Decorating Inside & OutHome & Garden

My Experience Planting Trees: Japanese Maple | Oriental Totem Pole | Pecan Trees

I’ve been spending the past couple of days repotting some trees & plants that I’ve received.

Most of them were FREE – compliments of the National Arbor Day Foundation and other friends. One of them I purchased.

At times, my dogs think they’re helping when they’re not. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.



My New Trees

I’ve been working with 3 different tree species this year:

Pecan Trees (carya illinoinensis) -2
Oriental Totem Pole (dracaena) -1
Japanese Red Maples (acer palmatum autropurpeum) – 5

Here’s how they all came about…


Planting Pecan Trees

We went to a home show in Cookeville, Tennessee a few months ago. On our way out, they were handing out free Pecan Trees. We got 2 that were pretty good sized. (Each 1-1/2 feet tall, and very long roots.)


We didn’t replant the Pecan Trees until last weekend. I put each in a medium-sized ceramic pot, then put those pots underneath our big blooming Japanese Maple in the backyard/garden area.

Moments later, when I wasn’t looking, our dog Tenor pulled one of them out of its pot and proudly strutted his new “find” over to me. He had already stripped the buds from the long stem. The lesson learned: Don’t plant stick-looking things at dog’s eye level… if you have dogs like like sticks!

Both pots were immediately moved to our outdoor A/C unit — which has now been converted into a makeshift flower shelf.

Good news: Despite having left them outdoors through a heavy frost on April 12th, several new “sprouts” have appeared at ground level inside each Pecan Tree pot, even though the stems themselves appear to have stopped growing. The new buds are really tall and have huge leaves — already! They say that young Pecan Trees will grow 2 to 4 feet each year and will be 70 to 100 feet tall when fully mature!


Planting Japanese Red Maple Trees

Next is the infamous Japanese Maple.

This is the world’s easiest tree to grow (…and the fastest-growing too).

NOTE: Japanese Maples are also a favorite landing spot for Japanese Beetles!

japanese-red-maple-6-months-old.jpg Our Japanese Red Maple tree started as a tiny little sprout (given to us by a friend) 4 years ago. We planted it in a large pot outdoors for the first year. It took off like crazy, so we potted it as the centerpiece in one corner of our backyard that second year. Now, it’s huge and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing its growth one bit. Jim keeps removing the leaves from the lower part of the trunk, to shape it more like a tree than a bush.

This is the first year that we found lots of little seedlings sprouting up in the ground underneath the tree itself. So this weekend, I chose to repot 5 of those seedlings (you can kind of see them in the 4 pots farthest from the window above). Two of them had really strong root systems, and the other 3 — if they grow like weeds like the rest of the tree does — will probably do just fine.

They say that Japanese Maples grow 15 to 25 feet… and they grow fast!

red-japanese-maple-tree-2-years-old.jpg red-japanese-maple-tree-2-and-a-half-years.jpg japanese-red-maple-tree-5-years-old.jpg

Planting An Oriental Totem Pole

I had a weak moment and made another late-night channel-surfing purchase a couple months ago. I saw his really cool-looking “log tree” for the indoors called an Oriental Totem Pole on QVC (it’s actually from Roberta’s GardensQVC #M10043).

I had “log home” on the brain and I couldn’t help but think that this indoor plant might “authenticate” the log home experience for me. I would nurture this baby tree  — which begins simply as a bare log — and then I would have a real tree growing inside my soon-to-be-built log home. (It was very late.)

This is one of the wackiest things I’ve ever done, but in the end I’m so glad I did. My Oriental Totem Pole is now my all-time favorite house plant! (And we don’t even have that log home yet.)

oriental-totem-pole-tree-log.jpeg My log arrived about 2 feet tall. You were supposed to put one end (that had been pre-treated with some substance) into 2-3 inches of water for 8 weeks and change out the water every few days.

oriental-totem-pole-tree-plant.jpeg At 4 weeks, it finally started “sprouting” — mine had 3 nubby green sprouts poking right out of the sides of the log itself! Each is on a different side, so that’s pretty cool. They say at 6-8 weeks you’ll begin to see 3 to 4-inch leaves. “Once they sprout, they grow fast!”

I have about 2 weeks to go until you’re supposed to replant it in dirt. Supposedly, the Oriental Totem Pole will stay small in a small pot, or grow 4 to 5-feet high in a large pot. (I’m going for the large pot.)

These photos were taken at 1 week (left) and 5 weeks (right):

oriental-totem-pole.jpg oriental-totem-pole-sprouting.jpg

UPDATE: Here’s what my Oriental Totem Pole looked like at different stages of growth.


And later, after 3 years…




And now 5 years later…