Some things shouldn’t make a comeback

How to deal with understock if it grows back

Like the Ford Pinto's appearance on the car scene, understock should not reappear on your grafted trees. When it does, it is easy to deal with and can encourage much healthier growth. When we ship trees out we try and trim the understock off but sometimes months, or years down the road it will make a comeback. When this happens all you need to do to fix the issue is carefully inspect the graft junction and trim off the understock with a pair of clippers. 

1975 Ford Pinto

Understock on an alpine fir

Glacier alpine fir (Abies lasciocarpa 'Glacier')

This time of year, understock has a tendency to regrow from just below the graft junction.

See how on this fir the foliage on the lower portion is a dark green color, indicating that it may be the understock instead of ‘Glacier’. Some varieties are much more difficult to identify without careful inspection of the lines of the graft junction. If you have questions about where to trim, feel free to send us some photos in an email, and we can help walk you through the steps.

Black Princess Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Kuro hime')

Sometimes it is difficult to identify the understock on some grafted maples. The foliage can be almost indistinguishable with other green-leaf varieties.

Here ‘Kuro hime’ is pictured, having slightly smaller leaves and a more globose habit, indicating that the shoot emerging on the bottom left is not part of the grafted plant but actually understock reappearing.

Snow Cloud Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba 'Snow Cloud')

This is an easy one! Clearly the ‘Snow Cloud’ ginkgo has the creamy-yellow leaves, and the understock is the dark green portion.

Notice how the close-up photo shows that the understock is regrowing from more than one place. Using a pair of thin-tipped pruners, these sprouts can be cut back close to the trunk to discourage reemergence throughout the growing season.

Peve Minaret Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum 'Peve Minaret')

Just like we saw on ‘Snow Cloud’, the understock is coming back from more than one place on this ‘Peve Minaret’. It has many sprouts of understock shooting up from the base!

It is important to be especially observant of the understock on Taxodium (Bald Cypress) and Metasequoia (Dawn Redwood) because they have a tendency to grow very rapidly, overtaking the graft relatively quickly if left unchecked.

All of this information can be disparaging, but fear not: if you remove the understock before it becomes too vigorous, it is no cause for concern and is normal to happen occasionally on young plants.

However, do be vigilant because, if left unchecked, the understock can grow enough over time to take over the grafted plant. Careful identification of what to prune is also important. As you can see from this photo, the Picea abies ‘Cupressina’ (on the right) looked very similar to the species Picea abies (Norway Spruce) understock used which is the only thing remaining of the tree on the left! We hope you now have a better understanding of how to help your plants get established.

Interesting things you may not know about maples – especially Japanese maples

1. The seeds of a Japanese maple are called samaras

These interesting shaped seeds fly like a helicopter to the ground when they fall off in late spring.

2. In 1898 only 39 varieties of Japanese maples were available

Japanese Maple varieties are not all new to the US... In 1898 even there were 39 varieties of Japanese Maples available through Yokohama Nursery

3. Acer palmatum and Acer shirasawanum can generally be distinguished by the direction their samaras are held

Shirasawanum are generally held upright and palmatum are generally downward hanging.

4. Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa' is a favorite among Japanese maple collectors

This variety has been around for a while but is still a favorite among all Japanese maple lovers. This is one of the best green varieties that is prized for its compact growth habit which gives it a natural bonsai appearance.

5. Acer circinatum and Acer shirasawanum can be grafted onto Acer palmatum rootstock

Acer circinatum (Vine maple) is native to western North America but is so closely related to the Japanese maple that it too can be grafted onto Acer palmatum rootstock.

6. Some species of maples are well suited for cooler climates.

Shirasawanum and Japonicum maples are typically a little hardier than palmatum maples.

If you are on the fence about what species of maple to grow in your area, Acer shirasawanum or Acer japonicum might perform better than Acer palmatum.

7. Unique landscape applications

For instance, weeping (pendulous) varieties can be trained to weep over walls or other garden features creating a waterfall effect. Some pendulous varieties that are suited to this are: Ryu sei Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Ryu sei')[pictured], Orangeola Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Orangeola'), Baldsmith Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Baldsmith'). For more ideas about unique uses for maples in your landscape, contact us and we will provide suggestions.

8. Japanese maples can develop witch's brooms also! These genetic mutations are not exclusive to conifers.

Even more uncommon than brooms on conifers, maple brooms are often highly unique and unstable. This leads to difficulty in propagating and introducing a new variety found as a broom. One notable maple variety that was successfully introduced from a witch's broom is Shaina Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Shaina'). The original broom was found on the common variety 'Bloodgood'. Want to learn about witch's brooms? Read our witch's broom blog post here.

