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Growing Maples:  Updated 7-2-13

Contents:
1 - Growing Japanese maples in Hot Climates
2 - Growing Shantung maples
3 - Growing Azaleas in DF/W Area
4 - Growing Rhododendrons in Hot Climates
5 - My Landscape Plan
6 - Azalea Pictures
7 - Grafting Maples
8 - Growing Maples from Seeds
9 - How to Water Trees
- New 5-25-08


1 - Japanese Maples In Hot Climates

Japanese Maples are easy to grow in the hot mid-west if given shade and water. They are very adaptable to a wide range of soils and light. The only serious problems are from long periods of standing water or from long periods of drought or from early or late freezes or from too much sun.  The red leaf varieties are especially sensitive to too much hot sun and the small green leaf varieties handle the sun the best. The best site is under high shade with a north or northeast exposure but they will also grow in other locations. They have shallow roots but are not overly competitive and can coexist with many other plants or ground covers in the landscape. 

Many Japanese Maples reach a height of 14-20 feet with an equal spread. The dissectums generally reach 6 feet but can spread much more than this. All can be kept at six feet by pruning.  If you prune large branches It may take several years to look natural again, so only prune current year's growth for a natural look. Best time to prune is right after fall color through December when you can see all the branches and then make cuts to balance the growth.   Light pruning can also be done anytime but mid-May gives you the best chance of getting new growth.

Leaf color is affected by the amount of sun, moisture, nutrients or by the health of the root system. The same variety may even exhibit different colors even when grown nearby when there are differences in any of the above factors. In Japan there are many varieties that color differently in various parts of the country. Red-leafed varieties may get green from too much shade or too much fertilizer or from not enough water.  I have found that my best colors occur when there is 1-2 hours of sun with ample moisture, but drying out slightly between waterings.

An illustration of color variation from the lack of roots.  The Orangeola on the left has many roots while the one on the right is a barerooted Orangeola without a sufficient root system.

Newly planted maples need a good hand watering once a week, or more if in sun, the first year. Make sure that the root ball you planted is getting wet until the tree has grown roots out into your soil. If your maple fattens-up the trunk a lot in the fall or in the second year, it is a sign that it grew lots of new roots. They prefer to be moist during the hot summer with irrigation about every 4-5 days, but some varieties can stay healthy for up to two weeks without irrigation once they are established. All maples appreciate a consistent watering schedule. When temperatures are cool do not overwater, but let them dry-out a little, as this will encourage root growth which helps them when it does get hot. They like the sun when temperatures are below the mid-eighties and they tolerate the hot sun very well until it is consistently above the mid-nineties. High nighttime temperatures are also detrimental to all plants including Japanese maples, especially those in containers, as it deters them from manufacturing food from photosynthesis.

If your red-leaf Japanese maple leafs-out green in spring it is a sign that it is very dry or has a poor root system. Usually watering in winter is not needed, but they do lose a little water even when they are dormant, so water monthly in winter if it is dry.  In summer if you see some interior leaves change to fall color it means not all the roots are receiving moisture.

A mature Japanese Maple is rarely bothered by insects or disease. Sound gardening practices, such as good air-circulation, and good soil drainage should prevent any fungus problems. Copper based sprays or all-purpose fungicides may help with limbs that are dying but cannot be used during hot weather. All summer sprays must be applied early in the morning to prevent phytotoxicity.  Even the organic sprays are detrimental to Japanese maples during hot weather.  Always prune off dead or dying limbs immediately. I do not like groundcovers over my maple roots which may habor insects and rodents that could damage your Japanese maple.

Japanese Maples like morning sun but do fine as understory trees with high, dappled shade. Metro Maples has the varieties that perform well in those situations. They do not like heavy shade or being crowded by other plants. Some varieties handle the hot afternoon sun well but in very hot years you may get burn in late summer. Most can handle a few hours of midday sun as long as moisture is consistent. Be sure to water extra in late summer or during very hot periods, or before any sudden big change in temperature. Early morning watering is best as there is a time lag in getting the water to the leaves. Some of the red varieties do not hold color as well under heavy shade or too much hot sun. A few varieties need almost full-sun to color well, so grow these in pots then move to shade when it gets hot. I do not sell many of the varieties that must have this treatment. The most sun tolerant varieties have green leaves, such as Seiryu and Sango Kaku but the most sun tolerant is the species itself, Acer palmatum. Red leaf varieites cannot handle dry soils for very long when temperatures are above 95 degrees.  If your maple is getting too much hot sun, either water more often or dig it up and move it in November.

