Late summer cuttings : fragile roots?

1st post rookie!

honored to be amongst many of you, i’ve learned a great deal from your experience and all the knowledge you share on a daily basis.

many questions, but first; i’ve setup my 1st grouping of (japanese maple) cuttings, a few of them may be rooting late summer just before fall. how should I transition them into the next stage(s)?

fall > winter > spring.
rooting trays > potting media (potting soil? bonsai mix?).

do I:

  1. transplant them into a standard potting mix, then place them (protected) outdoors so they can go through fall and eventually winter (in a protected, temp-controlled environment)?


  1. should I plant them straight into a bonsai mix, & place them (protected) outdoors so they can go through fall and eventually winter (in a protected, temp-controlled environment)?
    what would you do?

the transition from rooted cuttings, into fall & winter is a first for me. I appreciate and respect your advice, it’s simple to some of you but quite daunting for me! I want to make the best decision in order for them to have a great start next spring.

p.s. i’m located in toronto/CAD; growing environment: downtown city condo (w/ large balcony)

thanks in advance :o


Welcome to the Mirai community,
If you have newly rooted JM cuttings I would transition them to seedling pots and keep them in a well draining medium. I’ve had the greatest success with cutttings by minimally disturbing the new roots when transplanting. I have then used succulent mix, pumice, plain akadama or my usual mix. You can use any of them with knowledge that appropriate watering is the key to their survival. Protect the rooted cuttings from hard freezes, water to keep moist but not drenched and certainly dont let them dry out.

I have found that the roots one wants may help determine what medium you want to use. I found that using succulent mix or plain pumice gave me the roots I wanted when creating exposed root and root over rock type plantings. Akadama and bonsai mixes yeilded healthy, dense, fine root balls. Thats been my experience.

I must add that I have known people to plant in coarse sand with great success also. Maybe others will chime in and offer suggestions.

Good luck with your JMs.


thank you so much!
and that’s why mirai is the best, the community is not only knowledgeable but engaged.
I appreciate the info, it certainly clears many questions.
i’m thinking the bonsai mix will be the direction I go with. as you say, watering will be critical.
do you think maintaining a constant temp. of -1°C to +1°C over winter is a good range for the seedlings and other maples?
thanks again!

I’m glad I could help, if they are fresh cuttings with less than 1 season of growth I would keep just above freezing, 0-2 C I believe would be adequate. Where I live, winters are mild and we have 3-4 episodes of sub-freezing weather for 2-3 days at a time. I find that my established trees fair better than my younger ones.

amazing tip. thank you!
next challenge :slight_smile:

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last thing i’m unsure about, if the newly rooted cuttings go into an acadama_based soil mix- should I lightly fertilize until early fall to build some strength for next spring?

Honestly, I dont think it would cause any harm to the seedlings as long as you use a mild organic fertilizer. Something like (5-5-5, 5-4-6, etc). I would translplant, wait about 3-4 weeks and then apply if the seedlings are happy. The following year you could use (10-10-10, 20-20-20, or whatever) since you would want growth while they are developing.

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much appreciated! makes perfect sense :wink:

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hello @ndavila80
wondering, how do you know a plant has rooted without having to resort to digging into the medium?
just about every plant (from the 1st grouping) has pushed new buds after 5-weeks- but the root(s) ETA is unknown.
can they push (and sustain) new buds without rooting?
thank you,

They can push new buds but won’t sustain for very long if there aren’t roots. It depends on how many resources are stored in the vascular tissue of the cutting, but likely they wouldn’t last more than a few weeks without roots.

thank you @nmhansen ! its a bit of a mystery to me, why they wouldn’t focus all energy on roots before more buds/leaves that don’t sustain the cutting.
I guess one of those scientific things.


Yeah, I think it sends out the buds as kind of a last ditch effort. It needs the resources of photosynthesis to grow the roots, so when it has neither roots nor foliage, it’ll push out the buds and hope that it can generate enough resources to complete the system with new roots.

It’s hard to not want to dig around, but in this sensitive state, it could be the worst thing you do right now. I think as long as the plant is growing (no matter how slow) or at least not curling up and dying, it’s building enough to sustain itself.

patience is the name of the game!

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