Acer Palmatum material find

cole morton

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I found this maple on a local classifieds website for $35. It seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up. I have never done a trunk chop before, but I think that is what this needs to get some taper going. This tree is also in urgent need of a repotting as the soil is quite poor, and there are a lot of roots coming out the bottem of the pot. Am I safe to repot (root triming as well) and trunk chop at the same time? I am also curious as to what you think is the best time to do the trunk chop/repot. Thanks in advance for your insight, im rather new to all this.

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R3x

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Both repotting and trunk-chopping are usually done in early spring. With well established plants I consider it safe to repot almost any time if you do not disturb roots too much.

However with this one here's few things to consider:
  • graft - is it on its own roots or is it a graft? If on a graft (usual situation) how good is the fusion?
  • nebari (root flare) - does it have any? If not, consider air-layering.
  • taper and movement - the main trunk lacks any taper and is almost straight. You can consider reducing it to the thinner branch on the left or do low the trunk chop to get some taper and movement (probably the better choice).
 

cole morton

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Both repotting and trunk-chopping are usually done in early spring. With well established plants I consider it safe to repot almost any time if you do not disturb roots too much.

However with this one here's few things to consider:
  • graft - is it on its own roots or is it a graft? If on a graft (usual situation) how good is the fusion?
  • nebari (root flare) - does it have any? If not, consider air-layering.
  • taper and movement - the main trunk lacks any taper and is almost straight. You can consider reducing it to the thinner branch on the left or do low the trunk chop to get some taper and movement (probably the better choice).
I will have a closer look at the nebari, I am not sure if it is grafted. I agree that a chop beneath the lowest branch is my best bet as neither branch has much potential.
Thanks for your insight
 

sorce

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No no chop chop J Maple in Spring.

I've read.

Sorce
 

defra

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As far as I can tell withought disturbing the surface roots I agree.
You will know when you repot next spring!'

But concider airlayering a couple parts of before chopping....
Yes you lose some time on the chop but gain two maybe 3
Three trees more from to grow and to learn on !
 

cole morton

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You will know when you repot next spring!'

But concider airlayering a couple parts of before chopping....
Yes you lose some time on the chop but gain two maybe 3
Three trees more from to grow and to learn on !
Great idea! I see a few places of interest for air layering. I guess losing a year on the trunk chop development would be worth it.
 
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I agree on the air layer esp if you are planning to chop back to square one. Try imagining different angles for removing the bark and how it would affect the resultant neberi. Sometimes dramatic increases in taper can be realized by picking an angle not perpendicular to the air layered branch. Also, targeting swelling from divergent branches or even lumps can have a similar effect. My experience is with air layering ficus, but I believe the same technique would work with Maple.
 

Paradox

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Maples will airlayer.

Start researching and read up on it before it's time to do it so you have a bettee idea of what to do.
 

KiwiPlantGuy

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Looks like a non-cultivar, non- grafted Jap Maple to me. If you dig down you will probably have some more trunk to enjoy too.
Agree with the air-layer option, and after taking your 2-3 layers off you have practically done a trunk chop lol. Although seeing those rings ( where the new buds/growth come from) below the first branch, I think the chop will work out well down low also.
Charles
 

KiwiPlantGuy

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I was having trouble exposing the nebari due to all the fine roots on the surface, I didnt want to damage too many.
Hi Cole,
In the early spring when you can repot ( eg. Cut the roots) you will probably have about 3-5 big roots and yes lots of feeder roots. The whole point to rot pruning is to give your tree a new lease of life. Eg. cutting 1/2 - 3/4 of root ball is fine. Even cutting all feeder roots is fine too as they are so vigorous. They (Jap Maple) won't even miss a beat.
Cutting roots that go downwards, and there are many threads here about root pruning. Also many videos on You-Tube about this. Basically I wouldn't be afraid of the root pruning as you can't go too far wrong.
Hope that helps and not too lecture like :).
Charles
 

cole morton

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Hi Cole,
In the early spring when you can repot ( eg. Cut the roots) you will probably have about 3-5 big roots and yes lots of feeder roots. The whole point to rot pruning is to give your tree a new lease of life. Eg. cutting 1/2 - 3/4 of root ball is fine. Even cutting all feeder roots is fine too as they are so vigorous. They (Jap Maple) won't even miss a beat.
Cutting roots that go downwards, and there are many threads here about root pruning. Also many videos on You-Tube about this. Basically I wouldn't be afraid of the root pruning as you can't go too far wrong.
Hope that helps and not too lecture like :).
Charles
I will certainly repot (and root trim) this coming spring. I have never done root pruning on such a well established tree so I really appreciate your advice!
 

KiwiPlantGuy

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I will certainly repot (and root trim) this coming spring. I have never done root pruning on such a well established tree so I really appreciate your advice!
Hi Cole,
Um, just FYI, I am a bonsai novice with Nurseryman's experience. I don't have any trees in Bonsai pots just a whole lot of babies in growth phase.
Thanks for your kind comments re advice.
Charles
 

defra

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If you going to airlayer i reccomend to just only to put it in a pot one size bigger than this one or plant it in the ground without disturbing the roots

this because the tree wont be focusing on regrowing the roots but pushes leaves at full strength
The more leaves the more photosynthese to form the roots for the layers
 

BeebsBonsai

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So lets break this down into steps you want to take and why you may or may not want to perform those tasks right away or in conjunction with each other:

Operation 1: Repotting

Operation 2: Trunk Chop.

