Japanese Maples in containers - I have no idea what I'm doing...

greentiger87June 19, 2012

On a whim, I bought some Japanese Maple "saplings" on clearance (2.00 each!) late last summer from a nursery. They were really tall (like over three feet), but grown bunched up in tiny, tall containers. Looked healthy enough though. I've never grown a maple of any kind before, and I really have no idea what I'm doing.

I transplanted into my first, flawed iteration of the gritty mix, in which I used unscreened decomposed granite. I think I just got lucky that this resembles JM's natural habitat. I think?

The leaves burned and dropped after the midsummer transplant. They looked dead. But erupted back into life this spring.

What I think was thrips damage made the second flush of new leaves look very ugly. I chopped the trees in half and pruned off the damaged foliage to hopefully get less leggy growth. Did I mention I have no idea what I'm doing?

So my question to you gurus of growing containerized JM's is.. should I keep these? Do they have any potential? Did I ruin them already? I've grown attached, despite my horrible treatment of them.

They're mostly in shade, but get occasional dappled sunlight throughout the day. Fertilized when I get around to it with dyna-gro, and lately Miracle Gro + Cal-Mag. I have a lot of old Miracle Gro I need to use up.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

They have as much potential as you have patience. For example, next spring, you could simply sacrifice the top of the maple in the last picture by chopping off the top just above that little branch that comes off the main a few inches above the soil and just start over. The wound will heal completely in a year or two if you chop it correctly - something I can help with when the time comes. You could also layer off the top if you wanted to ..... lots of options.

All the trees could stand a good shortening, but let them grow wild until after leaves fall & then do your pruning.

Your tree has the same potential - all that's lacking is a little time & experience, which fortunately often seem to arrive coincidentally: ;-)


    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 3:35PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Dang, Al...great shot!


    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 5:43PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

I agree Josh!!!


Simply beautiful AL!!!


    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 1:53AM
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Al - Sigh, wow. I don't know if I'll ever have enough patience for bonsai, but you make the results look so incredible.

Thanks for your reply, I think I'll take you up on that offer for pruning help when the time comes.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 3:35PM
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