I've recently purchased a Sango kaku Maple but paid for it before I saw it. It looks healthy but the shape is not what I expected. It was in a 15 gal container. It has a lot of branches swaying at the top. Did I get a bad tree or do I just need to wait it out and learn more about them? Any advice is greatly appreciated. My husband and I have put a lot of work into the front of our yard this fall. I don't want to mess it up now that we've gone to all this work. :-) Thank you.
Is this an odd shape for a Sango kaku Maple?
if it were me i would trim off those long branches at the top a few inches below the other branches - if snow is not a problem there in VA i would wait until early march for the trim - it will bounce back next year and hopefully grow evenly - does look strange
Did you buy it at Home Depot, by chance?
If so, my guess is that it may have been over-fertilized. I've seen some other cultivars grow strangely like that and it always seemed to be those that were planted in very rich soil or had come from a box store where the granular fertilizer was abundant in the potting soil.
I think Davidsan (on these forums) has mentioned how some of the growers out west will fertilize JMs in an effort to get them to put on unnatural growth so that they can sell them for more money.
Thank you both for your reply. No, I didn't get it at Home Depot. I got it from a local company who got it from a local wholesaler. I will never, ever again buy another tree without seeing it first! Ugh! Some people say cut it, some say just let it grow. I hate making decisions like this. Any opinions about whether to cut the excess or not are appreciated. It's only been in the ground for 1 day so I've called the people that sold it to me in an attempt to see if they'll get me another tree. We'll see how that goes. If I cut it, that's 1/3 to almost half the height of the tree. One of the branches is rather thick. I'm afraid I won't cut it correctly. This has been one big learning experience for us. Any opinions are appreciated. Thanks so much.
To cut or not is a tough call.
On the one hand, it is an odd, unpleasant looking shape and to give it a more balanced look I think trimming would be necessary. On the other hand, if you leave it alone it could possibly fill out more uniformly next year and you wouldn't be sacraficing so much of the height. I'd really like to hear what some of the other people have to say about cutting it. To my eye, it looks like the new leaves are all green and I wonder if those branches are possibly reverting to the rootstock in which case you'd definitely want to trim.
I think pursuing a replacement tree from the people you bought it from is probably the best course of action.
Thank you GardenSox for your input. I need all the advice I can get. :-)
i agree - if you can return it do so. If you paid via credit card more leverage - i would put it back in the container and deliver it back to them
There is nothing wrong with the tree. If you desire to have a fuller tree then by all means trim the top shoots back 6". Always trim to just above a node. The best time to trim is a couple of weeks before bud brake in the spring. Once trimmed it will force the visable nodes and the nodes that are not visable to grow thereby creating a fuller plant after the spring growth.
I"ve had two Sango Kakus and they have both done that. If you can ignore the ball of leaves on the bottom I think that you can see that your tree isn't so bad.
I guess I'll take Dave's advice and trim it a little in the spring. Thank you Dave for the specifics of where to cut it! :-). I do have to ask (and if I'm wrong, then fine, I'm wrong - this is all new to me) but would/should a nursery normally sell a tree shaped like this to the typical home landscaper? Shouldn't this tree have been in the hands of the grower who would prepare it to be sold later? I was charged $400 for this tree. For that kind of money, I'm disappointed (and a little ticked off really) that I have to wait for this slow growing oddity to starting looking normal.I would have rather gotten a better looking tree and just waited for it to get bigger. I have read that this tree can be shaped so I think/hope eventually it will be fine.
i would be disappointed too - still might be worth asking for a replacement with a better shape.
I will almost guarantee that the price of that tree on a wholesale level was no more then $60.00-$75.00. It is not the fault of the grower that you paid $400.00. As to the growing of the tree, you have to ask yourself what would be the cost of the plant if the grower took your advise and chose to hold onto the plant for several more years while the plant was rounding out? You must understand that a retailer has to mark the plant up sometimes 3-6 times the expense of the wholesale price because the customers want this all important unconditional guarantee on the plant. Now if you go back and use a guarantee to replace this plant (one time only guarantee) the retailer will not be out of any money and is still making a profit. What it comes down to is you paid big money for the luxury of having a guarantee. Maybe you should negotiate with the retailer next time on buying a plant without a guarantee. They should knock off quite a bit of money.
Thank you Dave. And I certainly do realize it's not the grower that sets the prices. I've spoken with my retailer and they won't take it back. I even offered to pay a "restocking fee" if such a thing existed and he said no. I've also spent quite a bit of money with them during this project so I know he's made some profit. If his cost was really as low as the $60 to $75 estimated then I would think he would be willing to either replace it or do something. Apparently not. Lesson learned and then some for me. You all have been very helpful. Thank you so much.
the sango kaku is still a nice tree and as others have said here it will fill out with some care and time.
Does that make you think twice about buying from this retailer in the future? It would me.
Oh yes. Never again from these people. It's a shame too b/c I still have a lot of landscaping to do and I'll NEVER spend another dime with these people. I agree with care and time the tree will improve but I also know this guy stuck me. I very much appreciate getting both views here on the forum though. I understand the grower/retailer side but I'm the customer and I feel like they shorted me.
Maybe you shouldn't be so quick to write off this retailer. Now that you are armed with some facts you will become a more formidable buyer and able to see deals when the retailer themselves can't. You might be able to go and get some end of year sales that others might think worthless.
Just a suggestion.
If the tree came like that which has never been mentioned you should not have not have excepted it from the git go!! it if it grew like that over the summer you over fertilized it or you have rich soil . And if it was planted in spring you endured a very tough summer I had two or three older established plants do that just trimmed them back .. retuning the tree will be a hassle I wouldn't.... most tree damage is caused by the buyer and you do pay hefty price for a guarantee and with Jms especially in north you never know... Home depot and lowes pay peanuts for there trees and know 80% will not bring back a dead tree the next spring for replacement since they know they caused it or the weather and they may not have same size more tree anyway... this hedious summer doomed many trees they may not make nit thru the winter ... we shall see especially those that bough small conifers or small wimpy Jms to save a $ have learned there lesson with small inmatuer root stock that nmshould be kept potted for a year nor two ,.. this summer if they survived the hot sun you needed to water two times a day for those twigs and i assure you most didn't and haven dead or dieing plants . remember if A conifer starts turning brown there nis no way back .. if a Jm looses even every leaves it has secondaries to put out but if in fulkl sun where it should never have been planted it won't likely;y re leaf .. With Jms the buyer is usually at fault ... in you case the bottom doesn't look right neither but if it lives and most sangos doin't anyway except in south ( so you may be ok ) it will be ok with trimming be ok in a couple years maybe even next. remember don't except a tree that looks like that but if you had it since spring don't blame the seller. not woth the haggle