Operation 3: Build taper, over time.

Best possible sequence of events for these would be the following:

Opearation 1, Operation 2, Operation 3. Your roots need to be growing healthy with room to extend before performing a trunk chop. I am sure there are people that have success at doing both at once, or in close succession, but I also think that's with full attention paid during aftercare and a vigorous and healthy-growing tree to start with. You don't really know what kind of care the tree had before you got it, and if it is as severely root-bound as it is, my guess is that you need to build a bit of vigor before the trunk chop. Here is what I would recommend:

Operation 1: Repotting- Do this next Spring. As soon as you see the buds swell, repot the tree. Maples are pretty hardy and can have a good amount of their roots removed. This helps both points 1 and 3. Successful repots of Maples really give you the best opportunity to build good, strong nebari. Be sure to plant in a pot that is shallower than you would typically use, but also wider than you would typically use. A nice, shallow, oval is a typical choice. Keeping the tree in a shallower pot forces those roots to spread out, which, in turn, increases the width and strength of the nebari.

Operation 2: Trunk Chop- Do this in Spring of 2019. Again, time the chop for bud swell, and all of the strength that was being directed to all the buds will go into those that you are starting the next step of the trunk and first branch with. In 2018, be sure you fertilize enough to pump as much vigor into the tree as possible. This will prepare the tree for the trunk chop in 2019 and set it up to explode with growth from the buds you cut to.

Operation 3: Building taper over time- Taper is always the struggle right? Not with maples you are trunk chopping. Each time you do a new chop, you build another step of taper. Think of the tree you chop in 2019 as the starter. then after letting it grow out the entire year, reduce to two shoots, training one as the new trunk step, and one as the next branch. Grow that out for a year or two, depending on how much of a difference in taper you want, and do the same thing again, adding one new trunk step and branch each time. And before you know it, you have a pretty damn good looking maple. Over the course of 5-10 years, but thats nothing in bonsai. Most important part is letting them grow out like crazy after each operation, while keeping the already developed portions heading toward the refinement phase. I always suggest Peter Adams book on Bonsai with Japanese Maples. It's simple to understand, great illustrations, and examples of his trees. You get to look into the brain of someone thinking about maple design. Some of the horticulture stuff is a bit out-dated, but if you read for purely design understanding and how to build design over time, there is a wealth of information.
 

defra

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So lets break this down into steps you want to take and why you may or may not want to perform those tasks right away or in conjunction with each other:

Operation 1: Repotting

Operation 2: Trunk Chop.

Operation 3: Build taper, over time.

Best possible sequence of events for these would be the following:

Opearation 1, Operation 2, Operation 3. Your roots need to be growing healthy with room to extend before performing a trunk chop. I am sure there are people that have success at doing both at once, or in close succession, but I also think that's with full attention paid during aftercare and a vigorous and healthy-growing tree to start with. You don't really know what kind of care the tree had before you got it, and if it is as severely root-bound as it is, my guess is that you need to build a bit of vigor before the trunk chop. Here is what I would recommend:

Operation 1: Repotting- Do this next Spring. As soon as you see the buds swell, repot the tree. Maples are pretty hardy and can have a good amount of their roots removed. This helps both points 1 and 3. Successful repots of Maples really give you the best opportunity to build good, strong nebari. Be sure to plant in a pot that is shallower than you would typically use, but also wider than you would typically use. A nice, shallow, oval is a typical choice. Keeping the tree in a shallower pot forces those roots to spread out, which, in turn, increases the width and strength of the nebari.

Operation 2: Trunk Chop- Do this in Spring of 2019. Again, time the chop for bud swell, and all of the strength that was being directed to all the buds will go into those that you are starting the next step of the trunk and first branch with. In 2018, be sure you fertilize enough to pump as much vigor into the tree as possible. This will prepare the tree for the trunk chop in 2019 and set it up to explode with growth from the buds you cut to.

Operation 3: Building taper over time- Taper is always the struggle right? Not with maples you are trunk chopping. Each time you do a new chop, you build another step of taper. Think of the tree you chop in 2019 as the starter. then after letting it grow out the entire year, reduce to two shoots, training one as the new trunk step, and one as the next branch. Grow that out for a year or two, depending on how much of a difference in taper you want, and do the same thing again, adding one new trunk step and branch each time. And before you know it, you have a pretty damn good looking maple. Over the course of 5-10 years, but thats nothing in bonsai. Most important part is letting them grow out like crazy after each operation, while keeping the already developed portions heading toward the refinement phase. I always suggest Peter Adams book on Bonsai with Japanese Maples. It's simple to understand, great illustrations, and examples of his trees. You get to look into the brain of someone thinking about maple design. Some of the horticulture stuff is a bit out-dated, but if you read for purely design understanding and how to build design over time, there is a wealth of information.
^^^^^This^^^^^
But start in 2020 after you airlayered the parts you want off !
 

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