Make sure your maple is raised-up a few inches to a foot if you are planting in a low spot or have a water holding clay. Remember, they will not grow in water-logged soil. I like to mix-in lots of aged pine bark and compost to the soil, leaving the area raised-up about 6 inches or more. If your soil is really bad, either keep them heavily mulched, or you can plant them in raised beds of azalea mix (pine bark/peat moss) and then will be able to grow azaleas too.

All Japanese Maples can be container grown. It's best to repot your maple at least every two years, pruning the roots or using a larger pot, and giving them fresh well-draining potting soil. Container grown plants need good drainage and careful attention to watering. Check the drainage hole every now and then and make sure that it is not clogged-up. Every time you water there should be water running out of the bottom of the pot. November or February is a good time to repot. (For my prized maples I sift out the bark dust and the small and large particles, and mix in 50 percent aggregate.)  Fertilize lightly with a slow release fertilizer at half the recommended rate or monthly with a liquid at half, or less, the recommended rate depending on the season. Use gypsum for calcium if needed. Occasional use of Epsom salts, at the same rate as your fertilizer, can help release the nutrients to your maple. You might want to protect the roots by wrapping the pot, or move your plant into the garage, if temperatures go below 15 degrees for a long period.  Red leaf varieties grown in pots can have leaf burn even in shade when temperatures are continuously very hot for extended periods.

Japanese Maples in the ground do not need large amounts of fertilizer but do like small amounts in spring and fall, and very small amounts in summer. Fertilizer is not food but contain nutrients used to manufacture food through photosynthesis.  Maples must expend energy to process fertilizer so never fertilize a damaged tree.  Best times to fertilize are about 3 weeks before they start growing in spring, perhaps again in early May, and as soon as you think it has finally cooled-off in the fall. If your tree has been damaged from the summer heat, do not fertilize in the fall, but wait until the following spring. You will not burn them if you only use one-half teaspoon per gallon in summer. A balanced fertilizer, such as 13-13-13, with sulfur, boron, magnesium and the other micro-nutrients works well. Slow release is preferred. Use 1 tablespoon on small plants, 3 tablespoons on 4 to 6 foot plants, and about 7 tablespoons on large ones.  Organic fertilizers work very well but may decompose your potting soil too quickly. I have had good luck with cottonseed meal (slow release, high nitrogen), or fish emulsion with seaweed (nitrogen and micro-nutrients but not long-lasting). Root stimulators with some nitrogen and lots of phosphorus work very well on dissectums. This can also be used in September (when it cools-off) to help harden and fatten the branches. Despite what some people say, synthetic fertilizer does not kill the beneficial soil fungus. Rain also has nitrogen, especially in the city from the nitrous-oxide from automobile emissions.

Water your maples early in morning as there is a lag time in supplying the leaves with the moisture.

Micro-climates are areas that are different from the normal situation. Shade, fences or houses to block winds, and lots of vegetation to humidify and cool the area, all create a favorable micro-climate for your maple. Trees do not like sudden large swings in temperatures and it takes them a week or two to adapt.

Beware of squirrels in late summer chewing-off the bark which can kill the tree. I use cayenne pepper sprays mixed with a spreader sticker, so that it will last longer.

Japanese maples like a consistent amount of moisture. They do not like long periods of ample moisture followed by long periods of drought. Excessive spring rains or watering can reduce root growth which then lessens their ability to handle dry periods in summer, so whatever you do, do not stop watering in summer when they are used to being wet.  In the shade they can be grown on small amounts to large amounts of water but the water supply needs to stay consistent.

