Acer advice needed

Morning all, I'm planning to plant an acer into a container and need some advice.  I have read different things, so here are my questions:

What compost?  I've read it should be JI no 2, and also that it should be mixed with ericaceous.  What's best?  Also, should I add grit for drainage or not?

What size pot?  It's currently in a 3l plastic pot, but I've read you shouldn't overpot them.  Should I go for the smaller terracotta pot:

ah.  Was going to insert pictures but can't for some reason.

Anyway, if anone has any advice I'd be really greatful.


  • Hello DHC image

    I've got one planted in a pot and another in open soil. Both are dwrf varieties - is yours?

    My potted one is green leaved and likes dappled shade.

    I potted it up in 100% ericaceous, though acer growers have since told me that most acers will tolerate neutral soil too. Since I didn't know what pH my soil was, I played it safe and went for ericaceous.

    Mine was in a 3L pot and I planted it 2 years ago into a round pot of about 40cm diameter.

    Acer grower  lady I chatted to at a flower show advised me to lift it after 3 years, unfurl roots and cut them a bit shorter, then put back into same pot. Then pot onto its final pot after 5 years.

    I added lots of grit and some broken crocks to the bottom of mine for good drainage - they like it moist, especially around the roots (no drying out), but free draining too.

    I also put some bark chips over the surface to help with keeping moisture in.

    I have mine in a sheltered bit of the garden alongside a shed - they do like protection from a very blustery site and the green ones like mine like dappled shade as they can become scorched in full sun. My purple leaved palmatum likes it sunny (leaf colour better) but it dried out too much west facing, so re-sited it to a more sheltered position and it doesn't dry out now.

    Hope this helps.

  • OsakazukiOsakazuki Posts: 11

    I agree with Jess's advice. I love Japanese Maples and have a collection of around thirty in containers scattered around my garden. I have been growing them for years and experimented with all sorts of composts.

    I put all my young trees into John Innes number 2, with loads of extra potting grit to prevent them getting wet feet for prolonged periods. If I repot older plants I put into John Innes number 3 (which is advised in the best book on these plants by Vertrees and Gregory).

    They seem to do equally well in ericaceous but it isnt necessary and I don't see the point in mixing with another type of compost (just means you need to buy more).

    The key thing is good drainage and to prepare the pots well before you shove them in. I also use bark on top, but avoid putting it right up against the stem as it may cause rot.

    Incidentally just got a bargain in the reduced section at my local GC: an acer palmatum butterfly for 3 quid (originally £30), just needs a little bit of TLC and in a couple of years should be in great shape. You also get great bargains at GC's in the autumn/ winter when they lose their leaves. image

  • THIRTY acers Osaka???!!!! You should be in this weekends Open Gardens event!

    Well, if you think my advice is ok, then I am honoured, as you are pretty much an expert image

  • Thank you both very much for the advice.  I have a bit of both types of compost so I might mix them, will put in the grit and have plenty of crocks.  I'll go for the larger pot:



    I'm making a little shaded japanese corner on the patio out the back, with a mini pond (when I buy it), an acer, some stones and now maybe starting to think a mini cherry or something as well.  Want it to be a tranquil, beautiful little habitat for the frogs next year.


  • auntie bettyauntie betty Posts: 208

    Here's a tip - water with rain, not tapwater, or you'll be making soil less acidic/ more alkaline all the time. Leaving soil level 2 or 3 inches down below pot rim helps plant make the most of the rain, and surface mulch (eg slate chips) reduces evaporation. xx

  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 7,284

    Sounds lovely Daisyimage

    I bought an acer from a nursery at Hampton court last year. Her advice was only to pot on one size at a time, and always to do it before the end of July.  She said that when they are repotted their roots grow like mad to find the sides of their new pot, and if they have to go too far, or too late in the season, then they exhaust themselves trying.  Hope this helps.  If your terracotta pot is too large, you could always use a plastic one for this year, and sit it inside the real one til next year.

    The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones ......
  • ok maybe I'll go for the smaller one then, haven't done it yet because we're having intermittent showers image

  • Sounds lovely image

    How about a Japanese minature weeping cherry:

    I'd love one, but by the time I learnt of it, my garden was full!

  • Still haven't planted out the acer due to weather and work.  However today is a day off and the weather is good so I'm off to do it NOW!!! Thanks for the tip on the cherry, Jess - I was thinking of that one as I believe it's fairly small and slow-growing.  Still having a dilemma about pot size, but I'll decide when I get out there and get my hands dirty.

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