I got cold feet...

Iowa City, IA(Zone 5a)

As the season is progressing, and everything botanical moves forwards, it became evident to me in the last week that four out of the six baby grafts I purchased last year are dead, one is probably dead, and one is actually doing kind of well ('Emerald Lace') but might decide to suddenly die.

With that in mind, I contacted the two nurseries that I ordered maples from for this planting season and asked to cancel the maples from my orders. The only exception is that I am still getting a 'Pixie' from Dave's Nursery - with the hope that since it is a two year old I might be able to follow directions this time.

So, I think that I know some of the mistakes that I made, and can share those with people on this board. I have hope that with this knowledge I can be a good mom to the 'Pixie' and the "at least 1/3 is alive" 'Emerald Lace'. Maybe someone who is lurking can read this and not do what I did, so that would be very good for their baby maples!

(1) I overwatered - probably the biggest mistake I made. Each time we had a slight thaw, I watered each baby maple. I took the motto "Keep them evenly moist" to an extreme. I learned just how much I overwatered when one of the pots was knocked over accidentally last week - there was practically standing water in the bottom half of the container, downright soggy, which also brings me to
(2) I did not amend the soil. I used Miracle Grow soil straight from the bag and it did not drain well at all. I purchased a big bag of chicken grit that I plan to mix in with a different soil mix for my other container plants.
(3) I purchased late in the season, so I had no real way to tell how well the grafts were doing when I received them from mail order, because they were already leaf-less.
(4) I think the containers I used were too large, but am not sure. I did not plan well for which maple would go in which container.
(5) I danced with zone hardiness, we had a rough winter, and at least two had pretty severe cold damage, even though they were in a garage.
(6) Lousy air circulation, combined with overwatering, equals mold. The garage was unheated and had poor air circulation - for next winter we're going to have the garage insulated and will run a fan to keep air circulating.

There are just so many things I did wrong, and it took reading posts on here just to realize these. I'm sure there were more things. I feel so embarassed - I know that gardening is a lot of trial and error, but I wish I did not have an almost 100% failure rate for this first year! Sheesh, conifers are so much easier...

A big THANK YOU to the two nurseries who have been wonderful to work with and let me change my orders kind of "last minute" - Dave's Nursery and Klehm Song Sparrow!


Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

I'm so sorry that you lost your trees Elizabeth! But you don't need to feel embarrassed. I lost an expensive hosta last year because the bottom of the pot got clogged up and it drowned. The pots for my JM's now are elevated off of the ground so that doesn't happen to them and I've been growing JM's for many years. I bought these. They aren't cheap but with the price of JM's it's worth it.

Hope that you will keep trying!

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