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Maples Acer - Growing, Propagation, Identification, Appreciation and more!

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  #1  
Old February 15th, 2004, 10:21 AM
Lynn Wilson
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Fertilization

In regard to fertilizer application, after you have pulled the mulch away from the drip line do you break up the ground and apply the fertilizer or do you just apply the fertilizer to the top of the ground and then replace the mulch.
I am aware of the tiny fiberous roots on the top of the ground of most of the Japanese Maple cultivors and was not sure if breaking the ground up applying the fertilizer and then replacing the soil was the way to go or just applying the fertilizer on top of the ground and then replacing the mulch was the way to go.
I appreciate your time.
Thank you,
Lynn Wilson
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  #2  
Old February 18th, 2004, 01:51 PM
Douglas Justice's Avatar
Douglas Justice Douglas Justice is offline
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Japanese maple cultivars, as well as other Acer species don't usually need supplemental feeding when grown in the garden (i.e., in soil), unless the fertility is inherently low, such as would be found in a gravelly soil. Plants do require some feeding in containers, but even here, many people apply excessive amounts. Most plants are perfectly adapted to finding moisture and nutrients in the soil on their own. Annual applications of leaf mulch are usually sufficient to grow great trees. (Picture a forest, where leaves fall to the ground every autumn and are incorporated into the soil and transformed by the organisms there--these trees don't need extra fertilizer.) Slower growing, unfertilized Japanese maples usually look more "natural" and suffer less from drought-stress, pests and disease.

Granular fertilizers (such as the commonly available 6-8-6) generally require incorporation to be effective, and are practically useless in coarse textured soils when applied at the surface. Soluble fertilizers are applied in solution and poured over the soil (or through a mulch). However, this is an expensive and mostly wasteful method for trees, because soluble nutrients are usually quickly leached away. Controlled release fertilizers are also expensive, but more cost-effective, as they can be applied to the soil surface and they meter out their nutrients slowly, usually depending on the thickness of the fertilizer coating and the temperature. If they cannot be incorporated, they are best applied at the soil surface, below the mulch layer.
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  #3  
Old March 15th, 2004, 09:52 AM
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mr.shep mr.shep is offline
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Location: San Joaquin Valley, California
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Lynn - Whether to fertilize Japanese Maples or not and when to fertilize has been one of my
most frequently asked questions in my travels to visit Southern and Central Oregon nurseries
in the past. A lot depends on what type of watering system you are using and what kind of
soil do you have. There are no easy answers and a lot depends on whether you feel a need
to fertilize or not, how much rainfall do you get, how cold or warm are your temps, are the
Maples grown in containers or grown in the ground and in quite a few cases which varieties
and perhaps species of Maples are you considering to fertilize. One thing we have found
is that some varieties of Japanese Maples do respond well to fertilization, some do not and
with some Maples it is probably best not to include a fertilizer with any Nitrogen. A 0-10-10
may be best for many but not all variegated Maples. As far as variegates one thing we have
observed in the past is that too much vigorous growth will yield a major reduction in the
amount of variegated leaves that we can see. Use a 6-12-6 on a Roseo marginatum, Butterfly,
Beni schischihenge, Orido nishiki, Asahi zuru and Higasayama to name a few and you can
expect to see a dramatic reduction in the amount of pink and white and in one particular case
orange in the leaves as soon as the form of Nitrogen that can be readily utilized by the plants
has been made available to the roots.

Some varieties of Maples are not strong growers as opposed to other forms that
can "grow like weeds" for us. A lot depends on your climate as we get around
4-5 growth cycles or growth spurts in a year where we are. Whereas in areas of
the Pacific Northwest a grower may only get 2 growth cycles a year. What is
important is to know your Maple and have an idea as to how it is supposed to
look like once mature.

As for your situation I would need to know what kind of drip system are you using
and how long have you used that drip system on that Maple. Are their more than one
drippers used for the Maple in question and what volume of spray is being emitted.
With you using a drip system I would not advice you to use a commercial grade
fertilizer that is pelleted containing Nitrogen as your watering set up will not
incorporate the nutrients down into the soil soon enough. A liquid emulsion with
a drip system can burn the roots of the plant as you cannot nutrilize the fertilizer
fast enough, unless of course you use a half strength or less solution of a liquid
fertilizer versus water. If you want to use a liquid form of a fertilizer with Nitrogen
I would suggest a quarter strength solution with a conventional drip system (yes, that
is a definite generalization as a lot depends on your system itself and how much water
is being applied to the plant).

People can come back at me in regards to drip systems but I am "old school"
as I prefer bubbler heads running off a drip line or at least a dripper with
a three-prong spray head and more than one head to better apply the water
evenly over the better part of where the root system should be.

Some people are dead set against fertilizing with a granular or liquid
fertilizer but instead prefer to use a mulch of predominately pine or fir
ground bark which will help aeration of the soil and will still provide
some nutrients to your plant. Certainly not all of our quest to fertilize
our plants involves the incorporation of Nitrogen. In a lot of cases it is
the micro-nutrients that our plants may need and symptoms of nutrient
deficiencies are not always visible to us. Should your plant become
chlorotic then you have a problem as Nitrogen will mask the chlorosis
by a possible quick-fix greening up of the leaves but when the plant
becomes stressed the yellowing will show up all over again and can be
quite difficult to correct the next time.

