Planting Location For Bloodgood Japanese Maple & Cucumber Plants Disappearing

Question:

I recently purchased a red leaf, Bloodgood Japanese Maple. My daughter says it should be planted in a shady area and will grow to twenty feet unless kept in a container. I want to plant it in a sunny location. Where should it be planted?

Answer:

  • Your daughter is correct about the size of a Bloodgood Japanese Maple as they grow to twenty-plus feet with a ten to twelve-foot spread.
    • A container does limit the ultimate height, but so does an annual pruning for those planted in the landscape.
  •  However, she’s incorrect about the exposure. In the Bay Area, Japanese Maples are grown in full sun or part shade. It is typical for the red leaf maples, particularly Bloodgood, to lose their red color and turn green during the summer months.
    • A sunny location extends the red coloring. In the fall, the Bloodgood foliage reverts to a reddish-green color, but they defoliate before they turn completely red.
  •  Red-leaved varieties get their color from a pigment called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is often displayed in the fall and winter months in other plants as the green pigment, chlorophyll, breaks down.
    • The red pigment in maples disappears with warm temperatures and long days.
  • The initial site selection is key in maintaining the long-term foliage color. They shouldn’t be crowded into a corner and factor in how much more the landscape around it will mature in the next ten years.
  • The location should provide some protection from hot, dry winds or salt carried by the afternoon marine influence.
    • The hot, dry conditions cause the leaves to burn along the margins and tips, particularly in the lace-leaf varieties. Another cause of tip burn is synthetic type fertilizers.
    • A slow-release organic fertilizer or one specifically for Japanese Maples is desirable.
  •  You can protect the foliage from the hot conditions with Bonide Wilt Stop. Wilt Stop will protect the leaf from the hot conditions just as it protects plants from freezing temperatures.

Question:

This year I planted several cucumber plants as I’ve done for many years. After a couple of days, they just disappeared. Were they eaten up by birds or some animals? Should I have let them grow bigger before planting or buy bigger plants?

Answer:

  • I suspect that your problem is Earwigs.
  • They feed mostly at night and devour young seedlings such as cucumbers and many other edibles, including basil. They also enjoy other herbaceous plants like petunias and marigolds.
  • With larger plants, Earwigs tend to chew holes that have ragged edges or are only partially rasped through and a light scattering of tiny black particles of earwig excrement. So the plants survive but are “beat up” looking.
  • I’d prevent the problem by baiting the area with Sluggo Plus. Sluggo Plus is an organic Snail, Slug, and Earwig bait that safe to use around edibles, pets, and kids.
  • The most crucial period is the first four to six weeks, but it doesn’t hurt to keep the area baited for twelve weeks.