Feeding a Japanese Maple

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Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  Treekovsky on Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:51 pm

Hi all-

First of all, this is my first post and I'm happy to be here! I've got a great little Japanese Maple that I'm sure I'm going to kill. Crying or Very sad Although I am ready to do my very best NOT to!!!

My maple is my first tree. I love Japanese Maples but live in an apartment - can't plant one or anything. So I went the bonsai route. On the drive home after buying him I played some Tchaikovsky and he seemed to like it. So I named him Treekovsky. So FYI that's where my screen name comes from, I don't consider myself a tree prodigy in the least!

Ok, enough intro, my question: I've read a few things about fertilizers and the guy I bought the tree from tried to hard sell me on SuperThrive. I read a SuperThrive post on this forum and I'm glad I didn't bite. I've also read that you should NOT fertilize a Japanese Maple. I'm taking away that all I need to do is water it? (well, we're talking bonsai, "all I need to do" here means in terms of sustaining it).

I've ordered some books and I'm ready to dive in head first (but cautiously, I love my little guy). But for now, any advice on what I need to feed him?

Treekovsky
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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  bucknbonsai on Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:43 pm

how do you plan to care for/store your tree during the winter to keep it protected? It needs some nutrients, but with maples more so than other species you need to avoid chemical fertilizers as they often contain salts that can lead to brown leaf edges. Im not sure what kind of mix its in but if it has enough organic matter you may not need to use additional fertilizer.

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  drgonzo on Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:48 pm

maples need to be outside, they are an outdoor tree. They will die inside an apartment. do you have a balcony upon which it can be kept?

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  Treekovsky on Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:54 pm

I do have a balcony. The sun is behind / beside us most of the day, I believe the porch only gets about 3 hours of direct sun per day. I was told that would be a good environment for a Japanese maple, as long as I keep it out of direct sunlight when the temp rises to 90+. I have a shady corner on the porch that I don't believe ever gets full sun. Regarding winter, I was told that the tree could tolerate temps down to about 8 degrees as long as I kept it good and watered (and in Texas 8 degrees is possible, but not extremely likely). I also read that it should be placed on the ground when it's freezing - does that sound right?

If I'm missing something or you have better advice please let me know! Smile

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  drgonzo on Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:57 pm

In texas you should be able to keep it on your balcony year round, slack back on watering in the winter, just keep the soil evenly moist. Japanese maple needs a cold dormancy, loss of leaves, and temps below 40F. I have relatives north of Austin and it gets pretty cold up there but depending upon where you are in TX satisfying the plants dormancy requirement could be more problematic.
-Jay

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  JimLewis on Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:25 pm

You WILL need to fertilize. If you are worried about "chemical" fertilizers causing leaf burn (and I have never seen evidence of this) you could use a fish emulsion, diluted as per directions on the bottle.

And everyone please note: ALL fertilizers are "chemical" fertilizers. Organic/inorganic are better descriptors.

Could we see a picture of your little tree? And the soil it is in?

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  drgonzo on Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:46 pm

JimLewis wrote:You WILL need to fertilize. If you are worried about "chemical" fertilizers causing leaf burn (and I have never seen evidence of this) you could use a fish emulsion, diluted as per directions on the bottle.

I experimented with fertilizer this year and experienced the worst salt burns on my tree leaves yet, this was primarily due to using fish and seaweed emulsion almost exclusively. Unbeknownst to me and not indicated on the bottle, is the fact that fish emulsions are full of salt. ..They don't tell you that....additionally nothing is chelated, and thus all the micro's need to be metabolized by soil micro organisms in order to be made available to the plant, a tricky feet when grown in 100% inorganic substrate. So I also experienced a whole rainbow of Micro nutrient deficiencies as well as terrible salt burn, The bottle of fish/seaweed emulsion was relegated in fall to being poured out over the compost heap and good riddance.

