Seedlings Wilt When Collected

QuantumSparky

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I took the opportunity to collect some random Oak, Maple, and Sycamore seedlings about 2-4" tall. Regardless of how I go about it, they always start to wilt heavily once I get them into potting soil and moistened. I take them with basically all the roots intact and keep some of the native soil in there. They are transplanted within 1 or 2 minutes of being collected so the roots aren't dried out. Any ideas as to why they instantly wilt after potting?
 

BrianBay9

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I had a pot full of sprouted acorns, waited until late summer to give them a bit of maturity, then divided them into individual pots. I lost half of them, despite gentle, minimal root untangling. With another pot I waited until the second year and they all survived. Don't know why really.
 

Wulfskaar

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I had the same thing with a 4" sweet gum. I've got a few more that I wanted to transplant to pots, but have been reluctant because of this very issue. If I don't do it soon, they will be weed whacked. I might try to keep a lot more of the soil they grew in this time.
 

sorce

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I checked the moon phase I relocated a maple, it was a waxing crescent moon. One mark against the Waning moon. That was ground to ground though.

Are they dying?

Cuz that thing wilted near dead but came back.

Are you watering enough?

I wouldn't be afraid to keep em in a bucket so the soil is half wet for a week....full sun too!

Sorce
 

Tieball

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I keep seedlings dug up very wet. It’s generally shocking to the entire seedling. I almost always soak seedlings….soil and all….in a pan of water for at least an hour before putting in a container. And then I keep the mix very moist for several days. No seedlings lost yet.

I di keep seedlings in filtered sun for about a week to ten days before they get full sun. With full sun….I also keep the soil moist.

I move seedlings from soil to the same soil…..just a container. I may change to a substrate the next season if appropriate or desired. My initial intention of a seedling is growth. Healthy growth….not what looks attractive in a container.
 
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QuantumSparky

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I checked the moon phase I relocated a maple, it was a waxing crescent moon. One mark against the Waning moon. That was ground to ground though.

Are they dying?

Cuz that thing wilted near dead but came back.

Are you watering enough?

I wouldn't be afraid to keep em in a bucket so the soil is half wet for a week....full sun too!

Sorce
The recent ones aren't dead at all but one of them went almost completely limp under the weight of its leaves. Is it alright to pinch off some leaves at this point so it focuses on rooting or is that too much shock?
 

Wulfskaar

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@QuantumSparky

You might check out this thread I made not long ago (Liquidambar Weirdo). I was advised to put it in shade and keep moist to keep the leaves from drying out. One suggestion (which I did not do) was to put a dome over it to keep it humid until it regains enough strength to hold up the leaves. I was also advised NOT to remove leaves because the plant needs them.

I kept mine out of direct sunlight except for a couple hours in the morning and I've kept it pretty moist. With the heat wave this week, it wilted a bit again, so I'm still really fighting to keep this thing alive. It's still kickin' at this point.
 

QuantumSparky

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@QuantumSparky

You might check out this thread I made not long ago (Liquidambar Weirdo). I was advised to put it in shade and keep moist to keep the leaves from drying out. One suggestion (which I did not do) was to put a dome over it to keep it humid until it regains enough strength to hold up the leaves. I was also advised NOT to remove leaves because the plant needs them.

I kept mine out of direct sunlight except for a couple hours in the morning and I've kept it pretty moist. With the heat wave this week, it wilted a bit again, so I'm still really fighting to keep this thing alive. It's still kickin' at this point.
Good advice there, thanks! I have been on the fence about using some sort of humidity dome (I have a few options in the recycle bin) but every seedling guide says to remove any covering once the tree sprouts so I figured humidity domes were mainly just for seed propagation. I'll keep it moist and get some H2O2 mix in there for fungus.
 

uk_chris

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I had a pot full of sprouted acorns, waited until late summer to give them a bit of maturity, then divided them into individual pots. I lost half of them, despite gentle, minimal root untangling. With another pot I waited until the second year and they all survived. Don't know why really.
I did exactly this with Quercus Ilex seeds, 6 in compost, 6 in perlite. The 6 that I untangled from compost died, the 6 from perlite survived. I think the looser particles of perlite meant less shearing of fine side roots when separating.

Pricking out seedlings to pot on always leads to some limpening in my experience but I guess the shoots are very green and therefore no woody tissue to hold them upright if there's a break in the water supply.
 

Shibui

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At what stage are you transplanting the seedlings? For some people seedling means just germinated, for others it may mean anything up to a year or 2 old.

I transplant lots of seedlings. Wilting straight after transplant is normal and probably inevitable for really young ones that still have weak stems. Seedlings are normally much more resilient than older specimens so they can recover from more root damage. The vast majority will soon recover and start growing again, often without any intervention.
I would usually take the opportunity to cut roots at seedling transplant stage rather than trying to collect all roots intact. First transplant is an ideal opportunity to remove vertical roots to promote laterals that are needed for bonsai. Seedlings seem to recover much better from this than the same tree when it is older.

