Monday 6 June 2011

Splitting the Maple trees

With summer arriving here in my little garden in japan the temperature is increasing noticeably. For most of the plants the extra heat is great, but for some the hot weather means stress, and that can lead to diseases or other problems. Maple trees usually thrive in the warm temperatures of Tokyo's summer, but, because my little maple tree pot was growing four different trees, I was worried the heat would be too much for them. Last year they got sick and I almost got no show for the autumn. So, to give them a better chance, I decided to split them.


The maple pot was getting a bit crowded

My initial plan last year was to choose the prettiest one after autumn and just cut away all the others, but when the time came I had no heart to kill the rest of the plants, and so they keep on growing. I should had split them in early spring, when they where on they dormant state and before they sprouted back to life, but out of procrastination I didn't. When spring came they all got new leaves and the pot started to be a bit overcrowded. Something had to be done but I didn't want to kill anyone.


They were four maples growing in that pot

Finally, last month I took some time to split the maple tree planter and put each plant into its own. I had to wait until then for the spring sprouts to gain strength to avoid hurting the plant even more, but of course that also meant I would had to deal with more tangled roots at the time of separating them. It was a risk either way.

It was a mesh of tangled roots

I opened up the pot and dealt with the mesh of tangled roots. They had grown very close together, to the point it was very hard to know where one tree started and the other one ended. It took me a while and I had to snip away a couple of roots, but I was able to split them apart. After the transplant the trees got a bit stunned and stopped growing, luckily seems that the worst was just a couple scorched leaves.



These are my favorites, they looks great in autumn

Now I am sure they will do very well this summer, and I wont have to worry about them getting sick or dry. The only thing is that I have no idea what will I do with four trees in such a small balcony. Maybe I will turn a couple into bonsai, I have always wanted a maple bonsai.


Only a couple of scorched leaves to regret

So, while everything ended up ok, my gardening lesson of the day was to avoid procrastination (seems to be a lesson I keep trying to learn). I could have avoided loosing half a year of growth and those scorched leaves if I had done the transplants in early spring. But well, that is gardening, you learn every day.


  1. I bet they look so stunning in autumn. Now I wish for maple trees too.

  2. Hmm avoid procrastination...that's what I need to learn how to do! I love maples, they are so beautiful no matter what shade they are, bright lime green or that gorgeous jewel red. I was on Miyajima island in Autumn and it was sooo stunning.

  3. Your favorite that looks great in Autumn seems to look great right now.

  4. "Procrastination is the thief of time" they say. It affects us all on occasion! Hope the Maples survive OK. My only example (a tiny one about 30cm tall) died during the severe Winter weather. Must get round to replacing it. (Note procrastination going on here...)

  5. I understand exactly how you did not have the heart to kill any of them - that is how I feel every time I sow a lot of seeds just to make sure and then end up with a lot of seedlings that need to be divided up so they all of space to grow. Despite not having enough space, I end up trying to save every one. Japanese maples are wonderful, my mom really wants one of the feathery-leaved ones to plant in the center of my parents' front lawn. Unfortunately they are extremely expensive around here.

  6. awesome! i hope they root nicely...

  7. can't wait to see the maple trees in Autumn!
    Anyway they look good now too!

  8. We've always fancied an acer (maple) but I understand they suffer from wind burn. We have just starting clearing a bed that is sheltered from the wind but is quite shady and understand that some acers don't mind so we may plant one yet!

    I think your plants are already a bit big for bonsais :)

  9. Hi Fer, keep all of them and I think Bonsai is the way (very appropriate for your location too!) :)

  10. Fer, Yesterday and today have been unbelievably hot and humid. Most unusual for the shore of Lake Michigan. Since it is way to hot to work in the Gardens at Waters East, it is a good time to catch up on your Blog and other Blogs I am following. Maple trees are absolutely beautiful here in the Fall. Lots of tourists come from mile to drive and hike the forest in Wisconsin in the month of October to see the reds, oranges, yellows of the Maples. Like you, I can never throw away any of the plants I divide thought I am running out of space! I do give away bushels of them each Summer and still have more than enough. Glad though I can give them to "happy" new homes! Jack

  11. I grew up with a big Maple tree right infront of my house. In Elementary school we used to tap others and make our own syrup.....nice simple times :)

    Good luck with those beauties :)

  12. Procrastination! Sometimes we can get away with it, but plants are not always that forgiving. Your little maple trees are doing so well. You will be surprised at how fast they grow. I have never seen a bonsai maple; I look forward to seeing how you create yours.


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