I now use and highly recommend Urea free fertilizers such as Dyna-grow and "grow more" Orchid fertilizers and have had shockingly good results with both.
-Jay

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  Treekovsky on Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:55 pm

I can post a picture tomorrow possibly. It's just a stick right now but he's my buddy. I'm not sure about the soil, it came in a little thin plastic plant container and I don't know how to plant a bonsai (yet?) so I just had them put it in a pot for me. I'm not sure what type of soil they used, I just didn't even think to ask. They're a miniature tree company that's been around for nearly 50 years so I thought they knew what they were doing and just trusted them with it. I could call sometime and ask if it's important to know.

Regarding fertilizers, I don't know left from right. I picked up Naka's Bonsai Techniques I and saw some stuff in there on SuperThrive. I don't want to revive the SuperThrive thread archived on this site, but I see Naka does actually recommend it in certain situations. It gets confusing though, one source I read says to fertilize after a transplant to help the tree pull through the shock, others say don't fertilize for 2 months after a transplant, and I'm not even sure what constitutes "fertilizer" (for instance is SuperThrive a fertilizer or just some chemical treatment not technically classified as a fertilizer in the traditional sense?), etc etc.

Thanks for everyone's comments by the way!

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  John Quinn on Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:36 am

Superthrive is not fertilizer. You can use any store bought soluble fertilizer and follow directions on the package for dilution, e.g. Miracle Grow, Peters, etc. Fertilize every two weeks or so in the actively growing seasons.

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  coh on Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:04 am

Jay, I know you've mentioned the "good results" you've had with dyna-gro on other threads. I wonder if you'd say a little more about what you're seeing? I remember from previous discussions that you switched pretty late in the summer (or early fall), so I wouldn't think you'd really be able to fully evaluate any benefits until the next growing season - for most hardy trees, anyway. Or are you seeing improvements with tropicals?

Treekovsky - welcome, please do post a photo of the maple when you can. As John noted, superthrive is not a fertilizer. Actually, if you've read through some of the older threads, you'll see that no one really knows what it is - the label doesn't list the ingredients. Mostly B-vitamins, probably, and other hormones/auxins (maybe). Some swear by it, others at it. I bought the smallest bottle this year at the urging of some club members and have been using it when repotting, but can't say it's done anything beneficial. Probably won't replace it when I run out.

Chris

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  drgonzo on Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:48 am

Chris

Indeed the results I'm seeing are with tropicals, a few of which I've had for many years and have NEVER looked this good through winter. My Bougy clones have put on 18 inches of growth since coming indoors in september and everything is a beautiful dark green, not the pale wan looking winter foliage I was so used to over the years.

Seeing as I'm growing in pure turface and everything is still very actively growing in the short light of january, I've become a true believer in these fertilizers, especially after having tried basically everything else. Some of this is no doubt because the N content is instantly available to the plants and doesn't require micro-organism involvement as Urea forms of nitrogen do. And every micro is chelated.

Also (and this is a bit esoteric) I can smell the plants for the first time ever. After I fertilize them all I start getting whiffs of chlorophyl, like fresh cut grass, its faint but its there. Usually its such a struggle to get the plants through winter and this year everything is just booming...I think its my fertilizer. I look forward to working with it on all the deciduous trees this summer!
-Jay

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  bucknbonsai on Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:48 am

Jay, I know this doesnt relate to japanese maples but in terms of tropicals that you brought up... I saw your pictures of your tropicals in the sunroom on another thread. I use a sunroom with no supplemental light, and I also use a basement with 4foot bulbs on 24hrs a day. Do you feel that the longer daylength that the bulb gives you (even though its weaker light) is better than short intense daylength of the sunroom, or vice versa? thanks

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  drgonzo on Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:13 am

bucknbonsai wrote:Jay, I know this doesnt relate to japanese maples but in terms of tropicals that you brought up... I saw your pictures of your tropicals in the sunroom on another thread. I use a sunroom with no supplemental light, and I also use a basement with 4foot bulbs on 24hrs a day. Do you feel that the longer daylength that the bulb gives you (even though its weaker light) is better than short intense daylength of the sunroom, or vice versa? thanks

Buck
I honestly don't know enough about Sunlight luminosity vs grow light wattage to answer that question accurately. I DO know that plants take rest periods of non-photosynthetic activity even with 24 hours of continuous light exposure, so you can save yourself a few bucks and shut them off (or change the timer) to give them an 8 hr rest daily. I used to grow a lot of plants under fluorescents and I did notice that tubes with a color temperature near the 5000K's (blue) produced better foliage growth.

