Acer Shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon' in a container

jujustad(7B-8A)March 19, 2011

I am very new to gardening. I am considering repotting my Japanese maple as I potted it last year in Miracle Grow soil(with some added pea gravel) with styrofoam on the bottom. I think that I have learned way too much over the past months to leave it in the stuff. I have been reading a lot on the container gardening site about Al's Gritty mix and the 5:1:1 mix. I read somewhere on this forum that a barky type mix would be a good choice for a JM and was wondering if any of you have used the 5:1:1 or have a blend that you like better. I thought that I would use the gritty mix but my container is really big (24"diam and 18" tall) and with all of the screening of turface and grit thatv I did for my houseplants I ended up with not much usable material...It would be quite costly unless I use a smaller cache pot which is a possibility too. I can definitely go with the Gritty Mix if you JM experts think it is superior.

My JM has tiny buds on it and so I guess I should do this very soon or wait until late fall? How often should I expect to re-pot in a barky type mix? Every year? Any help is much appreciated.



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If you do it, do it soon. Before the tree is fully budded or leafed out will present the least amount of stress, although I have repotted containerized JM's at pretty much all times of the year. You just need to take more care at less ideal times.

The gritty mix is great but there are other appropriate bagged mixes you can access in this area if you prefer. Repotting is not necessarily a yearly activity. I have had an 'Autumn Moon' in container for at least 5 years and it has only been repotted (and root pruned) once during that period, although it may be due for a repeat performance soon :-) If the container is sufficiently roomy for the size of the tree and you use a very durable potting mix - like the gritty mix - repotting should only be necessary every third or fourth year, maybe longer for larger containers.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 1:49PM
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Thanks Gardengal! Do you have a preference on the bagged mixes if I decide to go that way? I can certainly make a trip to Molbaks if that would get me a better mix. I have been having mixed results with the gritty and my indoor plants. I'm a little concerned about putting my JM in it because I feel like I might not be making the mix correctly and I don't want to lose the tree. I also don't have any experience yet with the 5:1:1 and think experimenting with the JM probably isn't so smart. I plan on making 5:1:1 up for my container veggies this year and should get a feel for it after that.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 2:39PM
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Kellogg Garden products distributes bagged mixes under a couple of different labels -- look for Gardner&Bloome or Master Nursery. I use the acid planting mix. This is formulated specifically for use as a soil amendment or potting mix for acid loving plants and I use it for all my containerized conifers and Japanese maples. It is a composted bark based product, so quite durable - I've had it hold up for at least 5 growing seasons before I feel I need to replace. It is the closest premixed bagged product I have found to the gritty mix.

Gardner&Bloome products are carried by all the larger Seattle area nurseries - Swanson's, Sky, Molbak's, Emery's, etc. The Master Nursery label (same exact product) is often carried by the smaller and more rural independent nurseries.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 12:28PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

A word of caution: last year I bought a JM and potted it in a combination of bagged steer manure and good grade potting soil. It sulked all year, lost its leaves, not happy. I would stick with the mixes that Gardengal recommends and not experiment like I did.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 4:30PM
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Thank you Gardengal and Dotty! I will look for the Master Nursery label....may be able to find it nearer to me than Molbaks

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 6:24PM
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