Very young seedlings are so floppy that water on the leaves will make them bend over, even if not transplanted. They just pop back up as the water evaporates so appearance of wilting is not always a problem.

Humidity for a few days will definitely help recovery. The reason it is removed for most seedlings is the risk of fungal attack is higher where humidity is high for long periods. You should only need extra humidity for transplanted seedlings for a couple of days. Growth of both roots and top is so rapid in young seedlings they should be fine after a few days.

I am surprised at the number of bad experiences with transplant of quercus seedlings here. The older they get the more they seem to resent root pruning but I now routinely clip the emerging root as acorns germinate which stops the long tap root developing and promotes lots of laterals. Even 1-2 yo seedlings of Q. robur transplant without any problem here, even if the roots are cut back and bare rooted.
 

QuantumSparky

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At what stage are you transplanting the seedlings? For some people seedling means just germinated, for others it may mean anything up to a year or 2 old.

I transplant lots of seedlings. Wilting straight after transplant is normal and probably inevitable for really young ones that still have weak stems. Seedlings are normally much more resilient than older specimens so they can recover from more root damage. The vast majority will soon recover and start growing again, often without any intervention.
I would usually take the opportunity to cut roots at seedling transplant stage rather than trying to collect all roots intact. First transplant is an ideal opportunity to remove vertical roots to promote laterals that are needed for bonsai. Seedlings seem to recover much better from this than the same tree when it is older.

Very young seedlings are so floppy that water on the leaves will make them bend over, even if not transplanted. They just pop back up as the water evaporates so appearance of wilting is not always a problem.

Humidity for a few days will definitely help recovery. The reason it is removed for most seedlings is the risk of fungal attack is higher where humidity is high for long periods. You should only need extra humidity for transplanted seedlings for a couple of days. Growth of both roots and top is so rapid in young seedlings they should be fine after a few days.

I am surprised at the number of bad experiences with transplant of quercus seedlings here. The older they get the more they seem to resent root pruning but I now routinely clip the emerging root as acorns germinate which stops the long tap root developing and promotes lots of laterals. Even 1-2 yo seedlings of Q. robur transplant without any problem here, even if the roots are cut back and bare rooted.
Not sure what age they are, I got permission to collect from land that isn't mine so the only info I have on them is observational.
 

QuantumSparky

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20210617_183245.jpg
The one in the larger chamber is the one I'm talking about. I had to lean it sideways to accommodate the taproot but before I plucked it, the leaves were basically sticking upwards at 45 degree angles. The stem looks fine but the leaves went all floppy. The others are looking much better after soaking up some water - the center one had been floppy at the stem.
 

QuantumSparky

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The seedlings will go into shock when they have their tap root cut. It's best to wait untill they go dormant to collect and repot.
What if I dig the taproot out with the seedling and let it get established, and then start trimming the taproot over the course of 3 or 4 repottings?

As a side note, is it bad to pot a seedling with a long taproot with the root horizontally? For example if the pot is not deep enough for the taproot, and I'd have to "fold" the taproot around. I use that word very loosely.
 

JackHammer

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Good advice there, thanks! I have been on the fence about using some sort of humidity dome (I have a few options in the recycle bin) but every seedling guide says to remove any covering once the tree sprouts so I figured humidity domes were mainly just for seed propagation. I'll keep it moist and get some H2O2 mix in there for fungus.
We are starting to get some warm days. I wouldn't recommend a cover, you have some good potential to cook your plants.
 

Pitoon

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What if I dig the taproot out with the seedling and let it get established, and then start trimming the taproot over the course of 3 or 4 repottings?

As a side note, is it bad to pot a seedling with a long taproot with the root horizontally? For example if the pot is not deep enough for the taproot, and I'd have to "fold" the taproot around. I use that word very loosely.
If you wait till they go dormant you can dig them up with no problem. The seedlings that grow in the forrests usually send out really long tap roots with a few side roots. You really don't want to repeatedly continue messing with the roots. Dig them up one time and let them get established. I usually tag the trees I want to dig up and then go back in late winter to get them.

All these were pulled when dormant and established now.

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sorce

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The recent ones aren't dead at all but one of them went almost completely limp under the weight of its leaves. Is it alright to pinch off some leaves at this point so it focuses on rooting or is that too much shock?

You can....

But I got all my bets on the container!

Black Plastic is on a far extreme end of useful for me, plus the smallness.....

People talk about "overpotting" being a problem, but I think just like Fishtanks, the larger the "ecosystem", the less harder it is to maintain.

Sorce
 

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