-Jay

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:10 pm

I experimented with fertilizer this year and experienced the worst salt burns on my tree leaves yet, this was primarily due to using fish and seaweed emulsion almost exclusively. Unbeknownst to me and not indicated on the bottle, is the fact that fish emulsions are full of salt. ..

I do NOT want to start a debate about various fertilizers (those are about as useless as debates about soil). BUT I have been using fish emulsion fertilizers on bonsai and according to label directions for more than 40 years. I have never -- ever -- seen any leaf burn attributable to it. I do not use seaweed extract fertilizers.

I should note that the fish emulsions (Alaska brand) I use come with NO micronutrients in them, so chelation or the lack thereof is immaterial. I do add a full complement of micronutrients to the bottle as soon as I open it.

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  coh on Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:07 pm

JimLewis wrote:I should note that the fish emulsions (Alaska brand) I use come with NO micronutrients in them, so chelation or the lack thereof is immaterial. I do add a full complement of micronutrients to the bottle as soon as I open it.
I've seen this before and always wondered how it's possible that a fertilizer made from fish can have no micronutrients? Maybe the amount is too small to measure (hard to believe, based on the fertilizer source) or too variable to list? Just doesn't make sense.

As for the salt issue - maybe Jay got a bad batch. I haven't use the stuff enough to have an opinion on its merits.

Chris

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:23 pm

I've seen this before and always wondered how it's possible that a fertilizer made from fish can have no micronutrients? Maybe the amount is too small to measure (hard to believe, based on the fertilizer source) or too variable to list? Just doesn't make sense.

Federal law requires all ingredients to be listed on the label by percentage. No micronutrients are listed (no salts, either). Only NPK - 5-1-1. Perhaps it is because the amounts are too small, but chemists using quantitative analysis can pick up infinitesimal amounts these days. Maybe because it is too small an amount to matter? Anyway, I add them to each bottle I get.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  coh on Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:12 pm

Jim,

I don't know if that's exactly correct. I've been searching around this morning for information about fish emulsion fertilizer and micronutrients. I've found a lot of conflicting "information" (some of which is undoubtedly opinion, not fact). Many sources state that fish emulsion fertilizers do contain micronutrients - and as I noted earlier, it's difficult to imagine they don't when you consider the source of the fertilizer and how it's made.

As to the law - I found this on Clemson Cooperative Extension Website (specific link here):

Fertilizer Label: The law requires that the manufacturer guarantees what is claimed on the label. In some cases a fertilizer will contain secondary nutrients or micronutrients not listed on the label because the manufacturer does not want to guarantee the exact amounts. The gardener can rest assured that nutrients listed on the label are contained in the fertilizer.

Assuming the above is correct - the only "ingredient" in these fertilizers is the fish - the resulting micronutrients (or lack thereof) do not appear to require listing.

Perhaps this should be broken out into a separate thread if people want to continue the discussion?

Chris


Last edited by coh on Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:04 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  William N. Valavanis on Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:17 pm

Jim, just for the heck of it I searched for Alaska Fish Emulsion and read that All-purpose Alaska Fish Fertilizer contains over 19 trace elements and 11 different vitamins.

Did you check your bottle lately? I know fertilizer manufacturers often change their ingredients.

Bill

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  drgonzo on Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:54 pm

coh wrote:

Assuming the above is correct - the only "ingredient" in these fertilizers is the fish - the resulting micronutrients (or lack thereof) do not appear to require listing.


