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Young potted Japanese Maple---Was this a good deal for $6?

I brought home this "bargain" late fall. I figured for $6, it would be my "practice" JM. You see, I want to have a couple of JM growing in pots. So I figured for that price, I could repot, prune and learn how to look after a potted JM properly before I ventured out and purchased a larger and more expensive specimen. Can you point me in the right direction?


I believe that this JM is potted a bit too deep. Should root flare be slightly exposed? I understand that JM should be repotted while dormant. We are hovering around freezing temperatures now. May have to wait until early spring. I will remove all soil and plant into 511. Don't know anything about root pruning nor pruning of JM. Is there a good article or video that you know of?


I purchased this from a large garden nursery plant sale. No name tag on the small ones. I'm thinking it is grown from seed because I don't see any root graft. Do you agree? Does that mean it is an inferior quality since it wasn't grafted?


Can we dig the pot into the soil for overwintering?












Comments (19)

  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    And a few more pictures:

    After removing an inch or so of soil, I found the roots:

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    $6 is always a good price for a JM!! Even gawky looking ones. Can't even find a tiny 4 incher for that price around here. btw, this IS a grafted maple.....the graft union is very obvious in the above photo :-) And no, a non-grafted or seedling maple doesn't mean it is 'inferior'......only that it is not a named form, nothing more or less.

    You don't have to wait until the tree is dormant to repot.........or up pot. I do so whenever I get the trees or shortly thereafter at any yime of year. If you don't wish to repot now you can just heel in the container into the ground over winter. You do want to wait until dormancy for root pruning but there is likely no need for any of that at this time. Nor any pruning. It needs a few years on it before you start making any big changes. Consider it to be just a gawky adolescent that needs to grow into itself a bit :-))

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
  • mblan13

    There is a ton of info on root pruning, just google it. Bonsai websites will generally be the most complete and accurate. As gardengal posted, no need to do that at this time. Plenty of time to read up on root pruning and such. I recommend this Trees in containers

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked mblan13
  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    Good to hear I got a good buy! I guess I'll never know what kind of JM it is, but time will tell ( most likely what it is not, rather than what it is).

    So the graft union is approximately where the green band is in the photo above? Good to know I don't need to root prune yet and that I can repot at any time. So it is root pruning that should be done during dormancy. No top pruning either because it is too young? Doesn't it need to be kind of shaped in the spring?

  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    mblan13, I have looked a bit on gardenweb regarding root pruning. Found some threads, but didn't really understand it. I will google it and research it this winter. Thanks for linking the thread. It looks awesome. I wasn't aware of it. Any threads that Al starts are always great (and need to be read multiple times)!

  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    that's a bargain!..I've never grown a JM in a pot so I don't have any advice for you..just so you know - almost all of mine had no root flare when I bought them..but I removed the soil around the base of the trunk when I planted them..

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis
  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    Isn't the root flare just the point where the trunk meets the roots? I guess it wouldn't look like much in a young plant? I am excited to see what this one will look like when it is a bit larger. I hope to train it to grow more symmetrical. I guess that's where the pruning comes in. Good that you removed the excess soil around the base of the trunk. I will make sure to do the same!

  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    the trunk shouldn't look like a telephone pole at the surface of the soil..it should have a wider base and several of mine have some roots on the surface of the soil..I've read that's common for maples..maybe ask Karin if she can take some pics of the bases of her potted JMs..hers are doing well..it's so nasty here..cold, raining and dark..it's making me lazy..lol

  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    "the trunk shouldn't look like a telephone pole at the surface of the soil..."

    I haven't really looked at the trunk of many Japanese maples. My own Crimson Queen is wider at the bottom because that is where it is grafted and then it flares out where the root flare is.

    I think Karin's JM have come from seedlings. So if they widen at the base of the trunk, then it certainly won't be because of the graft.

    Cold day here too. Rain? Well, we got snow! Would you like to trade?

    And I still have hostas to put away!

  • popmama

    It looks a bit like the Inaba Shidare I got last year for a steal. I think $6 is a great deal and will make a good experiment.

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked popmama
  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    trading snow for icy rain?..I think I hate snow more lol..but your plants are probably better off..the news showed broken limbs and power outages here (thankfully not me)..I like to see roots growing at the base of the tree..like this beech to the right of Fragrant Blue..to me it looks natural..I couldn't find a pic of the base of any of my Japanese maples..when I moved in one of my first jobs was removing too much mulch from around my trees..the neighbor told me when they put it up for sale they spread a truckload of mulch over just about everything..I gave lots away..to my niece and several neighbors..

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis
  • stuartlawrence (7b L.I. NY)

    "It looks a bit like the Inaba Shidare I got last year for a steal. I think $6 is a great deal and will make a good experiment."

    May I ask what the differences are between Inaba Shidare and Crimson Queen?

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked stuartlawrence (7b L.I. NY)
  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    LOL!! At that stage of development, ALL red leaf weeping dissectums will look alike!! And there is very little that will differentiate them once established and more mature!

    The most noticeable difference will be in growth habit. CQ grows quite slowy but can get pretty wide and forms a spreading mound over time. IS is more upright in habit, more rapidly growing and with less of a spread.

    Young trees side by side will be virtually indistinguishable.

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    Thanks gardengal48 for the info!

    I had a look at the 2018 prices for JM at a large nursery half an hour away from me. Yikes! I hadn't looked at JM prices in ages. Now I wish I had picked up another $6 one. And actually my husband and I (at the same sale) were deciding on whether to purchase a $40 red dissectum JM (named, but don't remember now). It looked really nice. Didn't purchase it because I figured I had a lot of learning to do regarding container trees and didn't want to kill it. Should have snatched it up then and there! It was the only one left. Darn!!! Oh well. But now I am more knowledgeable thanks to you all!

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    Yes, that's why everyone is complimenting you on your bargain!! 1 gallon named JM's start at $29.95 here and go up, depending on cultivar. NOID or seedling JM's can go for less but still........any way you look at it, $6 is a bargain!!

    Just an FYI, but one of the last JM's I purchased this season was a tiny little 4" start (only 8" tall) of 'Peve Starfish'.......for $19.95!!

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    I see what you mean gardengal48! Eight inches tall for $19.95! Wow! I looked it up. Looks like 'Peve Starfish' is a unique one! Very pretty. Good luck with it. (Hoping to see pictures of yours sometime.)

    I think I will be going back to that sale next year. But you know what that's like---you never know what is going to be available late in the season---and now that I got "smarter," they won't have any JM!

  • Mens Tortuosa(5b Omaha, NE)

    "Isn't the root flare just the point where the trunk meets the roots?"

    Just to be clear, a root flare is the point where multiple roots extend out radially from the stem/trunk. In young plants, this spot may not be so obvious, and one may have to choose where the root flare will be and trim away roots above that spot. One thing that I see a lot, and I'm not sure why, is that there will be one root that is higher than the others. To give you an example, here is a picture of a root that I will be removing at the end of this winter.


    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked Mens Tortuosa(5b Omaha, NE)
  • stuartlawrence (7b L.I. NY)

    "One thing that I see a lot, and I'm not sure why, is that there will be one root that is higher than the others. To give you an example, here is a picture of a root that I will be removing at the end of this winter."

    I've seen this top root on several of my plants. If nature intended for a root to be there than it definitely serves a purpose. If the top root is not causing any harm to the tree then I would leave it be. Just my 2 cents.

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked stuartlawrence (7b L.I. NY)
  • val rie (7a)

    Nice acquisition, hosta! Let's see this baby grow..

    newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada thanked val rie (7a)

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