Dogwood of 4 years

plethora87June 22, 2011

Hello,

I've had a Dogwood in a ~20 inch pot on the deck for four years now. I'm looking to get some advice on how to keep this baby in good shape.

It has done consistently well despite limited sun (~4 hours) and the fact that I really don't know what I'm doing. I started out with standard soil from Home Depot topped with mulch. I add slow-release fertilizer (Osomocote) and some mulch twice a year. Last fall I trimmed the roots for the first time.

I've been doing some reading in this forum today and there are two things right away that I gather I'm doing wrong:

1) Using manure

2) Using standard soil

I'm also wondering about the tray on the bottom of the pot, which keeps a certain amount of water "on standby" so to speak. Should I remove this?

As far as the soil goes, am I going to need to replace it with something coarser? (I'm not even sure how one would go about doing that.) Or do you think the current soil and fertilization routine might be okay long-term?

Thanks. :-)

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You can guarantee that your shrubs will at least have the opportunity to grow to their genetic potential within the limiting effects of other cultural factors with regular attention to root work, which includes root pruning & regularly changing the soil. You can guarantee that they won't have that opportunity by trusting the tree to nature's course and ignoring the root work. To illustrate that point, I can say that I have never seen and can't imagine a tree in the same container for 5 years or longer that is growing to it's potential. If there are, it's a safe bet they started out in a VERY large container in a VERY fast soil so the soil/root mass is still not congested to the point it could be lifted intact from the container.

I don't think we need to put a 'right/wrong' label on anything any of us do insofar as our efforts at husbandry are concerned, but we could sure have a discussion about the comparative degrees of good that range through poor - not so good - ok - better - approaching best. Having grown hundreds and hundreds of trees & woody plants in containers for more than 20 years, I've decided that highly-aerated and long-lasting soils are the media that produce the best growth with the least effort and the widest margin for error, even in consideration of the fact that initially they're not the easiest soils to put together because of some initial difficulty in locating the best ingredients (but not always - I have and didn't have any trouble).

For some more direction & to review the discussions & results of others, you could try reading through the link I left below. At the end of the opening post, you'll find a link to the previous thread with additional discussion, if you're interested.

AL

Here is a link that might be useful: More about trees in containers if you click me.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2011 at 6:56PM
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plethora87

Thanks Al. Been reading a lot of your posts here.

Hadn't seen that link yet -- I'll get on it.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 1:45PM
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