Acer palmatum trunk chop advice

PeaceBD

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I found this acer palmatum along with the shishigashira I posted earlier. This has some nice base and the trunk is around an inch. It also needs a repot badly as its in a 3 G pot with all soil washed off around the roots. I added some chopped up sphagnum moss to cover the soil and around the base as soon as I got it home. It’s almost 7 feet tall with no branches at the first 4-5 feet. I really liked how small the leaves were on this one. They are about 1-1.5 inches. I would like to air layer it before I can cop the trunk. I am experimenting for the first time with air layering Japanese maples on a couple of others I have and if those work I will try it on this one. Any advice on the chop and repotting would be appreciated.
 

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Maloghurst

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I would say if you had branches/leaves under the top portion then you could airlayer now. But since it is mostly bare I would wait until next spring. Then airlayer at one of the two red areas. Leaving the trunk to produce lower branching then consider where to prune to a new leader.
If you want to just try and airlayer a small branch (in yellow) then you could try one now without fear of killing the entire tree.
4E99A029-D33B-462D-BDA2-05060258256F.jpeg
 

0soyoung

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There is a standard nurseryman gig to 'up-pot'. Get the next size bigger pot (5g in this case), knock the (3g, in this case) pot off, loosen the roots on the outside, and put it in the bigger pot. Back fill with a similar soil/substrate - I suggest a mix of bark and garden soil. You can then continue growing as is for 2 or 3 years and up-pot again, etc., etc. OR you can deal with it when it is a good time to repot/bare-root to exchange the substrate.

As for air layering, it affects the tree pretty much like chopping. Make girdle at a position a few nodes above the ground and it should pop new shoots from one or more of those nodes. You can also start additional layers now, just be sure that each segment (between stem girdles) has folige. Shouldn't be a problem to have harvestable layers before the end of the season in your warm climate, but if you don't, just leave them in situ over the winter and you'll get additional adventitious root development after the new foliage has hardened next spring.
 

parhamr

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It would help to know more—what do you envision you’ll make of this tree? A rough guess of the “finished” height of tree and the diameter of the trunk (at its base) would be helpful.

Could you take a look at pics of maple bonsai you like and post them here?

I’ve seen general advice that a tree might be ready for a trunk chop once it’s about 1/3 of the way to the desired thickness.

In short: it depends :)
 

PeaceBD

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I would say if you had branches/leaves under the top portion then you could airlayer now. But since it is mostly bare I would wait until next spring. Then airlayer at one of the two red areas. Leaving the trunk to produce lower branching then consider where to prune to a new leader.
If you want to just try and airlayer a small branch (in yellow) then you could try one now without fear of killing the entire tree.
View attachment 248497
Thanks a lot for the detailed explanation and the markers. They definitely help. I am pretty new to air layering so since I have still not made my first successful AL I will opt to go with the yellow one.I will do that one tomorrow. I will plan to do the air layer on the main stem next spring. Is there a way to encourage branch growth on the lower section for next spring?
 

PeaceBD

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There is a standard nurseryman gig to 'up-pot'. Get the next size bigger pot (5g in this case), knock the (3g, in this case) pot off, loosen the roots on the outside, and put it in the bigger pot. Back fill with a similar soil/substrate - I suggest a mix of bark and garden soil. You can then continue growing as is for 2 or 3 years and up-pot again, etc., etc. OR you can deal with it when it is a good time to repot/bare-root to exchange the substrate.

As for air layering, it affects the tree pretty much like chopping. Make girdle at a position a few nodes above the ground and it should pop new shoots from one or more of those nodes. You can also start additional layers now, just be sure that each segment (between stem girdles) has folige. Shouldn't be a problem to have harvestable layers before the end of the season in your warm climate, but if you don't, just leave them in situ over the winter and you'll get additional adventitious root development after the new foliage has hardened next spring.
Thanks a lot for the tip about up-potting. Would you recommend do that along with the air layer on one of the smaller branches at the top ? I have a sharps pygmy which I have had for 4 years now in a grow pot potted in expanded shale, optisorb, pine bark and some potting soil. I was thinking of using that same combo .
 

PeaceBD

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It would help to know more—what do you envision you’ll make of this tree? A rough guess of the “finished” height of tree and the diameter of the trunk (at its base) would be helpful.

Could you take a look at pics of maple bonsai you like and post them here?

I’ve seen general advice that a tree might be ready for a trunk chop once it’s about 1/3 of the way to the desired thickness.

In short: it depends :)
When I saw this tree the idea was to make the root flare balanced on all sides and eventually repeat chop the trunk to give it more movement. For long term I am hoping for something like this.
 

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