Tuesday, June 20, 2006
japanese maple update #2
my japanese maple has really defied the odds. it's placed in hot dry sunny spot, with average soil, and a venegeful dog....but it's thriving to say the least. i think the dog had really given it the pruning it needed last fall....but anyhow, this is for ngrish, who asked me about the maple.
japanese maples tend to do best in well drained, and fairly rich soil. if the ground does not drain well, i might amend the soil with peat moss and/or sand, and add some compost or other NATURAL fertilizer like manure (you may risk chemical burn with chemical fertilizer and i just dont like chemicals period). i have heard they prefer acidic soils so if you do go the chemical fertilizer route you can get plant food for azaleas and rhododendrons.
i would clear the area around the maple and mulch thickly to keep the roots cool and retain moisture. we mulch the entire area around the maple every year (the mulch turns into soil and is great compost the next year), and do not have any plants around the tree.
i don't know where your parents live, but here in michigan, the summer does tend to get a bit toasty during the day so i usually water in a hot dry spell 2x per week, putting the hose on a bit more than a trickle and leaving it at the base of the tree for 15 minutes to saturate the surrounding ground.
i do know that japanese maples love dappled shade, although mine is in full hot sun and still does well but mine is older and well established. the leaves tend to get fried during the full hot sun of summer and this year i am playing around with putting up a shade cloth on those really toasty days during mid day. i would suggest this to your parents if the tree is in full sun and young.
the last thing i would do is prune it in the fall to get rid of any dead branches, and any small branches coming out of the trunk of the tree that is unneeded, etc. my dog this this for me, and overpruned a little.
hope this helps, as i am just a mere gardener and trying to nurse this poor thing back to health. japense maples are sooo expensive that i would do anything to save mine! so, ngrish, hopefully your parent's tree will be okay!