With May upon us, it’s time once again to do some serious things with sweetgums. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, collecting sweetgum in winter has not been a happy experience for me in times past. With a success rate of less than 30%, I would just end up scratching my head. Why would sweetgum not respond as other species do? I finally stumbled upon my answer: wait till May.
I’m sure you recognize this sumo-style specimen. I collected it back in 2012, and have let it grow out with some periodic training since then. I’ve been anticipating repotting time, especially because of the big “club” sticking out on the left-hand side of the base. Pretty unattractive – but it was more or less all the root that I was able to recover when I collected the tree. Today it was time to (hopefully) correct the problem.
My first order of business was to pull the tree from its tub and wash off all the old soil – which, incidentally, was too heavy for the tree. Here’s the result: an amazing amount of roots, all of which grew from nothing but the stump I collected and the awkward “club” root hanging off to the side.
For comparison sake, here’s a shot from the other side of the tree. You can see that when I collected this stump I literally sawed off whatever was projecting off the right-hand side. The tree has responded by producing nice roots directly off that cut. In a couple of years I’ll be able to carve the area to make the transition smoother.
Here’s the cut that needed to be made today. You may be able to see a smaller root that comes off this one toward the front. Since I had this to work with, I was much less concerned about just hacking the offending root off. But no matter, I expect roots to sprout at the edges of the cut.
Here’s a view from the front. Yes, it does look a bit abrupt, but to my eye it looks a lot better than what I started with.