Help with Japanese Maple

stlmarkd(Zone 6)June 21, 2010

I have a Japanese Maple that is approximately 3 inches tall that was pulled from the ground next to a mature JM. Currently, it is planted in a 10" terra cotta pot indoors. I have never grown a tree before and was wondering the best way to care for it and when I should plant it outdoors.

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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

I find pots difficult compared to in ground plantings. BUT you have such a little fella it would require some protection in ground and then the transplant may be difficult so I'm not disagreeing with the pot. Just stating they have their own issues.

1. Root temperature. A black pot (even white ones) sitting in the sun makes for hot roots. This winter if left exposed it will make for frozen roots.

I ran an experiment with 3ft dogwoods from the conservation department in pots. out of 18 only 3 made it through winter in my shed or outside. It was the 3 in the center of a group of 9.

You can figure out ways to keep the sun off the pot. In winter you can dig a hole and stick the pot in the hole, fill in the surrounding area with leaves or something. I'm not thrilled with the drainage but hey, its better than nothing.

2. Soil compaction. Everytime I just dig up dirt in the yard and stick it in a pot the stuff seems to turn to concrete. Some plants don't like this so then you're using potting soil.

3. Naturally ya gotta figure out a watering plan.

I'd be tempted to leave it in the pot all summer at this point then plant it in the ground in the fall if you can build a small chicken wire fence around it. I use tomato cages and some wire mesh stuff. Keeps the rabbits and all away.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 12:01PM
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sfhellwig(6a SE Kansas)

And you need to transition to outdoors as soon as possible. If it is acting shocked from the transplant then of course you have to wait that out but deciduous plants don't usually like living indoors. Even if it does well for a while it will need the natural rest over winter. All but a few trees have to live outdoors.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 5:27PM
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dsb22(z7 VA)

The tree definitely should be outdoors, in shade at first. Terra cotta will dry out quickly in the heat so be sure to water frequently enough. However you do want the soil to dry--it should not be wet all the time.

Most definitely do not use dirt from your garden. That is guaranteed death for anything in a pot. You need potting soil that drains freely and doesnÂt compact. Probably any commercial potting soil will be okay, though it might be better *not* to use one that contains a lot of fertilizer (like Miracle Gro). You can mix it with Perlite to improve the drainage further. Personally, I make my own soil, taken from a recipe from Al (tapla) that you can find on here if you do a search. I mix regular potting soil + pine bark fine mulch + a vole block or soil perfecter that is basically very small sharp gravel in about equal parts. I get the potting soil from Lowe's and mulch or vole block/soil perfecter at a good local nursery. Among other things, this mix drains very quickly so you can water as much as you like without worrying about overwatering and rotting the tree's roots. But it's not essential. JMs are easy to grow in pots.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 11:41AM
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