nutrients in gritty mix

japmapleman(7b)August 15, 2011

I have a bunch of Japanese maples in a semi gritty mix(about 80% turfsce and 20% pine bark soil conditioner). What would happen if I just watered them all summer and never added anything else?? Would the trees start to show signs of deficiencies? I'm just curious.

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes, I believe that's what would happen.
Pale leaf color, thin leaf structure, et cetera. That's an awful high percentage of turface, too....
I'd expect some water retention issues eventually. I'm still developing my maples, so I tend to mix
with more bark.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 11:48AM
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so what do you feel will be a better soil for them? Winter will be here before we know it and I can repot them then. Keep in mind Georgia gets 100 degree days with 100% humidity, so I need them to hold some moisture, if not I would be watering two to three times per day. Now I'm watering every one to two days if it doesn't rain.

Thanks for your input

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 12:53PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I agree with Josh. Your mix sounds water-retentive to the degree that it is at least somewhat limiting - even if you screened the Turface, but it depends on the soil volume relative to the plant's root/foliage mass and how quickly air is returning to the entire volume of soil.

Separate nutrition from those things a container media does for the plant and shoulder the entire burden and your trees will thank you for it. The Turface provides nothing in the way of nutrition, and the bark breaks down into elemental form so slowly that it's contribution to nutrition is best considered inconsequential. This is pretty much true of all container soils unless they contain ingredients that break down faster and CAN fill some of the plant's nutritional needs ...... but that approach comes with its own set of problems you'd be better off to avoid.

What would happen is pretty predictable. The plant would rob older tissues of those nutrients that are mobile in the plant, and shed them, so you'll be left with a few weak branches near the top of the tree that sport foliage at their tips only. The foliage and roots would be misshapen and compromised in vitality/growth, and exhibit the physical symptoms caused by the most deficient essential nutrients. It's likely that disease and insect infestations would occur due to the decrease in the bio-compounds that are byproducts of the plants reduced metabolism and that would normally act in the plant's defense.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 4:02PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I like to base my mixes on the principles and proportions that Al (Tapla) introduced to me.
For developing maples, I prefer a mix of about 70 percent Bark, 15 percent course Perlite,
and 15 percent of a water retentive ingredient, such as Turface, Pumice, Scoria, or peat.
Makes for a much more economical mix, as well.

What I would do is design a mix that can handle the moisture of Georgia's winter,
and then I would mulch my containers and employ other tricks to withstand the summer.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 2:39PM
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