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Make Healthy Roots

In this Episode of the MrMaple Show, Tim and Matt talk about making healthy roots for your Japanese Maple trees. 

Why healthy roots?

When you think about your Japanese Maples, you want them to thrive and do well in the landscape. One of the beautiful things about Japanese Maples isn't just what's above the soil, but what's below it. Japanese Maples have shallow, non-invasive roots that make them fantastic for container growing and for growing near rock walls. They are great in the landscape because they won't mess up what you already have planted there.

A healthy tree starts with healthy roots. To get that healthy root system, you want to make sure that the tree has good drainage. Good drainage is key for healthy roots, and you can do this by adding soil amendments. Make sure that you do not plant in compacted soil, and make sure that when you plant the tree, it is level with or slightly raised from the ground around it.

What should I use?

Here at Mr. Maple, we use a custom blend of 80% pine bark, 15% peat, and 5% perlite mix (similar to most Miracle-Gro bag mixes). We found that this blend has an adequate amount of drainage and is a great combination for the soil that Japanese Maples need to thrive. If you're putting trees into puts or planting them in the fall, make sure to use a mix that does not have fertilizer added; it will cause too many complications. 

Healthy roots on Japanese Maples is important because that helps the Maples protect themselves from many soil-borne diseases. One key think is to make sure that you do not over-water. Over-watering Japanese Maples can cause phytophthora, especially in high heat situations. You also do not want to over-water the plants a lot during the winter. You want to water them a minimal amount, just enough so that they get damp and then dry out, since winter is the easiest time for pseudomonas to enter the tree. By avoiding those times and avoiding over-watering during the winter, it will help to prevent from diseases and from plant stress. 

Fungi and micronutrients:

Some of the good fungi include endomycorrhiza and ectomycorrhiza. Both of these are good for plants out in the landscape, and can be found naturally. In containers you will want to add these to the roots. Japanese Maples like endomycorrhiza since the ectomycorrhiza is neutral to the roots. What you're going to want is the endomycorrhiza that will attach itself and form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of the Japanese Maples. This helps the plant to take up water and nutrients more efficiently. 

Make sure that you do not fertilize for six weeks after you use the endomycorrhiza, as this will ensure that the mycorrhizae get established on the root system. This will help the Japanese Maple to outperform the other Japanese Maples that do not have that added fungi, since it will be able to take in water and nutrients better than without.

Japanese Maples also love micronutrients. Whenever you use something like fertilizer, it may have some of the micronutrients, but not everything. We often use a fertilizer called Micromax, which has all the essential micronutrients that Japanese Maples need, by mixing it into the pot. Out naturally in the landscape, those micronutrients are naturally abundant, so adding them to containers is essential for healthy roots. We use a pine bark soilless media in our pots, so there are no micronutrients in a container, which is where the Micromax comes in. 

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