Manhandeling a Japanese Maple

SuzannySeptember 30, 2012

My sister was moving from Michigan to Wisconsin, and at the last minute we decided to dig out her Japanese Maple and bring it back to Wisconsin with us. We really did not take any precautions, and neither of us know very much about JM. Ive since read that you have to be EXTREMELY careful not to disrupt the root ball, dont bang it around, dont drop it in the new hole, etc... To be honest, this little guy did not get the royal treatment. It was dug up, as best we could (it was amongst blanket juniper so it was difficult to dig up), put very uncerimoniously into a bucket, transported across the states in the back of an enclosed snowmobile trailer, and is now in that same bucket (2 days later) waiting for me to take care of it. I wont be able to plant it where I want to, until next spring. I planned on planting it in a pot and overwintering it indoors and then transplanting into my yard next spring. But from what I read, it sounds like it's already doomed because of it's "traumatic" travels. Does it still stand a chance?

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Not the best treatment for a JM to be sure but I highly doubt it is doomed. These plants can be a lot more resilient than you'd expect.

As far as care now is concerned, I'd recommend planting in the ground over anything else. This is going to afford it the best chance of recovery. If this is NOT possible, you can pot it up using a very good quality potting soil (i.e. NOT Miracle Gro) but you don't want to keep it indoors for the winter. It needs a period of dormancy.

If you can, sink the container into the ground. If not, an unheated, attached garage or a very cool basement could work. Keep temperatures below 45F - right around 35-40F is ideal. Check periodically for water - it won't need much. Just keep the soil barely moist to the touch.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 3:25PM
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CEFreeman(DC/MD Burbs 7B)

Not inside, no.
I pot mine in big pots with lots of room for them to potentially spread out. Then I bury the pot in the ground. I've done this with over 100 maples for about 6 years now. Slowly, after I can determine their sun tolerance, I put them actually in the ground.

If you must pot it for the winter, put it someplace where the pot won't freeze. No air underneath, nor too much water to freeze the roots. Up there, it only takes a few inches to protect it.

I never understand why people decide something is so fragile. I've dug up and moved peonies, all kinds of trees & shrubs, heuchera and hosta, and even have hellabores in unGodly full sun. Go figure.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 2:14PM
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