Providence Farm Ornamentals currently focuses on the production of Japanese maples and dwarf conifers. I currently produce all of my own grafts and am always adding to my collection by trading and purchasing scion wood for grafting from some of the best collections across the country. I have acquired named varieties of Japanese maples and dwarf conifers from private collections, wholesale nurseries, and arboretums.
The majority of my plants are grafted, and starting with strong rootstock helps insure strong grafts with good vigor. I plant all my understock for grafting into Anderson 9" tall inch tree band containers. Having this deep root system reduces root congestion, and contributes to a vigorous graft. The seedlings for the understock of my grafts are grown in the Anderson tree bands for at least 9 months before the grafting process to insure the seedlings are capable of supporting a strong graft. My Japanese maples are grafted onto Acer palmatum plugs produced by Heritage Seedlings after they have been planted into the tree band containers and allowed to grow for a season. My five needle pines are grafted on to White pine (Pinus strobus) rootstock grown from seeds collected in North Carolina and are produced here at the nursery. Next season I will begin grafting named cultivars of Japanese white pine on to Pinus parviflora rootstock. Our 2 needle pines are grafted on to Japanese Black pine (Pinus Thunbergii) rootstock that is also grown at the nursery. Norway spruce (Picea abies) bare root plants are purchased from field grown sources and used for grafting all spruce. Japanese fir (Abies firma) are also purchased as bare root plants and used for all fir grafting because of its suitability for southern climates, and soils. I am also grafting a limited quantity of Cedar varieties onto Cedrus deodara rootstock produced here at the nursery.
The deep root systems created by growing these understock in the 9" tree bands allows for planting out directly into #2 containers after the grafting process, which in turn speeds the maturity of the graft and gets the plant root system off to a strong start. I always take care when I transplant from the nine inch tree bands into 2 gallons to fan out the roots in a radial fashion. I feel this extra steps helps eliminate poor root structure that is very common with many mass-produced grafts.
Developing a soil mix that has the proper pH range and superior drainage is also important to my production success. I use a mixture of pine bark fines, and a locally produced product called permatil. I find this mix drains well, and has nearly eliminated root damage that is common from overly damp mixes. For fertilization of plants I use a Chemilizer Injector. This injector applies an appropriate amount of nutrients to the plants through the irrigation water. I also use citric acid to moderate my alkaline water source, and create an appropriate pH range for Japanese maples and conifers.
As the grafts mature I take time to untangle roots and root prune before moving up to the next size container. This small step creates improved root systems that radiate out from the base of the plant, instead of encircling the root ball. I believe that when these plants are planted in the landscape this superior root system will improve the chances that the plants will thrive.
The last thing I do to improve the long-term health of my trees and shrubs is the pruning and shaping I do as my plants mature. Developing a branch structure that is balanced, and aesthetically pleasing is my goal in creating specimen quality plant material. Structural problems such as cross branching and tight branch angles are problems for both the look and long term health of the tree.
I take every effort to produce trees and shrubs that are healthy, vigorous and will thrive when planted in the landscape. I feel these small steps in my growing process yield excellent results. I would welcome any questions you may have about growing Japanese maples and dwarf conifers in your landscape.Carl Weston