Soil Mix for Container Japanese Maple

patlovesdirt(8 NC)July 7, 2009

I posted earlier today with pics of my JM. The leaves are brown and crispy at the edges. It's in a ceramic pot and in MiracleGro dirt, morning sun/afternoon shade. GardenGal thankfully responded that the problem was likely the MG dirt (who knew that stuff was so bad!). Anyway, I'm going to repot - today, before it gets worse. I'm not willing to wait until the tree is dormant and since it's in a pot now and not that large, I don't think I'll do any damage.

To get to the point, I've searched threads all morning looking for the proper soil mix to use. The one I found about using MiracleGro dirt was very confusing! As far as I can tell from all the posts, there is nothing premixed commercially and I'm sure I haven't seen any premixed soil for JM at our Lowes. Our area (small town) is really limited as to the number of options available at Lowes, so I'm going to try to improvise. Please tell me if this is a good - or okay - plan:

Pine Bark (only kind they have is "pine bark mulch" - will that do?

Peat Moss

Top Soil

Do I need perlite?

I know this probably isn't perfect, but is it okay? Our area is very limited in available options at our Lowes.

Thanks guys!

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Topsoil or any garden soil really has no place in a container mix - it is just too small a particle size and will impede drainage sooner or later. If you are limited in your choices because of location, I'd suggest you purchase a smallish bag of the best quality potting soil you can locate (any retail nurseries or garden centers in your area? they'll have better stuff than Lowe's) and add the bark mulch and perhaps some additional perlite. I'd use a 50-50 mix of the soil and the bark.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 9:50AM
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patlovesdirt(8 NC)

Thank you again, gardengal, for your most excellent advice. I'm very appreciative! This is actually a much simpler solution and I'm happy it's something I can do. (Our small town area in the South (textile-mill-supported-economy) suffered drastically, with few/no retailers left here.) I'm off to buy potting soil (NO MiracleGro!), bark and perlite.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 12:18PM
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This sounds like a good place to use the gritty soil mix! I grow conifers in a gritty soil and they thrive in it. I agree that most bagged mixes are not very good for growing woody plants. They don't drain well at all and do not allow enough oxygen to the root system.

I'm not sure what the rules are about mentioning other forums but there is a forum on here specifically for growing plants in containers. You will find TONS of good information in that forum. many threads on soil mixes, watering schedules, fertilizers, etc.



    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 6:12PM
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ltruett(Zone, 9 Houston)
    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 6:14AM
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patlovesdirt(8 NC)

I've begun sifting through the very large Container forum and you're so right! An enormous amount of really great info there. With so many perennials, trees and shrubs demanding very different specific soil and light conditions, it seems to be the way to go to keep all of them happy and healthy, and for me, a way to eliminate the frustration of constantly digging up and moving things that didn't like the location of the new home I gave them.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 11:22AM
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The combo of potting soil and bark/perlite pretty closely approximates the gritty mix referred to above without having to go through the effort of finding all the individual ingredients, which sounds like it could be tricky in your location. This is a recipe that will accommodate the vast majority of woody plants in a container growing situation.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 11:50AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Azalea mix is also good if you want a quick fix (at least in my area). Very quick draining. I would add turface to azalea mix if you can find it. I think it is a small bag with "PROFILE" on it. I saw it at walmart, Ace hardware, etc. Better than bagged "potting soil".

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 4:27PM
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Yes I strongly encourage you to read through the threads on the Container forum. You will find MANY good tips and suggestions there for growing any kind of plant, including trees.

I used to believe in Miracle Gro potting mixes too, but having grown conifers in the grit mix I can tell they much prefer grit mix with great drainage over peat-based soils.



    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 7:15PM
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