Twenty-Four Ways To Have Leaf Burn: 1. Lack of water, 2. Too much salts/fertilizers/dog urine 3. hot, dry winds, 4. late-freeze damage, 5. chemical or organic sprays on the leaves during hot summers.  Do not spray  when temperatures are above 80 degrees, 6. salty well water - all deep wells in my area contain too much salt to grow a Japanese maple, 7. damage to cambium layer of bark from weed eaters, squirrels, dogs, 8. sudden change in the amount  of hot sun, 9. very hot weather and hot nighttime temperatures causing roots to stop growing, 10. water-logged soil or mucky container mix,  11. grub worms chewing roots on small trees, 12. very high or low soil pH (<5.2 or >8.5), which could lead to micronutrient toxicity, 13. Not watering deeply at least once a month during droughts , 14. potassium deficiency can occur during droughts from 'good' irrigation water that has more sodium than potassium, or from excessive watering which will leach the potassium from the leaves, 15. a sudden, dramatic increase in temperatures for plants grown on the 'dry side' or plants grown with too much fertilizer and a lack of water, 16. several fungus like verticillum and antracnose can appear as burned margins or dead spots during cool weather, 17. nitrate excess without sufficient molybdenum, 18. ants or gophers destroying water penetration, 19. all ammonium nitrogen without nitrate nitrogen, especially in containers, may cause ammonium ion to become toxic especially in hot weather, 20. mature plants that have limited root growing space and hot weather, 21. Root bound containers or not watering thoroughly, which leaves many of the roots dry for too long.  22. Extended Texas heat waves with high nighttime temperatures will lead to root losses, then leaf burn.  23 - Extended periods of waterlogged soil or natural gas leak leading to a lack of air to the roots followed by hot temperatures.  24 - Cutting roots in summer or use of weed killers.

2 - ACER TRUNCATUM - SHANTUNG MAPLES:

Shantung maples are easy to grow. They are shade trees that like full sun to a half day sun but will even survive in shade. They seem to like slightly acidic sandy soils the best, but will grow quite well in heavy clay or alkaline soils. Shantung maples do not like being too wet. I let mine dry out between watering.  In the hot dry climate of North Texas your Shantung maple should live well over 100 years unless it is planted in an area that restricts root growth, such as a small courtyard or very small yard surrounded by foundation, driveway, or roads which may shorten its life expectancy.  The basic growing plan is to give them sun, lots of soil to grow in, consistent but not too often deep watering, and then just standing back and watching them grow.

Shantung maples grow every day. Even in winter they are growing roots when it's above forty degrees. To get fast growth they need sun, moisture, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and all 13 plant nutrients on a balanced and continuous basis.  Maximum growth will not be achieved if any of the nutrients are in short supply.  North Texas soils are usually only low in nitrogen but use of complete fertilizers will give your tree a more balanced nutrient availability.  A soil test is the best way to reveal shortages. What may look like nutrient deficiencies are usually the result of other problems like poor drainage, herbicide damage, soil compaction, root fungus, or from inconsistent moisture levels.  Over-watering may leach nitrogen and other nutrients from your soil, or produce a weaker root system which makes it harder for the tree to deal with extreme weather conditions when they arrise. 

Metro Maples is a leader in Shantung and has tested them in every way.  In the year 2006 the neglected Shantung out by Dick Price Road got permanent wilt from a two year drought. Permanent wilt means that even after watering the leaves were still wilting the next morning. It took over 2 weeks before the tree recovered, so be patient. Even as dry as it got, it did not lose any leaves or branches and it was as beautiful as ever in the fall (see picture under Shantung Maples, it is the close-up of yellow fall color). I do not suggest you let your Shantung get that dry as it probably was getting close to being seriously damaged.

Large trees in your yard are irreplaceable, so make sure they get water during droughts. Annuals, perennials, and even shrubs can be replaced, but mature trees might take 2 generations to replace! Large trees help to cool your house, saving you energy, and if you choose one like the Shantung maple it will cool your yard and enable you to use less water on your shrubs and lawn. My yard is about 10 degrees cooler than the neighbors treeless property. St. Augustine grass takes much less water in the shade. The best way to water is deeply and not too often. I find it takes me 3 to 5 hours from a single Rainbird shrub head to water a 20 foot tree in totally dry soil, which is about 500 gallons of water, but it might not get watered again for 2 weeks. Shantung maples are great street trees and can be planted 8 feet from your house. I do not think Shantung roots will tear-up a patio or sidewalk.

