Container grown Acer

MeomyeMeomye Posts: 345

I am interested in purchasing an Acer which I intend to grow in a pot. Could anyone please recommend an attractive red one that does not grow too big? Also, could you advise on the best position, soil and feed for it? 



  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    There are so many gorgeous acers out there - we have several in pots where they seem to be very happy - some of them have been in pots for nearly 17 years.  They need a good sized pot, out of the wind (which they all dislike),  good drainage but otherwise are not difficult to care for.  As with all potted plants you must do for it all the things it cannot do for itself in a controlled space.  Water during growth, with some decent feed - I use organic pelleted chicken manure in April.    They stay put all winter with no special protection, they've frozen, been covered in snow, and lots of sunshine and they thrive well.  We have a few reds and a pale green, plus a gorgeous snake bark - don't rush into a decision - you'll have to live with it for a long time. 

    Maybe have a look in a good garden book for some that appeal to you?  If you get a chance to go to a larger garden show you will see lots of red and beautiful acers - hard to choose just one!



  • AtillaAtilla Posts: 1,493

    Bookertoo has given great advise - good drainage but keep watered in summer in a sheltered position out of the wind is key. I like Acer palmatum dissectum dissectum atropurpureum. Any Acer 'atropurpureum' will be red and some green ones will turn red in autumn before leaf fall.

  • MeomyeMeomye Posts: 345

    Thankyou for your replies, could you please clarify what it meant by 'good drainage', I have never really understood this term.  image 

  • FleurisaFleurisa Posts: 779

    Have a look at the Hippopottering website I've bought a couple of trees from them at flower shows.

    Good drainage means soil that doesn't become waterlogged such as clay soils. I grow my acers in pots in John Innes ericaceous compost with some grit mixed in.

  • smflymansmflyman Posts: 32

    Good drainage is many things to many gardeners. A pot should dry out at much the same rate as a flower bed would. A 5 cns layer of gravel covered by porous landscape fabric would be good for a long term Acer pot. The growing medium should be beefed up with some topsoil and well-rotted compost. Whichever Acer you decide on the most important seasonal task is to gently scrape away the top 5 cms of soil each Spring and replace with fresh soil compost mix, plus some pelleted chicken manure or similar. I have an Acer atropurpureum var. dissectum which has been 18 years in the same pot.It is 4' high, 4' wide and seems happy to grow slowly with fine foliage every year.

  • MeomyeMeomye Posts: 345

    Thanks for replying Fleurisa and Smflyman, so to clariify S. are you saying I have to put the gravel and fabric at the bottom of the pot?  Should I start off in small pot (as some suggest) or just put it straight into a large one where it can stay long term?

  • Like Bookertoo, I have had a couple of different acers in large pots for many years now. The only advice I'd add is that every Spring I take out the top couple of inches of soil (which also gets rid of any weeds), and replace it with new compost mixed with some fish blood and bone meal. Mine too have been through a couple of very tough recent Winters here in Lancashire, with no protection whatsoever, and survived. My pots are about 16" diameter so by 'big' we are not talking enormous pots.

    If you want to do any shaping of the plants, do it when the plant is dormant - I have a snip about February. Acers in pots don't grow as big as in the garden so drastic pruning is not necessary.

    They are a very worth while plant, so choose carefully and good luck with it!

  • Jim MacdJim Macd Posts: 751

    Put simply good draining means it has a good proportion of air. Plants that don't need good drainage have specially adapted roots to take up what they need in the absence of a good amount of air. So, raise up your pots so any water can run out, add in grit so take  up room that water-holding compost would otherwise occupy. Gravel at the bottom won't improve drainainge, what you need is to provent the holes at the bottom from blocking up, most people but some crocks over the holes but don't block them. I would put it in a large container now and let it grow.

  • Jim MacdJim Macd Posts: 751

    I just realised how contradictory my explanation was, too much water can make plants wilt, because they can't take up water if their roots get waterlogged, the roots die back and the plant wilts, the gardener adds more water and the plants dies back more.

  • MeomyeMeomye Posts: 345

    Thanks everyone, just a couple of questions if I may, I have now purchased an Acer.P. Shaina, and was wondering what was the best site for it. Also I have two pots available terracotta verses plastic, which would be the better choice for this please. Many thanks

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