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.
We only ship Japanese maples within the continental United States of America.
When you buy a Japanese maple from MrMaple.com, due to the high volume during the COVID-19 situation, your order of Japanese maple trees will be shipped out within 2 weeks. We greatly appreciate your understanding during these times.
We have custom boxes that extra thick and allow for the safest shipment of your Japanese maples. Our new custom boxes allow us to ship your Japanese maple trees in their container, making the smoothest transition from our nursery to your garden. These boxes can fit two Japanese maples easily inside each box. You will simply need a pair of scissors to cut the tape around the box and pull your Japanese maple out.
Location is something that should be considered. Nearly all Japanese maples can handle growing in the shade or getting morning sun and afternoon shade. For planting trees in the sun it is important to make sure you are getting a selection that can handle full sun in your area. We have plenty of Japanese maples that grow and do well in full sun in Zone 8. When you get to zone 9, many of the Japanese maples should be planted with protection from the hot afternoon sun. There are a few maples we carry that can handle full sun in zone 9.
One of the most important things to remember is that Japanese maples do not like wet feet. This means that heavily boggy areas will need raised beds that allow drainage for the Japanese maple roots. This can simply be done by raising the area where you will be planting the Japanese maple with more soil.
The hole should be dug 1.5 times bigger than than container the Japanese maple is in. This extra size is primarily to losen the soil for the roots of your Japanese maple which will allow for it to get established quicker. Take the Japanese maple out of the container and place it in the hole. The main thing to remember when planting a Japanese maple is that it should be planted level with where the soil level was in the container. This is important as Japanese maples planted too deeply do not perform well in the landscape. This means that you will have to put part of the soil that you already dug back into the hole before planting.
People often ask where or not they should condition their soil for the Japanese maple. For the most part, you shouldn't. Japanese maples can do well in both sandy soils and clay soils. When you ammend the soil they have to get established in your ammendments and then get established in the exterior soil.
Japanese maples have a non-invasive root system that makes them ideal for container growing and bonsai culture. This will allow you to bring the ornamental appeal of Japanese maple to your deck, patio, poolside, and driveway expanding your garden. The concept of how big a Japanese maple will get in a container is similar to that of how big a goldfish will get inside a bowl. A Japanese maple will grow the size container it is put in. A small container will dwarf the size of the tree from the size the tree would naturally be in the landscape. Dwarf Japanese maples are often used in containers because they get fairly close to full-size in most containers. The best tip for container growing is a well-drained pot.
1. Choose your Japanese maple based on the location you plan on growing your container grown maple (ex. Sun or shade?).
2. Select the container you would like to use. The primary thing to look for is good drainage. You may be able to drill extra holes in non-ceramic containers. At least one drain hole is necessary. For containers with only one drain hole, you may consider lining the bottom of the container with 1-2 inches of medium sized gravel to increase drainage.
3. Soil should be selected based on how frequently you plan on watering the plant. For Japanese maples that will be regularly watered by an irrigation system, a soil with more perlite is ideal. An example of this would be a regular bag of miracle grow mix. For maples that will not be on a regular irrigation system, make sure to add more peat moss to the mixture. This will allow for the maple itself to retain a higher amount of moisture. When adding the soil to the container make sure to keep the root collar and trunk of the Maple at the same level it was in it’s previous container. It is also good to leave at least 1/2 inch to 2 inches of the top lip of the container free from soil. This allows for the maple to be watered effectively.
4. Select a companion plant such as small sedums that can cover the soil-surface to reduce heat and moisture loss for the roots of the maple. When choosing a companion plant it is essential to use only plants with extremely shallow and tiny root systems that will not grow into the roots of the maple.
5. Water frequently based on the finger test. If the soil around your Japanese maple feels dry, water.
6. For small containers (smaller than a nursery 3 gallon) check the root system of your Japanese maple during the winter every 3 years. If the root ball is getting very thick, trim the root system leaving 3/4 of the root system. Add soil as necessary. For larger containers, you can go much longer without root pruning the roots of your Japanese maple. We suggest checking every 7-8 years. For those that do not want to root prune, you can always upgrade your Japanese maple to a larger pot size or put the tree in the landscape, however, with a few minutes of root pruning every few years a Japanese maple can stay in any pot for its entire life.
*Japanese maples that have been stressed should be given Super Thrive at recommended doses from the bottle. This can often be purchased at Wal-Mart or your local garden center or department store. This simply gives Japanese maples the proper nutrients and hormones that will help it heal and recover and help it get back into a growing mode.
Japanese maples are extremely easy to care for. The less you do the better. Japanese maples do not like a lot of nitrogen so fertilizers are not necessary. Fertilizers with low amounts of nitrogen can be used in the early spring and mid-summer, however it is not necessary.
Trimming your Japanese maple can actually make your tree grow faster. If you trim the smaller branches back leaving larger and thicker branching with buds, your tree will often grow very quickly. This is because you get a cleaner flow or nutrients from Japanese maples that have been trimmed. It is like excersing your Japanese maples. It is best to do this in the early spring right before your Japanese maple leafs out. This is typically around the late February to early March time period for us in North Carolina. The main trick for trimming is to never trim more than 45% of your tree off. Yes, that means you can trim a Japanese maple heavily. Remember to clean your pruning tools with rubbing alcohol. This helps keep your pruning tools sanitized which helps your Japanese maple stay healthy.
Steps for Pruning:
1. Start out by pruning out branches you don't like on your Japanese maple. If the branch is larger than 3/4 of an inch in diameter we recommend using a saw. Large branches you don't like only get bigger so it is best to prune them out early in the tree's life.
2. Prune out the twiggier smaller branching. Smaller branching only makes smaller branching. This means these will make the tree grow slower. By pruning your Japanese maple and leaving the large branching you will get a larger tree quicker.
3. Trim out conflicting branching on your Japanese maple. This means if two limbs are touching are are too close, one of them should be trimmed out. A lot of pruning is judgement calls. Picking which one stays and which one goes will be a judgement call that only the owner or the pruner can make.
4. If you are trimming an upright selection, make sure to keep one branch as a central leader. This is typically the tallest part of the tree on most upright Japanese maples. If you are trimming a dwarf or a laceleaf Japanese maple, you can trim the Japanese maple to accentuate the natural shape of the tree. This can be done with laceleaf types by trimming your Japanese maple to create different levels of branching.
5. Trim out the fishtails. When there are three small branches coming out of the terminal buds on the end of a branch, it is often good to trim out the middle branch. This gives room for the other two branches and allows them have more energy.
While trimming is not necessary, if you follow these steps, your Japanese maple should grow much quicker for you.
Any customers with damaged trees from shipment must notify MrMaple.com by phone within 3 days of delivery. After photo confirmation of the damage an assessment will be made and store credit or replacement tree may be issued.
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