Most soils have enough nutrients although adding a complete fertilizer will improve growth. Good times for adding nitrogen are early March, and again in early May and September when it cools-off.  Temperatures and timing of fertilizer and water are everything to achieve maximum growth potential.  Do not fertilize them in summer.  Shantung are sensitive to nutrient imbalance so be careful when adding just one nutrient as deficiencies or toxicities will result.   Also, remember never to fertilize a tree that is damaged or overly-stressed, but wait until the following year.  Damaged trees for whatever reason will not usually look or act normal until the following year.

Shantung benefit from consistent watering until they are established, or during droughts, but too often people overwater them the first year. Do not water them every day! Once every 5 days between watering is plenty even with very high temperatures. Once established in one or two years, they like consistency, either once a week, bi-weekly, or longer between watering.  Stressed trees do worse when continued to be over-watered and can lead to death.  You know your tree is stressed if it losses its dark green color or has some burnt edges.  Keep them mulched and do not allow root competition from other plants in their root zone until they are established. Getting rapid shoot growth the first year in the ground may not be possible without rainy periods or a knowledge of fertilizing basics, but be assured that it is growing lots of roots getting ready for fast growth the next year. Wrapping the trunk prevents damage to young bark from the sun and weed-eaters. 

Dig a wide hole to break-up the soil which will help the roots to quickly grow out. Add some organic matter, sand and compost to a depth of 15 inches if your soil is workable or just use your native soil. Do not plant too deep. When the trunk at the base starts to increasingly widen, this is your soil level point. Young trees do not always have a noticeable root flare or may have just one large root. With age your Shantung will have many large roots all around the trunk base. I have never seen or heard of a Shantung maple having trouble with circling roots.  They should not require staking. I have planted a Shantung maple in a very windy spot in a sandy soil and while it is leaning a little away from the wind it has been fine. Growth will be thicker and slower in windy locations. Shantung maples have many fibrous roots, primarily within the drip line.  Replace washed-out soil that exposes roots around the base, as they will burn when exposed to the sun.

Shantung maples will look better if pruned at a young age. This maple has a tendency to grow very low branches and trunks. Prune-off low limbs, that are small, up to where bigger main branches start, around 3 or 4 feet is nice. Smaller branches below larger branches will not ever grow as fast and will stay smaller, and I feel that the first branches on a tree should be the largest ones for the best look.  Remove any small weeping branches that hang down to enable you to get close to your tree and for a cleaner look.

Shantung maples grow crooked when young and they seem to turn-out even better than the ones I've straighted! The picture below (left) is a Fire Dragon Maple that I selected to be the centerpiece of the new Maple Knoll garden. The 2 year old Fire Dragon Maple (right) is what it once looked like, a crooked tree with two leaders. The smaller leader now is a nice looking first branch and most of the bend has straightened-out.

Left - The same tree shown above, right, after one year's more growth, showing you what it looked like at the end of 2007.
Left - Not much growth in 2008 due to a large hail storm and lack of rain.  It now has a 25gal root system though and many more small branches.
Four years later here is the shape.  Compare to original photo shown again, right. The first 2 branches on the right were later removed to simplify the main low branches.
Left - Another year has past and this picture shows the view from the opposite side.  Now it's a 5 1/2" caliper tree.  'Fire Dragon'ģ has a tendency to grow 3 branches from a terminal, the terminal makes a large branch, and top 2 side branches make a small and medium branch, every other year.  This is a distinctive pattern I have not seen in other Shantung.

The natural shape produces many crowded branches with many leaders. Major pruning can be done right after leaf drop in December or again in early May/June. One inch branches pruned on a vigorous tree will be completely healed-over by the end of summer. I wouldn't worry about painting the cut unless the tree is under some kind of stress. If you prune at the wrong time and get excessive sap flow don't worry. In about 9 days the wound will be sealed enough to stop the sap flow.

Don't prune your Shantung Maple up too high too soon. At least two-thirds of the height of the tree should have branches. Far too often I am seeing elms, oaks, etc. that are being pruned way-off the ground leaving very little branches, and leaves, for photosynthesis. It is way too much shock for a tree at one time. Do not prune lower limbs on very old trees. Recently someone in Mansfield pruned-off all the huge old lower limbs on an old cemetary oak that will never heal over and will eventually result in the tree's death. Don't let anyone prune your tree without first making them mark the branches, showing you what they will do.

Be careful of weed killers around your trees. A Shantung was killed by the product Image.  Also be careful of using any foliar sprays when temperatures are above 80 degrees as damage may result from heat induced phytotoxicity.

