Gardening: Expert advises on growing climbing plants

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Acers are known for their attractive leaves and gorgeous colours which can turn various colours before their leaves fall. They are also popular because they are quite slow growing, meaning they are great for any type of garden. According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), gardeners should plant them now.

The RHS explained: “Plant from early autumn through winter, so typically October to March. These slow-growing small trees are ideal for smaller gardens, but can make a great feature in any garden.

“Japanese maples are hardy but do best in a spot sheltered from strong winds. Red and purple leaves cultivars need some sun to fully develop their dark hues.

“Variegated Japanese maples need partial shade to prevent the afternoon sun from scorching the foliage.

“Green-leaved forms tolerate full sun, but are best in dappled shade as very bright conditions can sometimes cause scorch.”

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Gardeners should also ensure they are planting their acers in slightly acidic well-draining soil. However, they will be fine in most soil, but can be improved by adding well-rotted organic matter.

Although slow-growing, they prefer space for their roots and do best if they are not planted right next to other plants as they compete for space.

This makes them great to grow in pots, which is also ideal if you want to move the maple around the garden.

The RHS also shared the best way to plant a Japanese maple both in the garden and in containers.

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They explained: “Water in the tree to settle the soil and continue watering regularly, especially in dry weather, during the first summer.

“Mulch with well-rotted organic matter, such as garden compost or mulching bark from a garden centre, so the soil does not dry out in summer.”

To grow in containers, gardeners are recommended to use John Innes No.2 potting compost or a peat-free ericaceous with 25 percent added sharp sand to provide the acer with good drainage.

The RHS added: “Keep the compost moist, but not soaking wet, and feed in spring and early summer with a slow-release fertiliser or liquid feed.

“Your Japanese maple will need repotting into a slightly bigger container every couple of years. April or September are ideal months to do this.

“Long-term container-grown trees will need root pruning every two to three years. To do this, place the pot on its side and remove the tree.

“Using an old saw cut five centimetres off the bottom of the root ball and three or four silvers down the side. Tease out the roots on the surface of the compost and repot with fresh potting compost.

“Place sufficient potting compost in the base of the pot so the tree is planted no deeper than previously.”

However, regular pruning should only be done to control the size and shape of the red, but often grow best when left unpruned to form their natural shape.

Dobbies’ Horticulture Director, Marcus Eyles, told “Japanese maples should be pruned lightly over the winter when dormant to remove any wood.

“If you need to reduce its size, you can cut carefully into the older wood but use caution.

“Ensure that you cut just above the bud to avoid disease spreading through excess wood.”

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