5 foot tall shohin Trident maple

Stan Kengai

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Back story: I got this tree in 2010 from a bonsai nursery. It had been grown over a tile (poorly) and had almost no taper, but the shape of the trunk and fat roots intrigued me. Having been out of bonsai for several years and wanting something approximating mature, I put it in a bonsai pot and set about growing branches and a crown. During the growing season of 2012, my neighbor cut a large oak branch that landed in my yard and, among other things, broke the apex of this tree. I didn't see it this way at the time, but this was a fortuitous accident. It gave me the opportunity to re-develop the trunk with taper.

Fast forward to today: This is the second of three sacrifice branches in an attempt to develop taper in the lower part of the trunk.
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Tieball

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Nice work and thought process. I hope that I get to see a without-leaves version once you head into your Georgia winter season....assuming you have a winter season. I'm not sure about Georgia seasons right this moment.
 

Stan Kengai

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@Tieball I'm not entirely sure we're going to have a winter, as miserably hot as it's been this year (tongue in cheek) I'll be sure to show it out of leaf, but at this point, the top also needs a lot of work where the apex and branches were broken off. I tried to regrow the apex as it was, which I recognize now that was a mistake. Admittedly, this tree will probably never be a great tree, but I have learned many lessons from it.
 

Tieball

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Learning is good. I'm always interested in reading how people deal with the problems presented with a tree. The thought processes along the way. It helps my learning. It doesn't have to be a great tree...it just has to be be your tree....and your opportunity to learn. It's alive after severe damage.....you're doing just fine.
 

LanceMac10

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Hey, that's pretty nice!

Ahem......very nice!! Interesting container!:p

Bit of a bush at this point, and that's good!! Right?:cool::D
 

Adair M

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The second of three? So there's another planned for next year?

A couple of comments: I'm glad to see that you sealed the wound. When Matt Ouwinga was here last summer, he mentioned wrapping large cuts with plastic, like kitchen wrap plastic. The callous is restricted from bulging, and spreads across the scar instead. You do have to be very careful when removing the plastic as it will be very fragile underneath.

I would suggest planting in a wider, shallower box next spring. Maybe even going so far as to screw to a board. See MarkyScott's thread "Ebihara Maples".

One final comment:

Trying to induce taper retroactively like you're doing is really hard. I'm not trying to say you're doing it wrong, it's just hard to get satisfactory results. As you're finding out, you get big scars on the lower trunk, and even though they may callous over, they're still promenant.

The better way to do it is to start with young material, let it grow out, then chop really low. Then, let the new leader grow out, and chop again, really low? But a little higher than last time. Repeat until you have the trunk you want. During this time all there is to the tree is the central trunk and sacrifice leader(s) you grow out. Growing out of the apex over and over builds a tapering trunk and repairs the scars the fastest. Once you have a trunk, only then do you start growing branches. If you get back buds where you want, great! Else you have to graft.

Anyway, good luck with your tree!
 

Stan Kengai

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Hey, that's pretty nice!

Ahem......very nice!! Interesting container!:p

Bit of a bush at this point, and that's good!! Right?:cool::D
Thanks, @LanceMac10 . It is a ball of foliage right now. I defoliated it, but obviously not the sacrifice, in early June to keep short internodes as the branches begin to develop.

I don't have a clue what the container is, but I like it and the plant seems to love it. The plant's been in it since the incident of 2012 and it's holding up great. No apparent UV degredation. I got it from the Goodwill because the bottom is completely slotted.
 

Stan Kengai

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The second of three? So there's another planned for next year?

A couple of comments: I'm glad to see that you sealed the wound. When Matt Ouwinga was here last summer, he mentioned wrapping large cuts with plastic, like kitchen wrap plastic. The callous is restricted from bulging, and spreads across the scar instead. You do have to be very careful when removing the plastic as it will be very fragile underneath.

I would suggest planting in a wider, shallower box next spring. Maybe even going so far as to screw to a board. See MarkyScott's thread "Ebihara Maples".

One final comment:

Trying to induce taper retroactively like you're doing is really hard. I'm not trying to say you're doing it wrong, it's just hard to get satisfactory results. As you're finding out, you get big scars on the lower trunk, and even though they may callous over, they're still promenant.

The better way to do it is to start with young material, let it grow out, then chop really low. Then, let the new leader grow out, and chop again, really low? But a little higher than last time. Repeat until you have the trunk you want. During this time all there is to the tree is the central trunk and sacrifice leader(s) you grow out. Growing out of the apex over and over builds a tapering trunk and repairs the scars the fastest. Once you have a trunk, only then do you start growing branches. If you get back buds where you want, great! Else you have to graft.