Lastly, be careful not to scratch the young bark on the trunk or branches. Small wounds are not a big health problem but when the tree turns that area naturally black, as if painted, it can be unsightly. Don't let cats use your tree as a scratching post as it will leave black marks for several years.  Plant Shantung maples at the proper time for our 1 year guarantee.  We no longer guarantee trees planted in the months of May thru mid-September as this can be too stressful for them in our  hot climate.



3 - AZALEAS:

Sorry but I no longer have azaleas for sale. I need the time and water for the maples. Here's how I grow them:

Azaleas in the DFW area are easy to grow once you get the soil right. They require an acidic soil, 5.5 pH is good, and plenty of air to the roots. Both these requirements are satisfied with the use of pine bark in raised beds. Peat moss can also be mixed with the bark. They will not grow for very long in heavy alkaline soil. I take the plant out of the pot and set it on a few inches of mix, and then pile the mix around them. You will spend more on the planting mix than the plants, but at least there is no digging involved.

The second big problem is getting their roots to grow into your mix. The roots have been grown in containers and until the roots spread into the surrounding pine bark there is a chance of them drying out. Don't buy bargain plants that are extremely root-bound unless you are able to watch them often until they get established. Cut the roots on the bottom and spread them out before planting. Should they wilt you can water them with a hose. If they still wilt then the root ball is probable totally dry and you should let a hose drip on that plant for maybe an hour, or you can lift it up and dunk the roots in a bucket of water. By next summer they should be able to sustain themselves on the sprinkler system and not need as much attention.

Should the fall and winter be dry and warm they should be watered before any abrupt hard freeze. Azaleas, being evergreen, need moisture in the winter and if the pine bark is dry, or frozen, they will not be able to take the freeze as well. When the sun is shining, even when its cold, your azaleas need at least some moisture to keep their leaves from burning. Sudden drops in temperatures can cause the bark to split along the base of the plant when the azalea is getting hit by the sun. Therefore, the north side is the safest spot for them. Azaleas are very hardy though and bark split is not a common problem unless your plants are overfed or overwatered in the fall and therefor too vigorous right before the sudden cold.

Water your azaleas regularly in the summer for good growth. The plants in full sun will need the most. Wind also dries out the leaves making watering necessary. For best growth they will need a small amount of watering about every third or fourth day in the summer if it has not rained. I have some established azaleas in the hot afternoon sun in a peat/bark mixture which are watered just once a week.

Azaleas require little fertilizer. The pine bark has everything that they will need. However for faster growth and lusher looking plants you can fertilize with a balanced azalea food in April, May, June, and September. Too much nitrogen fertilizer is worse than none at all! You can burn the roots and foliage by over-fertilizing. Azaleas grown with lots of sun will need more fertilizer to keep them green. Note: Excessive watering can leach nutrients out of the leaves. The nicest ones Iíve seen in the area receive a product called Ironite once or twice a year. This product is safe to use. Since our water is alkaline this product helps to keep the bark acidic by supplying sulfur and it also really greens them up by supplying chelated Iron, some nitrogen, and other micro-nutrients. Without a soil test you will just have to judge how green the leaves are and apply Ironite when you think they could be a little greener. Cottonseed meal or Miracle Grow for Azaleas are good also.

Azaleas donít need pruning but if you like to shape them they should be pruned after flowering. This means May or June, depending on the variety. Every time you prune a branch you will get 3 or 4 side branches which will give you 3 or 4 more flowers. Long summer shoots can also be cut-back which will cause many side branches to form. Due not prune after about July 15 unless you donít mind pruning off the flower buds! Azaleas form their flowers buds in late summer to fall and hold them through the winter and bloom in spring. Many azaleas lose some of their old leaves in the Fall and this is normal. In October some of the old leaves will turn yellow or red before dropping. Also, some Azaleas, primarily the red ones, turn a dark purple color in winter and this is also normal and creates a nice contrast in foliage.

