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saving acer

hi, i need help.  My dad has just died and we are trying to transplant and save some of his cherished plants.  His acer is a dark purple acer which still has berries on it.  Unfortunately we dont have the time to leave it until it is stagnant.  I dug it up 2 days ago expecting a large root ball.  It did not happen, the soil dropped off the roots and left only the bush itself.  It is about 4ft tall and wide.  I gathered the soil it was in, dug a hole and put the bush in with its original soil all around it.  Since then i have gone out twice daily with 2 watering cans and soaked it.  The berries are still intact but all the leaves have drooped.  I need some advice here please.  Would not like it to die.



  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,854

    Acers don't have berries they have winged seeds. Can you post a photo so we can ID it?

    I'd stop watering now, it will have settled the soil around it and it's nearly winter so it won't need water.

    The leaves have dropped because of the season

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,854


    Hello graham, welcome to the forumimage

  • welcome Graham,

    i love the thought of a plant going (stagnant). 

    I wonder if it is a Callicarpa.

  • i will get a photo and post it, definetely looks like little round black berries lol  little bunches of them.

  • Here's 2 photos of bush





  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,854

    You need to cut that back whatever it is. The roots can't support all that top growth.

    Can you nip out and give it a squeeze and see if the leaves/branches have a smell. I wonder if it might be one of the black leaved elders.

  • this bush was perfectly healthy, leaves and berries all looking beautiful 2 days ago.  Before i transplanted it.   It has had 2 days of having water poured over it in the hope it will take again.  Do i still need to squeese the leaves and branches or is this what you would expect with a newly transplanted bush.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,854

    It looks rather sad. I think you need to know what it is to treat it well, not all plants like the same treatment. Elder has a strong pungent smell which would help ID. Someone might come and make a definite ID from those photos but I can't. What features made you think it was an acer? that might help in ID

    That's a lot of bush for the roots to support. It's hard to transplant something that size without damaging the more distant roots which are the important bits of root for moisture and nutrient uptake. Without these roots it can't take up water quickly and will drown.

  • i dug far away from the bush, lost one of its roots but there is one large one about 15  inches long and another 4 roots about 10 inches.  My dad called it an acer, but he also called his other bush an acer and the leaves were totally different ha ha.  Is there a knack to the pruning or is it just cut branches to half size, you can tell i am a master at this lol

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,189

    It looks like an elder to me - we can have a stab at saying which one when it grows new leaves next spring. 

    In the meantime I'd cut every branch hard back to about 18" from the ground.  That will give the roots less plant to support. If you can feel  natural joints in the stems - a slight swelling where new shoots form - cut back to about an inch above one which is about 18" above soil level.  If you can't feel the joints don't worry about them at this stage.  Just cut the branches back to 18".

    And don't water it any more.  It's leaves are falling - that's perfectly natural for this time of year - so it really doesn't need watering - the winter rains will be enough, and the roots also need oxygen - too much water will 'drown' them. 

    Elder are pretty tough plants - don't panic - there's a very good chance it'll survive .  Good luck  image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

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