Ask a Question forum→Japanese Maple Acer Palmatum Katsura

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Blackpool
Captainplanet
May 30, 2020 8:55 PM CST
Hi,
I'm new here. I have a problem with an acer tree/plant that I need help with.
A little background... Someone I know ordered a few plants online including the Acer in question. All the plants were fine except this acer. It had bugs on it. It wasn't potted right etc. Please see pictures attached. Anyways a couple of emails later (about 2 days) they refunded him and told him he could keep the plant. He didn't see any hope for it so he wanted to bin it. Which where I requested if I could have it. After all it's a living thing!!!
I'm fairly new to gardening about 3-4 year. I've just come to the point where this is my first year I've grown everything I'm putting new in my garden myself. Always wanted an acer but felt I wasn't ready (guess just paranoia because I love them so much).
I don't know a lot about Acers so have a few questions.
There are some dry branches will they come to life or are they dead? Basically how can I tell? If they are dead do I prune them as it's harming the new growth or can I only prune in fall?
I've used soap and water solution to get rid of the bugs for now is there anything else I can do?
Lastly is it going to work or am I just fighting a lost cause?
All bugs were removed and reported with Ericaceous compost but no fertiliser.
Any help would be really appreciated.
Thank you.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
May 30, 2020 9:25 PM CST
Welcome!

Yes, it will work but, your first mistake was repottingl. The JM (Japanese Maple) was already in distress because of the trip in a box and the bugs - it didn't need the added stress of a re-pot.

What kind of bugs did it have? What are the black bug looking things still on the tree?

As long as the stems are green, the tree is alive. In bonsai, its a very common practice to remove all the leaves of a JM as the new leaves grow in smaller. Bonsai growers will remove the leaves 3 times in a season to accomplish those tiny leaves to make the bonsai look like a great big tree in miniature.

Any stems or branches that are light brown are dead and will easily snap off. Green, pliable branches are alive and will grow new leaves.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: John
Pomona/Riverside CA (Zone 9a)
CPPgardener
May 30, 2020 10:45 PM CST
Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Mostly it looks OK, if the bugs are gone you're good to go. Katsura is a fairly sun-tolerant variety so half a day should be alright. Regular watering when it doesn't rain and a little fertilizer according to package instructions and you're on your way to a gorgeous spring display for years!

The first one I saw was in a 30" box in a nursery on an overcast day right as the leaves were at their newly leafed out best, with a background of deep green assorted foliage - it fairly glowed!! Drooling Drooling All we had was a Honda Accord and an hour-and-a-half drive on a freeway so we had to say goodbye to a stunning little tree Sad Sighing!
“That which is, is.That which happens, happens.” Douglas Adams
Blackpool
Captainplanet
Jul 19, 2020 8:56 AM CST
Sorry yes I know it's been a while since I posted. During the lock down keeping our business a float I just didn't find the time to reply.

The pictures posted earlier were pictures I got the plant in. Should have taken pictures after reporting but forgot to do so.

I am happy to report that the plant is doing really well. It's put on tons of new growth in all directions. Hurray!

I did the reporting using Ericaceous and John Innes no 2 not only Ericaceous compost as reported earlier.

I am fertilising it twice a month using Miracle-Gro Azalea, Camellia and Rhododendron Concentrated Liquid Plant Food formulated for acid-loving or lime-hating plants.

The only problem I had was picking a spot. Which when I think about it is the 2nd reason why I didn't get one before.
Both my office and home are about 200ft and 300-500ft approx from the Irish Sea and our normal wind speed is in 20's mph.
I've over come it by keeping it at the office where I have a little court yard(35ftx11ft) blockEd from north, east and west by buildings. In total gets 6 hours of sunlight starting 30 mins before noon and lasting till about 5 1/2 hours in afternoon. It's in a spot which gets 4 hrs of sun and have put greenhouse needing to block 50% sun (Label claims) until the clematis on the wall grows enough to keep it in dappled shade. The only thing is I'll probably have to grow it in bush form rather then a tree which I don't mind. Suggestions are very welcome alway, they got me this far. Thank you.


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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Jul 19, 2020 12:07 PM CST
Stop fertilizing. Trees grow slowly so should be fertilized only 3 times per growing season. Fertilizer for any potted plant should be mixed at half strength. JMs hate nitrogen and Miracle Gro is heavy in nitrogen. When you do fertilize (3 times a growing season), used a balanced fertilizer with micronutrients.

