Having hundreds of trident maples to experiment on is fun. I have the ability to try things in a season, and if it works I record it and move on to either improve on that experiment or abandon it if it fails. Last year I had the opportunity to try some different soil mediums as a test on how they perform in my climate. In 2012 I tried turface in a few plants. I had bought a pallet of broken bags and had over 400 pounds of the stuff. I was not pleased with the results. After using akadama for thirty years I knew how soil was supposed to perform. This did not perform well at all. The soil was slushy like quicksand and not the best medium for growing.
Last February I found a bag of growstones at the hydroponic store. This is a man made pumice product much like perlite but harder and stronger and while it will yield to finger pressure, it holds up well in the pot under water conditions. It looks to be completely reusable as a soil mix year after year. Fertlizer will probably plug it up after a few seasons with organic fertlizer, but chemical fertlizer should wash thru pretty well. While I tried the growstones in my potting mix as an additive to the normal 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 mix, this year I planted some tree in the growstones straight from the bag. It is not mixed with anything else and is pure pumice. I planted one tree like that and one tree in 95 percent pure growstones with just a 1/2 inch thick topping of my regular planting mix for looks just to see how each responds.
Also in 2013 I tried a couple tridents in a mix of straight lava and wood bark. The wood bark is orchid bark seedling size. It comes graded in the bag between 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch. It is pine bark not composted. The results were so, so. The plant grew OK but the roots were not as strong as plants that grew in other mediums.
The first tree I repotted was a trident that I stapled to a board. I used a staple gun that shoot “U” shaped staples for affixing coax TV cable to facia board when the TV guy comes out to hook up sattelite. The staples worked well and they did not cut into the root in one season.
I noticed the wood bark clinging to a few roots but I have seen this before with pumice and lava rock so this was no big deal.
This is how the roots looked that grew over the board and down into the pot.
The trees roots were trimmed back and it was planted out into a suitable dish.
The next tree was also grown in a lava and wood bark pot. On this tree I noticed much more bark clinging to the roots. Also some of the red lava can be seen. Not a lot more but it seemed noticable.
On closer inspection I seen something I have never seen before.
Switching over to macro mode on my camera I was able to get these shots. This bark particle is about 3/16 inch across. You can judge the size by my fingers which are not large. The roots have grown around the bark…or did they?
The roots of this trident have grown inside this piece of bark and have taken over like a bad alien from another planet.
The roots are actually popping out of the bark all over the place. I have no idea if this is a from the humates engorging the wood and holding fertlizer there in the porous bark or if this is a normal event.
Just to show some green, this is the perfect time to repot a maple. I love the part of the season when stuff pop out and pushes the leaves forward.
Here are some roots just emerging from the trunk that was buried and starting to grow. I took all these off.