Planting a Japanese maple on a tile

jquast

Shohin
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This is an airlayer that I separated in 2009 and allowed to gain strength during all of 2010. It was planted in 1/3 lava, 1/3 pumice and 1/3 turface and at the time of separation from the mother tree it had developed a nice root spread.

I decided to try planting this Japanese maple on a 6 inch tile with the goal of trying to get the roots to fuse over time and develop a solid flat mass that can be seen on some of the older Japanese maples. The trunk is currently about ¾ inch above the root flair and about two feet tall. The back branch is there as a sacrifice to give the bottom part of the trunk some girth as well as feed the roots and pump them up and will be removed in one or two years time.
 

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jquast

Shohin
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With the tree growing in 1/3 lava, 1/3 pumice and 1/3 turface the roots developed a lot of ramification and not many strong thick roots. Also being an airlayer it was very easy to establish a radial root base as well as clear out everything from under the base of the tree.
 

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jquast

Shohin
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With the bottom of the tree cleared out I drilled a pilot hole for the ¾ inch drywall screw so that I would not split the trunk when attaching the 6 inch tile to the bottom of the tree. With the tree firmly attached to the tile, it was planted in a three gallon nursery pot with a fast draining mix. The intent is to plant this out in the ground later this fall which is why I elected to not use the inorganic mix that I had previously used.
 

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Stimmie1

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What I have found that works very well for Japanese Maples, is to plant them in the drip pan of a 10-12" flower pot with holes drilled in them. I was taught this from a person that specialized in JM. So I used his method and compared it to growing in a wooden box, and his method worked so much better. The flare of the trunk and roots was so much better than that of a wood box. So, now all of my decidious trees are in this type of pot. It still takes some time to develope, but the method is so much more effective. Even more effective than planting the JM in the ground.
 

sfhellwig

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So you are saying that you grow your deciduous stock in large shallow trays, not buried in the ground? Sounds not far from a grow flat, just not sure why you would have drastically better results with something not that drastically different. Do you drill a LOT of holes for air pruning of the root mass or is it simply a few holes for drainage turning the drip tray into a planting container? How deep are these trays? Some pots yield a bottom that is 3" deep, some are very shallow. Since you say this is from someone who specializes in JM I would like to know how shallow container growing could possibly beat ground growing unless you are addressing nebari development and not size/girth added in a season. If the results are true I would follow suit, just sounds counter to what is usually suggested.
 
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