Summer is Upon Us

Hello Japanese Maple Fans,

Summer is just about here. And just like us reaching for the sun screen and the wide-brimmed hats, you need to make sure your Japanese maples are prepared, too. 

Probably the most important thing is mulch. Mulch protects the roots from heat in the summer, by helping to retain moisture and of course by keeping the hot sun directly off the rootball of the tree. By the way, mulch also protects the roots in winter, too. 

Are the trees mulched with wood mulch? Ideally, 1/2" pieces with some smaller and some bigger pieces, and piled on to a depth of 2-3". The mulch that you might find on our trees when they arrive at your door might not be sufficient. Is it the small (1/8th") pieces of wood that look very uniform is size? This is a cheap mulch our suppliers use. It's better than nothing, but it's not great. Mainly it's a very cost-effective mulch for wholesale nurseries to utilize but for you, the home gardener, we need to upgrade this if possible. And usually, if you can't find something in bulk at a landscape supplier, you can usually find bags of wood mulch at a garden centre.

If you can't find the right mulch, what are some other mulches? There's those coco disks. I've never used them but I know some nurseries do. You can also "bonus mulch" using the foliage of other plants. I suggest already having a mulched plant but then also taking advantage of placing plants beside which can shade the tree's rootball with it's leaves. I do this around our nursery. Another mulch is bark nuggets. Not great but better than nothing. Or straw, also not great but better than nothing. Get the picture? Some mulch is better than no mulch.

Other things to keep in mind for summer include possibly relocating where your potted trees are. You may need to make adjustments. Perhaps the location you absolutely love having you maple in just gets too hot by July. Move it. The long term health is more important that the most optimal viewing location. I sometimes get lulled into leaving my trees in the wrong spot. Until I see leaves getting crispy! Oops.

Finally, watering. Hot days are very challenging. Containers get hot and in turn they make the roots hot and the trees uses up the water in the container. Perhaps too fast, in order to protect itself. Our watering schedules may be drastically different during a hot spell compared to late April or in September. Amount of sun, container material, container size, tree size, the quantity of water you normally give your tree are all factors which come into play. Again, don't hesitate to move your tree to a location that gets less sun in the day, even if only during the hottest days. If it's a newly planted tree, it needs frequent waterings in the first year or so.  Since the tree cannot draw from the surrounding soil since it's not well established, the tree is in danger of getting thirsty fast during a hot period. Japanese maples are like all newly planted trees, they need some "babying" during the first year or so.

Stay safe in the summer sun and heat, and keep your trees safe, too. 



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