I don't fertilize my JMs at all. Every couple years, enough dirt is missing from the pot, that I lift the root ball, add soil underneath and put the plant back in As I used Miracle Grow potting soil, I figure the tree is good for another couple years.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: John
Pomona/Riverside CA (Zone 9a)
CPPgardener
Jul 31, 2020 5:28 PM CST
Hurray! Hurray! I tip my hat to you.
Looks like your tree is really happy! Your lighting sounds just about perfect and the wind-blocking should keep it growing vigorously for years. I would suggest repotting it this winter or early next Spring. It's a fairly fast grower and repotting it will keep it from getting rootbound. If the roots seem all wound up when you take it out of the pot you can cut them vertically at the bottom of the rootball so they spread out. Check out some bonsai videos to get a better idea of the technique.

For a "rank beginner" you're doing quite well and deserve that pat on your back you're giving yourself. Keep going like this and you'll be a "real gardener" in no time!!

Keep us posted on developments.

Happy plant parenting
“That which is, is.That which happens, happens.” Douglas Adams
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Jul 31, 2020 6:42 PM CST
You won't need a repot for at least a couple years. Its growing that rapidly because of all the fertilizer. That's not good growth as it will outpace the root system and produce weaker growth and a weaker tree.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Al
5b-6a MI
Image
tapla
Jul 31, 2020 9:13 PM CST
@Captainplanet - glad you got your tree turned around. I was concerned when I read you used soap and water on it as that damages waxes in the leaf cuticle, the job of which is to prevent evaporative water loss and limit entry of disease pathogens and insect herbivory. There are special soaps made of long-chain fatty acids of potassium that are formulated to be tough on bugs and easy on plants. Search "insecticidal soap".

FWIW, I have many nice potted maples and fertilize them weekly at concentrations higher than production levels, though I do flush the soil when I water. Your plant will need a repot when it needs a repot - and that isn't determined by the calendar. Maples species which are genetically vigorous and younger than 10-15 years could do with an annual repotting. If you plan to keep these in pots, you should understand that potting up isn't a substitute for repotting, which includes bare-rooting, root-pruning, and a change of grow medium. You can tell if your tree needs repotting by lifting it from the pot. If the root/soil mass can be lifted with the root/soil mass intact, it will benefit from a repotting in spring at the first sign of spring budswell.

BTW - you have no weak growth on the tree, so you are not over-fertilizing. Your tree's growth rate is not determined by how much fertilizer you supply the tree. It is determined by the most limiting factor. I'll explain. First, there are 6 factors that affect plant growth and yields; they are: air (in the root zone), water, light, temperature, soil/media, nutrients. Liebig's Law of Limiting Factors states the most deficient factor limits plant growth, and increasing the supply of non-limiting factors will not increase plant growth. Only by increasing most deficient factor will the plant growth increase. There is also an optimum combination of the factors and increasing them, individually or in various combinations, can lead to toxicity for the plant. So, if any cultural factor is more limiting than fertility, no matter how much you fertilize it won't make a difference, at least not until there is so much fertilizer in the soil solution it becomes the most limiting factor as a toxicity. Liebig's Barrel is often used to illustrate how the Law of the Minimum works;
Thumb of 2020-08-01/tapla/f1976d The plant represented by this particular image suffers a nitrogen deficiency. If every other factor was made perfect but the N deficiency was not fixed, the plant would not grow any better.

Also, the idea that top growth could somehow "outpace the root system and produce weaker growth and a weaker tree" is not supportable. Root growth always precedes top growth. If roots are unable to support additional mass above the soil line, top growth stops until such time that enough roots grow to support more top mass. That's why the death of fine roots from over-watering puts the brakes on top growth immediately, and until enough fine roots regenerate to the point where they will be able to sustain more top growth.

Finally, you're not going to be able to get away with shearing your tree like you would a shrub. If you try that, you're going to end up with countless lower order branches emanating from from 1 spot on the next higher order branch. (the trunk is a first order branch, branches growing from the trunk are second order and branches from second order branches are third order .......) You're going to need to learn how to prune and pinch at the right time, and the top will need to be pruned back much harder than the lower branches because the tree's natural tendency is to devote about 2/3 of its energy outlay in the top 1/3 of the plant.

Al


Thumb of 2020-08-01/tapla/6ac9ae A palmatum

[Last edited by tapla - Aug 1, 2020 8:57 AM (+)]
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