9. Many Japanese maple varieties that have been available in the U.S. for over 100 years are still popular!

12. Japanese maples are known for their fall color but a few are extraordinary

Notable Japanese maple varieties

Overall hardiest maple

The Trompenburg Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Trompenburg') is one of the overall hardiest and toughest maples we offer. We have had customers from the midwest and other areas who generally do not have luck with maples grow 'Trompenburg' with great success.

Finest foliage

Fairy Hair Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Fairy Hair') is a stunning maple with incredibly thin foliage.

Miniature Japanese maple

Some Japanese maples are slower growing than others but this one is tiny.


Unique colors

Most unique variegation

The Radiant Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Radiant') is a recent addition to our selection and features stunning pink and white variegation that looks like it was carefully painted on by hand.

Varieties with reticulated leaves

Reticulated leaves show prominent veins running through the structure of the foliage. This effect is displayed in many varieties, some of our favorites are:

Snapshot of Spring 2016

It's been pretty insane around the nursery, but here's a glimpse into what our spring is looking like.

Acer campestre 'Carnival'

Acer palmatum 'Coral Magic'

Acer palmatum 'Goshiki kotohime'

Acer palmatum 'Orange Dream'

Acer palmatum 'Radiant'

Acer palmatum 'Amagi shigure'

Acer palmatum 'Fairy Hair'

Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa'

Acer palmatum 'Peaches and Cream'

National Arbor Day is just around the corner – April 29, 2016!

Arbor Day was started by J. Sterling Morton in 1872 and was first observed in Nebraska. The Arbor Day Foundation was started in 1972 on the first centennial and is the largest non-profit organization dedicated to planting trees. National Arbor Day is April 29 2016 but check the link below for your state-specific Arbor Days. The timing of Arbor day coincides beautifully with spring and an ideal time to plant.

We have several types of tree seedlings for sale. These Arbor Day trees are easy to care for and require little attention.

Ginkgo seedlings for arbor day

Ginkgoes, also known as the Maidenhair Tree, are deciduous trees that originate from China. They are low maintenance and grow in USDA zones 4-9. Almost any kind of soil will support a ginkgo and they tolerate urban conditions well. Full sun is the ideal exposure for ginkgoes, but they tolerate partial shade and might grow slightly slower. Due to their resilient nature they are perfect candidates for street trees to grow along the sidewalks. Once established, ginkgoes require very little attention. They are drought tolerant and flourish in difficult climates such as Florida and the south.

Ginkgo biloba trees are known for their distinctively shaped leaves that turn a brilliant yellow in the fall and cover the surrounding ground with a blanket of color. We offer many dwarf varieties of ginkgoes (link to ginkgoes), but the seedlings we have for Arbor Day are the species tree that grows rapidly and can grow to 80 feet or taller. Ginkgoes are an ancient tree with records of the leaves imprinted in fossil beds. Arbor day foundation guide to ginkgoes.

Ginkgo biloba

(Maidenhair tree seedlings)

Deciduous, broad canopy Zone 4-9

Pinus contorta var. latifolia

(Lodgepole pine seedlings)

Columnar, Zone 5-8

Pinus sylvestris

(Scots pine seedlings)

Generally columnar or pyramidal, Zone 3-8

Acer palmatum

(Japanese maples seedlings)

Deciduous, fast growing, and colorful leaves Zone 5-9

Pallet shipping specimens and large orders

Pallet shipping is the safest, most cost effective way to ship specimens and large quantities of trees in containers. When you order a specimen and get pallet shipping you can add more specimens or smaller container trees that ship for free!

How many plants can be shipped on a pallet?

It depends on the exact sizes of the trees, but usually 3-4 specimens can be shipped on a pallet or one specimen as well as: 25+ #7/#10 containers, 50+ #3/#5 containers, or 100+ #1 containers. 

What are the benefits of shipping on a pallet?

Pallet shipping is a safer, more cost effective way of transporting specimen trees or large quantities of container plants.

  • The trees are shipped upright and are more stable in transit. Upon arrival they can be easily unloaded and placed in your garden.
  • Pallet shipping saves you money on shipping. You can ship an entire gardens worth of material on a single pallet.
  • Pallet shipping only takes about a week depending on your location.

How do I order a pallet shipment?

When you check out on our website and have a large order of container trees or a specimen you will see an option for "Pallet shipping estimate - actual amount will be charged". When you select this option you will be charged an estimate for your shipment and we will contact you with the final details of when the order will be shipped and what the final cost will be. Our estimates are based off of previous shipments and we strive to make them as accurate as possible. We do not make money on shipping and charge you the actual cost of shipping your order.

We have many options available for mature specimen trees. For a limited time we are offering a FREE landscape-ready tree with qualifying orders. Build your order and use the coupon code listed on our website to get your FREE tree!