Anyway, good luck with your tree!
Yes, I'm planning another sacrifice just above the one I just removed. In the second picture of the second post, you can see a waist in the trunk just below the first branch on the right. I obviously didn't intend to grow the tree using the method I am. It was basically necessitate when I lost the apex and branches a few years ago.
 

JudyB

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Bravo, nice look at a true sacrifice branch. I think lots of people don't understand that the branch needs to be soooo long, but it's nice documentation visually of what needs done. I bet those scars will heal fairly well...it's a trident after all.
 

Giga

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Looks like it's on it's way. There is nothing wrong with a knobby scared maple trunk, I love maples that look like that. It also looks like ou could do some thread root grafts on the side where this branch was removed.
 

Tieball

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The better way to do it is to start with young material, let it grow out, then chop really low. Then, let the new leader grow out, and chop again, really low? But a little higher than last time. Repeat until you have the trunk you want. During this time all there is to the tree is the central trunk and sacrifice leader(s) you grow out. Growing out of the apex over and over builds a tapering trunk and repairs the scars the fastest. Once you have a trunk, only then do you start growing branches. If you get back buds where you want, great! Else you have to graft.

Anyway, good luck with your tree!
Questions. I understand the start with young material. When you keep growing and chopping doesn't the tree still have multiple scars where the chops happened?

Does continual chopping slow down the trunk development? ....Or is this what's going on....That new leader left to grow wild produces plenty of branching and leaves to thicken the trunk...and the chopping continually produces a new wild growing segment each time with many branches and leaves. After the chopping....are branches that do grow below the chop removed and only the new leader is grown out? I have several young trees so I am curious to learn more.
 

Adair M

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Questions. I understand the start with young material. When you keep growing and chopping doesn't the tree still have multiple scars where the chops happened?

Does continual chopping slow down the trunk development? ....Or is this what's going on....That new leader left to grow wild produces plenty of branching and leaves to thicken the trunk...and the chopping continually produces a new wild growing segment each time with many branches and leaves. After the chopping....are branches that do grow below the chop removed and only the new leader is grown out? I have several young trees so I am curious to learn more.
Does continual chopping slow down trunk development? Yes.

But it allows taper to be built. If you just let it grow straight up, it will get fat quickly, but look like a telephone pole.

Continued grow out, cut back, grow out, cut back provides for controlled growth. Chop scars will be smaller so that when they heal they'll be less noticeable. You'll get more internodes lower down. You only get side branches where you have internodes. (Unless you graft on branches.)

You have to realize, creating quality bonsai takes time! Deciduous more time than conifer! Please note: I said "quality" bonsai. You can produce crappy bonsai pretty quickly. Quality bonsai takes a long time.
 

petegreg

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I'd like to incorporate my maybe stupid Q here. Imagine 2 feet tall deciduous tree with some good taper, but still in need of some trunk thickening. I let the top portion grow this season. If I cut this year's growth next spring or one node higher and let it grow for a season and so on... will the trunk thicken?

[Theoretically it's clear, but this is a birch, so avoiding bigger wounds (no big low chops) is in my interest.]
 
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Adair M

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I'd like to incorporate my maybe stupid Q here. Imagine 2 feet tall deciduous tree with some good taper, but still in need of some trunk thickening. I let the top portion grow this season. If I cut this year's growth next spring or one node higher and let it grow for a season and so on... will the trunk thicken?

[Theoretically it's clear, but this is a birch, so avoiding bigger wounds (no big low chops) is in my interest.]
The trunk will thicken, evenly, below the sacrifice branch.
 

Tieball

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Does continual chopping slow down trunk development? Yes.

But it allows taper to be built. If you just let it grow straight up, it will get fat quickly, but look like a telephone pole.

Continued grow out, cut back, grow out, cut back provides for controlled growth. Chop scars will be smaller so that when they heal they'll be less noticeable. You'll get more internodes lower down. You only get side branches where you have internodes. (Unless you graft on branches.)

You have to realize, creating quality bonsai takes time! Deciduous more time than conifer! Please note: I said "quality" bonsai. You can produce crappy bonsai pretty quickly. Quality bonsai takes a long time.
Thanks. Just wanted some clarification while I had those questions in mind and figured you had the answers.
 

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