girl" ( The Music Man quote)
Davidsan
davesnursery
Milford, DE

June 10, 2010
4:15 PM

Post #7876900

David

I agree 110%.

Dave
markblanchard13
Camp Hill, PA

June 10, 2010
5:30 PM

Post #7877107

myersphcf/davidsnursery
Sorry to hear about your losses. What blend do you use? I thought the same about the Gritty Mix, especially for a 1 or 2 gallon pot! What mix would you recomend for my South Central PA zone 6b?

Thanks,
Mark
largosmom
Newport News, VA
(Zone 7b)

June 10, 2010
6:30 PM

Post #7877222

markblanchard13...I've been do davidsnursery up in Jersey, and those trees are awesome even in winter with bare branches.

I judge the pot size needed by going a couple to four inches in diameter larger than the current pot when I'm growing them bigger. This allows room for some fresh soil. I check the roots before repotting and uncircle any heading in a circular pattern to prevent girdling. I've got a few that will need some root pruning if I keep them in pots much longer, but the larger ones are likely to go in the ground in the fall. I'm trialing them in the yard now.

I use probably a bad mix. I need something that does hold some water in my area...I cannot water every day.

Laura
markblanchard13
Camp Hill, PA

June 10, 2010
7:09 PM

Post #7877299

Thank's Laura, I'll keep that in mind!
I can water every day, but I'd rather not HAVE to, as I'm prone to forgetting! I didn't get nicknames loke Spaceman and Chowderhead for nothing!

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