Neither would the salt content
-Jay

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:53 pm

William N. Valavanis wrote:Jim, just for the heck of it I searched for Alaska Fish Emulsion and read that All-purpose Alaska Fish Fertilizer contains over 19 trace elements and 11 different vitamins.

Did you check your bottle lately? I know fertilizer manufacturers often change their ingredients.

Bill

My bottle -- bought last summer -- lists NPK only. It says nothing about anything else in the concoction. My "Rodale's Garden Encyclopaedia" lists NPK and sometimes about 5% sulfur as the only ingredients in fish emulsion fertilizer. Horticulture Magazine's "Gardener's Desk Reference" also only lists NPK as the ingredients in fish emulsion. It does not mention sulfur.

So if there are micronutrients, I'd guess they're in amounts too small to make a difference; and I'd also guess that the makers of Fish Emulsion would claim them if they were there in useful amunts. Plants don't use/need vitamins, so I don't worry about those.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  bucknbonsai on Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:35 pm

Plants use vitamin B dont they?
Wouldnt there have to be salt in the bottle to act as a preservative?
Jim, what is that bottle you describe pouring into your fish emulsion bottles, and where did you find it?
What does bill use on his japanese maples, they never look burnt (maybe its his climate)
thanks.

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  coh on Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:51 pm

I don't know what happened to the link in my previous post, but I had found a website that listed analyses of the metal content of many commercial fertilizers - something of potential interest/concern to anyone using fish-based fertilizers:

http://agr.wa.gov/PestFert/Fertilizers/FertDB/Product1.aspx

And Jay, one of the things I found mentioned in a few sites about fish fertilizers - potentially highly high content of Cl due to the steam processing method used.

Chris

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:49 pm

bucknbonsai wrote:Plants use vitamin B dont they?

No. I referenced several agricultural studies on this topic a year or two ago. This is a LONG standing horticultural myth. Find a PDF document by Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D., Extension Horticulturalist, etc. Washington State University . .. "The Myth of Vitamin Supplements" for one of the articles.

Wouldnt there have to be salt in the bottle to act as a preservative?

I've never heard of it being used as a preservative in that way. I doubt it very much.

Jim, what is that bottle you describe pouring into your fish emulsion bottles, and where did you find it?

Chelated General Purpose Minor Element Spray" from Southern Agricultural Chemicals, Palmetto, FL and Hendersonville, NC.

It has Mg, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, and S.

I also have Ferti-lome Liquid Iron and Other Nutrients, which only has Fe, Cu, Mn, and Zn.

I use the Minor Element Spray (20ml / pint bottle of fish emulsion at the suggestion of the extension office in Florida before I moved here) most often.

Both of these come in 16 fl oz bottles.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  Treekovsky on Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:24 pm

Here's a pic of my little guy. Don't laugh! haha I see so many wonderful pictures of bonsai, this guy is just waiting for me to help him out a little. haha Seriously, I know more about tree-picking now than I did when I bought it, I'm worried there are a few things I would have noticed that might have detered me from this one. Or maybe not, who knows (I don't!). Anyway, here's a picture...


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Feeding a Japanese Maple

Post  bonsaisr on Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:51 am

There is nothing wrong with your tree & nothing to laugh at. However, it does NOT belong in a bonsai pot at this time. I believe you said you live in an apartment with a balcony. Get yourself a training pot or grow box, a very large container to promote growth, especially trunk thickening. A good example would be a plastic basin like they give you in the hospital, a plastic tote around a foot long, etc. If you can't scrounge anything, go to a large garden center and get an 8 or 10 inch bulb pan (a SHALLOW pot). Do it now. You can slip the tree into the new pot without touching the roots. Use coarse bonsai soil. Your nearest source of soil is probably Dallas Bonsai Garden or the nearest bonsai club.
You don't need any fertilizer until spring.
Iris

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Re: Feeding a Japanese Maple

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