Since your azaleas are planted correctly you should not have any fungus or disease problems. In the shade you will not have any insect problems either. Azaleas in a sunny location might attract Whiteflies. These insects do not seem to bother azaleas in the shade. Whiteflies are very small white insects that fly around like gnats when disturbed. They can damage your plants and can be sprayed with Orthene. Do not use Dursban on azaleas. The environmentally safest solution is to use a dormant oil spray like Superfine in late winter which will prevent eggs from hatching. One possible fungus you might see is blossom-end rot. This only affects your blooms and does not kill the plant. Blossom-end rot starts as small brown dots on your flowers and within a few days the whole flower turns a mushy brown mess. Spray with products containing Bayleton as the flowers are just opening.

Azaleas are long-lived plants. There are some in Japan that are over 600 years old. Basically all they need is correct planting, a little water, and annual mulching. Try to keep the pine bark moist and they will do fine. After about 10 years they probable will need to be lifted and replanted, rasied-up again with fresh azalea mix. If your azalea is not vigorous, lifting and replanting may help. This is done in the fall or late winter.

4 - RHODODENDRONS IN HOT CLIMATES:

Azaleas are members of the rhododendron genus. Generally, Rhododendrons are more mountainous plants and like cool weather, whereas azaleas like it hot. Rhododendrons can be grown in Texas. You must select the right variety and plant them much higher-up than an azalea. Pure pine bark works well or mix in a little soil (about 10 per cent), but only if it is a sandy acid soil. Rhododendrons need a lot of air in their roots to stay alive in Texas. Try to create a cool and moist micro-climate. North and northeast exposure is the best. Only the R. hyperythrum hybrids can be grown like an azalea. Pine needles make great mulch. They prefer every other day waterings while getting established but later do fine in hot temperatures with a little sprinkel every 3 or 4 days on their shallow root system. Rhododendrons in Texas or the midwest, cannot take as much sun as an azalea but some morning sun is nice.

Some really good-doer Rhododendrons are: Roseum Elegans, Anah Kruschke, Black Eye, Yaku Angel, Anna Rose Whitney, Wheatley, Pink Pearl, Cynthia, Yaku Sunrise, Graf Zepplin, Catawbiense Grandiflorum, Nova Zembla and all the R. hyperythrm hybrids from John Thornton in Franklinton, LA, Pushetetappa Nursery. You'll probable have to mail order any of these plants but you might find some around town or in nurseries in Oklahoma or Arkansas. Sometimes Metro Maples has some in stock, so please check my catalog page.

Currently I don't have azaleas for sale due to a lack of well-water used to grow all of my maples. Sorry, I love the plants and they are great companion plants to maples, but I don't have the time or water right now.

5 - LANDSCAPE PLAN:

     


My ideal garden has mainly azaleas, rhododendrons, and Japanese maples under a canopy of large Shantung maples. (I do not want to garden in Texas in the hot sun so shade trees are essential.) These four basic plants all require similiar watering schedules and soils and are very low maintenance and look great together. I get tremendous spring and fall color. In summer I like only the quiet whispering of trees so I do not plant annuals. Tsuki Gardens, my display garden, is a very meditative place most of the time. I do not plant ground covers as they all become invasive. No vines either. Azaleas are the ground cover and paths are made of mulch. Grass is outlawed.  Not only does grass rob soil nutrients and water it requires mowing which pollutes the environment.  Rhododendron leaves provide texture as do the maples. I do not plant other small trees, like crape myrtles, because their roots are too aggressive. I do not plant other large trees, like cedar elm, becasue their roots are very aggressive and their limbs break in ice storms which then falls on my plants. This garden requires very little maintenance.  An occaisonal leaf and twig clean-up, mulching, or pruning, and watering faithfully is all that is routinely needed.  Sometimes plants are dug and reset either to respace them or to get more bark underneath the rhododendrons or azaleas.  Lastly I recommend to create focal points with plants or stones, water features, garden ornaments, benches, or trees in pots to keep things interesting for the eye. There are thousands of azaleas, rhododendrons and maples to choose from if you know where to look. WARNING - Maples, azaleas, and rhododendrons are addictive! To get started with serious gardening you should visit many gardens and find out which plants really get you excited. Then join a plant society where you can meet people with your same interest and they will be a big help in finding the really nice plants that you want. Finally, realize that your taste in plants may change throughout the years, and when they do you can dig up the plants you no longer love and give them to friends.

Places to see maples:

Places to see lots of maples besides Metro Maples are at Lendonwood Gardens, Grove, OK, the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens (they have many that are fifty years old), the Dallas Arboretum, and the SFA Mast Arboretum in Nacogdoches, Tx.

