Repotting an established Acer
Stephanie newish gardener Posts: 464
We have an Acer which has been glorious every year until now, in spite, as I have recently realised, it being in the wrong place.
This year only half of it has leaves and really it should have been potted on ages ago so I'm thinking of doing that now.
It has been in a sunny spot and open to wind to a certain extent so I'm thinking to repot it and move it to dappled shade and relative shelter.
Is now a good time? Does anyone think the bare half will leaf again? Should I be doing anything else with it?
It's in a 30 x 30cm pot and is 120 cm tall and wide. I think a new pot should be about 60x60. Does that sound about right?
Forgive my failure to be kinder to this lovely plant!
Last edited: 29 May 2017 12:34:38
With all due respect, I think that pot is far too small for the size of plant. I have a number of acers and have found that in practice they do not do very well in pots except when they are still quite small plants.
The best time to re-pot Acers is about March time, before the new growth starts. I have read that you can do at the end of the season also (November). I would consider a re-pot now as the plant is in need of some nutrition and resuscitation but see if anyone comes back with better advice.
For the re-pot, ensure you have good drainage (holes, crocs at bottom, raise pot off the floor etc.), give a feed and position in a more sheltered area, in dappled shade if possible. I'm not sure if those bare twigs will re-grow - if they go pale and brittle then they are dead. Good luck as Acers are a wonderful addition to any garden.
You're right and I know it should have been done long ago but with full time employment, 3/4 of an acre and the vagiaries of the Scottish weather I spend most of my time torn between one high priority time-dependent job and four hundred others, all equally pressing. The forth bridge springs to mind!
Put it into a pot about double the size with fresh compost and move it into a slightly shadier position. I have 3 at the back of the house and they face north west. I don't think the other branches will leaf up now but I have always found that some branches do that . Give it a good feed and mollycoddle it for the next year if you have time. I do tend to re[lave my acers in pots every ten years or so when they eventually succumb to the Scottish weather or my neglect!
Well we went to the garden centre where they had a number of Acers, all in relatively shallow pots, so I asked the guy there whether they needed something bigger or whether they are generally happy in something not too tall. He said they do like being pot bound (though probably not as bad as ours) and since ours is at least 7 years old it will be ok to go up more than one pot size.
Apparently Acers up to 5 years old will only be happy going up a little bit at a time in terms of pot size.
So we bought a nice big frost safe pot and will sort it out by next weekend. There's a question in this month's mag about the right compost mix for acers so I will use that as a guide, and will keep fingers crossed for new growth appearing on the bare branches.
We have two other Acers, both a fair bit smaller, and one of them seems to have succumbed to wind and weather, most likely a bit of frost, and is refusing to leaf. I'm thinking of giving it a trim to see how far back I need to cut to find green wood. That could of course be a big mistake....
Only trim it back if there is obvious die back on the stem. Otherwise leave well alone.
Maybe put it n the ground if you have a spot.
I wondered about planting it in the ground, but we don't have a clear spot just yet - reclaiming the garden is a major task here and we have loads of border so I don't want to make another one just for the acer. We've got lots of old established shrubs which I'm gradually tackling/renovating and will eventually take some out, at which point the acer could possibly be planted.
We tend to move it somewhere sheltered each winter though, which is another reason why I haven't actively looked to plant it permanently. If it does end up in the ground then it will be fleeced for winter as I'm not sure it would be too happy in the relative open
Fab looking acers though - ours was that glorious once, though not that big
Sadly we're in the not so balmy north of Aberdeenshire...
I'm in central Scotland and have a gardening friend in sunny Moray. Both of us have acers in the ground as well and they survive our winters no problem so no need for fleece.