japanese maple planted in pot has water sitting on top now

Thomas_NH(z5 New England)August 3, 2008

I planted an expensive Japanese maple in a cement container. I bought the plant from Wayside Gardens about 5 years ago. I surrounded the pot every winter with insulation. It has done well until now. Water from several recent rains sits on the top soil, about three inches of water. it does not go down. I lifted the pot an inch or so to check the center hole for draining. A large tree root is in the center hole. what can I do? some of the leaves are discoloring now.

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Clearly the drainage has been compromised. Has the tree ever been root pruned and repotted? If not, you need to do so and soon. While this is not an ideal time for this activity, waiting until a more suitable time will seriously jeopardize the health of your tree, if it has not been done already. Poor drainage is typically the kiss of death for Japanese maples. It also sounds as if the tree is seriously rootbound in the container, which is also a very stressful situation - containerized plants that become seriously rootbound are unable to access needed nutrients (you'll find most of the soil/potting mix has disappeared) or moisture (if not in the compromised drainage state yours seems to be in) and growth will be stunted. Stressed plants are much more prone to insect and disease problems as well.

I'd recommend removing the tree from the container immediately, root prune as necessary and repot with fresh potting soil. It is also possible you will need to bump up the container size although careful root pruning may avoid this need. You should allow at least a 2" clearance from the root mass to the sides of the container.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 12:02PM
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Thomas_NH(z5 New England)

Thank you. sounds like my best way to proceed would be to plant it in the ground somewhere in my landscape. I can always use the container for something else. it is pretty small. It is 16 inches square and about the same height. I bet the plant now has nowhere to go with its roots.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 2:14PM
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