Following are some pictures of the azalea varieties in Metro Maples's display garden that were chosen from the 300 different varieties that I have grown: or visit:
The Rhododendron.org website to learn more about Rhododendrons.

6 - Azalea Pictures


7 - Grafting Maples

Japanese maples are usually propagated by grafting. Named cultivars do not come true from seed so a branch is cut from the cultivar and grafted onto a Japanese maple rootstock that was grown from seed. This way you will get the exact clone of the cultivar. Also, some Japanese maples will not grow without the use of a more vigorous, seedling-grown root-system. The rootstock of choice is Acer palmatum, the seedling grown Japanese maple, the one that is found in the wild and has been around for millions of years.

Here are the supplies that I use.  Medel Buddy Tape, which is 1" in length.  I cut this in half. This tape is stretchable.

Doc Farwell's Grafting Seal.

Tina 685 right-handed grafting knife.

 A 6 inch long healthy branch from a cultivar that has about 3 pairs of buds. This one happens to be the Coral Bark Maple.

 A seedling grown rootstock that has been kept in a warm place so is actively growing roots and is about ready to grow leaves.

 The basic plan is to attach this cultivar to a rootstock and keep it all from drying-out until the cuts heal.

The first cut will be about 1/2 inch long and slopes down to a point.
Each knife wiggle or change in cutting speed leaves an imperfection.
Turn the wood over and make another cut in a similar manner and parallel to the first.
Trim the end to that it is square across.
This is what it then looks like.
Position knife to cut down on the understock. You will cut about the same length as you did on the branch.

The understock should already be growing many new white roots.

Make the cut on the understock.
This is what it looks like. Gradually make your cut deeper into the wood.
Insert the branch into the understock and align. Check that it fits snug and lies flat.

Start putting the tape on. Stretch the tape a little and begin wrapping the cuts while keeping the tape from kinking. Wrap around 3 to 4 times to prevent air from drying-out the graft.

This is what the tape will look like.
Begin painting the top of the cut to keep air from entering and drying out the graft.
This is the finished Metro Maples side-graft which may begin new shoot growth in about 3-4 weeks. Keep growth on the understock pinched-off.

8 - Growing Maples from Seeds

These Caddo maple seeds were collected around the first of November. They were then put into this plastic bag with a little moist peat, then labeled with a permanent marker, and then stored in the vegetable crisper of my refridgerator until May. If they have germinated in the bag (shown), they are ready to plant. Usually they are planted before they germinate in the bag, or about mid-March. Plant seeds only 1/4 inch deep, or in this case very carefully put the roots into some peat and leave the small leaves above the soil line.
 

9 - How to Water Trees

Trees are a valuable part of your landscape.  They cool your house saving you money on your energy bills and cool your garden so both you and your flowers will be happier.  Trees benefit from irrigation when rainfall is not abundant.  Droughts can weaken your tree leading to pest problems or dying branches which can eventually lead to tree death.  Once you start watering you should continue to do so on a consistent schedule until rain comes.

The best way to water a tree is with soaker hoses or drip irrigation.  Sprinklers are less efficient.  Deep watering to a depth of 15 inches, once a week is ideal during the growing season when drought exists.  Watering deeper wastes water.  Watering more often can lead to disease and insect problems and is also harmful to your soil's health and leaches nutrients out of your soil.  Trees should be watered on their own schedule and separated from other garden plants so as to prevent over-watering.  Tree roots needs oxygen to function properly and too much water fills all the spaces in the soil, not allowing room for the oxygen.  Watering too often encourages shallow rooting which can lead to drought damage later on, and also wastes water.  Wetting the foliage may encourage insects and disease.

It is best to water the soil directly under the foliage and not past the drip line, except on newly planted trees.  Do not wet the trunk or water within 2 feet of the base of the tree, and do not wet the foliage.  The best time to water is at night followed by early evening.

Newly planted trees need water applied right over the root ball and a few feet farther out as well.  If you have built a water dam extending out a couple of feet from the original root ball then fill this up twice and do not water more often than every 3 days to get a tree established.

Trees should also be watered in winter, during droughts, as they also lose moisture when they are dormant.  Much less water is needed at this time and they should not be watered during very cold periods when soil temperatures are near freezing.

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