In my mind too much emphasis has been placed on Nitrogen as a panacea for
fertilizer problems as our culprit may indeed be a Calcium, Iron or a perhaps
a Manganese deficiency instead should we have a deficiency at all and to be
honest, in Maples deficiencies are not all that common but in the San Joaquin
Valley we do on occasion see some nutrient deficiencies that many other areas
of the Pacific Northwest seldom ever see or ever have to endure.

For you a granular 0-10-10 with some micro-nutrients lightly sprinkled on top of
the soil a good distance away from the trunk of your Maple might not be a bad idea
for you considering that your mulch can act a fertilizer in its own way (no, I do not
plan to get overly technical here). The only form of liquid I could suggest is
also a 0-10-10 with some micro-nutrients in its content also. I would not use
a fertilizer with Nitrogen at all for your program.

The only times of the year I can recommend to use a fertilizer is in the Early
Spring either right at juvenile growth or during the first growth spurt and
during the Winter using a 0-10-10, especially for container grown plants.
In the ground a 0-10-10 fertilizer may not be a bad idea for you but that is
your choice depending on if your Maple does not color up well in the Spring
and the Fall and the factors are not solely due to climatic or environmental
conditions.

I do agree that in most cases a commercial fertilizer is not needed for Maples
but where we are located a low or no Nitrogen fertilizer supplement can be a
very handy tool for us.

Jim
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  #4  
Old March 16th, 2004, 09:07 AM
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mr.shep mr.shep is offline
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Location: San Joaquin Valley, California
Posts: 1,394
I've been out of the Maple game essentially for 9 years after my mentor in Horticultural plants
for just over 10 years Donald Kleim of the since defunct Henderson Experimental Gardens
passed away. A lot of you out there would not have several varieties of Maples today had it
not been for Don Kleim, either from his original imports of plants from Japan and elsewhere,
as well as the plants that he grew along and monitored of which some varieties later became
nursery trade introductions. The "old guard" in Maples worldwide know exactly who Don
Kleim was.

The problem that I now have is after awaking from a I really do not want to have anything to
do with ornamental plants stupor is that I've since learned other people whom I was fortunate
to know and talk to about Maples in years past have also since passed away. It appears I am
all alone now as I have no real backups in place for when I really "step in it" and could use
someone to either condemn me for being foolish or be a sounding board when needed for
when I write something based from first hand practical experience and no one likes my input
at all.

No matter what other college level degrees I may have been accorded I am an Agronomist
by trade, even though my specialty areas have seemingly always been Fruit & Nut trees and
Citrus. I will not go into detail in this forum as to who and what I am but I will let out a
secret now in that I've had a Pest Control Advisors license in Fertilizers ever since its inception
back in 1974.

I realize that fertilizing Japanese Maples is not something that many of you will need to deal
with any time soon, at least that is what my perception is based on what I know from years ago
until my re-awaking from my being brain dead towards a group of plants I have been growing
as a plant collector for over 20 years. It mattered not to me what others were doing in Maples
as I had my 100+ varieties to deal with and I was happy with what I already had and felt I did not
need any more for a long while. I did have 15 varieties come in to me recently to serve as a
rejuvenation of sorts but I just do not feel right about writing much on plants yet in this forum
or in the other forums offered by such a great host - UBC. It is going to take a while for me to
get back up to "speed" with Maples again. Essentially I fell in love with Maples and then fell out
of love with Maples and am now wanting to know if the marriage can still work or not. That is
where I am at today.

Jim
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  #5  
Old March 16th, 2004, 10:08 AM
Elmore Elmore is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: North Alabama USA
Posts: 344
"marriage"

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.shep
I've been out of the Maple game essentially for 9 years after my mentor in Horticultural plants
for just over 10 years Donald Kleim of the since defunct Henderson Experimental Gardens
passed away. A lot of you out there would not have several varieties of Maples today had it
not been for Don Kleim, either from his original imports of plants from Japan and elsewhere,
as well as the plants that he grew along and monitored of which some varieties later became
nursery trade introductions. The "old guard" in Maples worldwide know exactly who Don
Kleim was.

The problem that I now have is after awaking from a I really do not want to have anything to
do with ornamental plants stupor is that I've since learned other people whom I was fortunate
to know and talk to about Maples in years past have also since passed away. It appears I am
all alone now as I have no real backups in place for when I really "step in it" and could use
someone to either condemn me for being foolish or be a sounding board when needed for
when I write something based from first hand practical experience and no one likes my input
at all.

No matter what other college level degrees I may have been accorded I am an Agronomist
by trade, even though my specialty areas have seemingly always been Fruit & Nut trees and
Citrus. I will not go into detail in this forum as to who and what I am but I will let out a
secret now in that I've had a Pest Control Advisors license in Fertilizers ever since its inception
back in 1974.

I realize that fertilizing Japanese Maples is not something that many of you will need to deal
with any time soon, at least that is what my perception is based on what I know from years ago
until my re-awaking from my being brain dead towards a group of plants I have been growing
as a plant collector for over 20 years. It mattered not to me what others were doing in Maples
as I had my 100+ varieties to deal with and I was happy with what I already had and felt I did not
need any more for a long while. I did have 15 varieties come in to me recently to serve as a
rejuvenation of sorts but I just do not feel right about writing much on plants yet in this forum
or in the other forums offered by such a great host - UBC. It is going to take a while for me to
get back up to "speed" with Maples again. Essentially I fell in love with Maples and then fell out
of love with Maples and am now wanting to know if the marriage can still work or not. That is
where I am at today.

Jim
If not a marriage, how about a ... civil union? Better yet... a graft union.
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