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  • Japonica

    I have a Japonica shrub that's been grown on*successfully since the early/mid 90's in a series of containers. Every*few years*I've repotted it into a bigger container. I've noticed this last twelve months, however,*that the foliage has become sparcer. It's probably been in this container for up to five years, always well watered, but I'm wondering what to do with it next. In its pot it stands about six feet high. The ceramic pot is 14-16 inches diameter and a similar depth*and a hell of a weight with the plant. I'm wondering whether to plant it next into the earth in a new bed I could create for it instead of another, bigger container. I've never pruned the bush and its rarely been fed, perhaps once a year. Could it be that it's undernourished, pot bound or could it be that it's*coming to the end of its bushy stage of growth (it's always looked pretty healthy up until recently) and that it's going to look sparcer and* a bit leggy from now on no matter what I do with it?

    *

  • #2
    Dave, the word Japonica is only part of the name telling us the subspecies and doesn't tell us what your shrub is.* Could this be a dwarf Acer japonica aka dwarf Japanese maple?* If you aren't sure can you post a picture?

    Newt

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    • #3
      Yeah, could be any one of hundreds of plants. My first thought as an ornamental in a pot was Pieris Japonica, only because I knew that one as a child.

      I'm guessing that this is a dwarfed tree of some kind since Dave wonders if it is a natural style of growth at this age.* If that's the case, it may be root bound. We really do need to know what it looks like or what the species name is. There are too many possible answers.

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      • #4
        Thanks for both replies. Nice to hear from you again Newt. I do have a record of the actual name. I'll look it out and respond. Thanks so far for the guidance.

        Dave

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        • #5
          Dave, you are very welcome!* It's nice to hear from you too, though I wish it were for a better reason other then a problem in the garden. * * :?

          We await the full name so we can help.

          Newt

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          • #6
            Typical. I've put the label to this plant in each of the pots it's been grown in since I bought it in about '92. I now come to use the label and it slips down inside the pot. typical. So, I've consulted my RHS encyclopaedia of plants and it most looks like Pieris japonica. Both leaves and flowers are the same*plus it's frost hardy and the leaves are bronze when young as with Pieris. My book does say, however, that Pieris should grow to 3 metres wide and high. So, perhaps it is pot bound as previously mentioned. Anyway, take a look at the attached photo and let me know what you think.

            Dave

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            • #7
              That looks like Pieris for sure, aka Andromeda.

              Based on my limited experience with this species and the appearance in your photo, I'd say it's root bound.

              It will probably do much better in the ground, especially if you have loose acid soil.

              If the roots are wound round and round in the pot, you'll have to loosen up the root ball when you plant it. Give it lots of compost, and plenty of room. I wouldn't be surprised if you have to break the pot to get it out safely.

              I do a lot of gardening by "feel". I'd be looking at this entire plant structure critically and deciding if I should root prune the deformed root mass, plus top prune and shape. It's a little tricky at this time of the year. You get more daylight hours than we do now and this pieris is going to be terribly stressed no matter what you do. It may need shelter from the sun, nurturing with willow water or rooting hormones, and lots of TLC for the next year or two.

              Good luck, Dave!


              What say you, Newt?

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              • #8
                Sure looks like a Pieris to me too.* I agree with Thanrose that it would do much better in the ground.* I don't think I'd root prune in the sense of removing roots at this point, but teasing out the roots and cutting into the rootball with a knife will help it to put out new roots.* Of course you can cut any roots that are dead, dried or discolored. * I agree that you may have to break the pot to get it out.* Here's some pics of how to do this.* In this first one it shows how to cut the slits from top to bottom.* You'll probably need to make 4 to 6 slits.
                http://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=70

                This method might be even better to rejuvenate.
                http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/nwgard...wingate31.html

                You could prune any way you like to make it more bushy.* Since you will be either repotting or planting, you might want to prune in stages if you are going to be severe.* You could do the one-third method which means you severely cut back one third of the top growth each year for 3 years so you don't overstress the plant.* From what I'm reading these plants set their buds for the following years bloom by mid-summer.* That means you still have a few weeks to do this.* You should find this an interesting conversation.
                http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/...563430686.html

                Newt



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                • #9
                  I was detirmined not to break the pot as it cost me about 60 ($120). It's taken*about seven hours and almost as much cursing to get the plant out. The problem was that the pot had an internal 1-2 centimetre*lip which meant that I had to try and cut away the outer growth of the root ball by using a short pruning saw pushed*inside*before teasing*it*out. When I did get it out I found to my surprise that there was no tangle of roots as expexted, just well condensed soil, even at the base. I also found the plant label which I find was Pieris japonica but a variety called 'Mountain Fire'. The picture shows red flowers. So, obviously*I've had the wrong label for the last sixteen years or so as my flowers are white! I planted it with a healthy dose of chicken pellet fertiliser mixed in with some top soil and potting compost. I couldn't do anything to the root ball as there were no external roots on show. Thanks to thanrose and Newt for your help. I'm going*to lie down now to recover!


                  Dave

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                  • #10
                    Dave, thank you sooo much for the update.* I'm glad you were able to save the pot.* :)*

                    Rest now, you deserve it!
                    Newt

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                    • #11
                      Just another couple of questions and I'll move on, honest. Do I treat this Pieris as a shrub or tree? Can I expect the base growth to thin out and for it to resemble more of a tree shape? Thanrose mentioned that it might be an 'ornamental'. I'm not sure what that means. Finally I noticed that under another posting for 'mountain fire Pieris' that the plant should be treated as highly toxic and danegerous. Can I expect my variety to also be toxic?

                      Dave.

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                      • #12
                        Dave, don't fret about asking questions.* That's what these forums are for.* :)*

                        Do I treat this Pieris as a shrub or tree?
                        It's a shrub, but will grow up to 10 feet aka 3.04 meters.

                        Can I expect the base growth to thin out and for it to resemble more of a tree shape?
                        When you say "tree shape", I'm thinking you mean that it won't have any leaves on the lower trunks and look more 'tree-like'.* Alot of that depends on the growth pattern of the particular plant.* Pieris does grow tree-like.* You can rejuvenate and get new growth that will be fuller and more shrub-like if you prune the stems close to the ground.* New stems will emerge from the ground.* It's best to do this over a period of 3 to 5 years depending on how large your shrub is.* Pieris blooms on old wood so it's best to prune right after the finsih of bloom as it will set buds for next year shortly after the finish of bloom.* If you prune after that you risk cutting off the following years flowers.* Generally it's best to pinch off the spent flowers.* This site has great pruning info.* Scroll down to 'Tree Like'.* Pieris is also listed under 'Helpful Hints' in Tree-Likes (Thin-out, many small cuts) and Takes heavy thinning or arborizing:.
                        http://www.plantamnesty.org/pruning_...ern_wa.htm#top

                        Thanrose mentioned that it might be an 'ornamental'. I'm not sure what that means.
                        That is a plant grown for it's aesthetic value and not for food or medicine.

                        Finally I noticed that under another posting for 'mountain fire Pieris' that the plant should be treated as highly toxic and danegerous. Can I expect my variety to also be toxic?
                        Yup!* If one Pieris is toxic, they all are.* Here's the link.
                        http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/c...on/Pierija.htm

                        Don't hesitate to ask more questions.
                        Newt

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