Advice for Vine Maple (Acer Circinatum)

Sir_Nixon

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Hello,

This is my first year as a bonsai enthusiast and the proud owner of some very cool and fun specimens. I have recently acquired a 40 year old Vine maple (Acer Circinatum) that I have some questions about the pruning and development of. The previous owner has left the branches to become quite long and I am wanting to condense the branching. With this being my first, and old, deciduous tree, I am hesitant to start trimming branches in fear of killing or ruining the tree. If I was to rough shape/trim the tree and cut some old branches, will it bud back to re-develop the branching structure?

Due to the last repotting done in 2013, I was also thinking of just repotting in the early spring and allowing the tree to gain vigor before even thinking about trimming branches in a year or so. Any thoughts? I appreciate your time in helping me. I have attached some pictures for reference.
 

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0soyoung

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They are very similar to Japanese maples both biologically and with respect to bonsai horticulture.

I'm guessing this means nothing to you. So, you can cut back to a visible bud now. Often times one can cut back further, but sometimes the branch will die back to another node or die altogether. Likewise, you can do this in spring as the buds begin to swell. Of course, cut back is per you desires for shape and structure - if you don't want to cut that far back, don't; just don't cut further than a visible bud even if you want to cut further.

In spring, the appropriate time to repot is "as buds swell" which you will prolong by cutting back. But, at some point the buds will crack anyway and you can also repot then. Just gently comb the roots out radially and prune them to fit the pot. To this end, I suggest you invert the pot it is going into, sit the tree atop that with the trunk sitting atop the center (drain hole), and cut the roots back to the edge(s) of the pot. Then fit wires to hold the tree, flip the pot upright, toss a bit of substrate on the bottom, sit the roots flat atop this, tighten the wires to the point the tree is snugly bound to the pot, cover them with more substrate, and water it thoroughly.

Then let it grow. Sometime around May the new shoots will stop extending and all the leaves with be 'hardened' (meaning dark green and held out flat). Take out your hedge shears and cut the canopy into the shape you want, generally keeping a leaf pair on every branch. Let it grow. Repeat when you see the growth again pause which it likely will do again circa August. Of course, this hedge pruning will like create some knobs/knots/unsightlinees - you can clean this up after leaf drop or early the following spring. Similarly, you may hesitate literally using hedge shears - they are not required --> just cut back how ever fussily you wish in that fashion == leave at least one leaf pair on stems.

When I say 'leaf pair', I mean a node that has at least a leaf on it. One often removes one of every leaf pair on densely foliated Japanese maples so that light gets through the canopy. So a node, which normally had two opposed leaves, may just have one.

With repotting this coming year, I suggest you do NOT defoliate next year. Maybe in 2021 you do and I suggest that you only defoliate in spring (prior to the summer solstice) in conjunction with the spring hedge pruning --> hedge prune and remove the remaining leaves.

ezpz except for the patience that it will take to not be overly eager. If rapid eagerness is a problem, go buy several more trees and work on them meanwhile.
 

Sir_Nixon

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They are very similar to Japanese maples both biologically and with respect to bonsai horticulture.

I'm guessing this means nothing to you. So, you can cut back to a visible bud now. Often times one can cut back further, but sometimes the branch will die back to another node or die altogether. Likewise, you can do this in spring as the buds begin to swell. Of course, cut back is per you desires for shape and structure - if you don't want to cut that far back, don't; just don't cut further than a visible bud even if you want to cut further.

In spring, the appropriate time to repot is "as buds swell" which you will prolong by cutting back. But, at some point the buds will crack anyway and you can also repot then. Just gently comb the roots out radially and prune them to fit the pot. To this end, I suggest you invert the pot it is going into, sit the tree atop that with the trunk sitting atop the center (drain hole), and cut the roots back to the edge(s) of the pot. Then fit wires to hold the tree, flip the pot upright, toss a bit of substrate on the bottom, sit the roots flat atop this, tighten the wires to the point the tree is snugly bound to the pot, cover them with more substrate, and water it thoroughly.

Then let it grow. Sometime around May the new shoots will stop extending and all the leaves with be 'hardened' (meaning dark green and held out flat). Take out your hedge shears and cut the canopy into the shape you want, generally keeping a leaf pair on every branch. Let it grow. Repeat when you see the growth again pause which it likely will do again circa August. Of course, this hedge pruning will like create some knobs/knots/unsightlinees - you can clean this up after leaf drop or early the following spring. Similarly, you may hesitate literally using hedge shears - they are not required --> just cut back how ever fussily you wish in that fashion == leave at least one leaf pair on stems.

When I say 'leaf pair', I mean a node that has at least a leaf on it. One often removes one of every leaf pair on densely foliated Japanese maples so that light gets through the canopy. So a node, which normally had two opposed leaves, may just have one.

With repotting this coming year, I suggest you do NOT defoliate next year. Maybe in 2021 you do and I suggest that you only defoliate in spring (prior to the summer solstice) in conjunction with the spring hedge pruning --> hedge prune and remove the remaining leaves.

ezpz except for the patience that it will take to not be overly eager. If rapid eagerness is a problem, go buy several more trees and work on them meanwhile.
Thanks for taking the time to respond and really appreciate the advice. Can't wait to repot come spring time!!
 

Potawatomi13

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Do you know Michael Hagedorn yet? One of Portlands Masters and loves Vine Maple. Look up Cretageus Bonsai and check pics of his trees there. Attend Portland Bonsai Society meeting and might meet him. Best advice is there;). Personally would not get too rambunctious yet. Tree has some nice curves and some wire could make very interesting.
 

parhamr

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In the wild, deer and elk will strip Vine Maple back to bare stumps and they hardly skip a beat.

Go for it :)
 

Sir_Nixon

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I don’t know Michael, but am going to try and start going to the monthly meetings. Ha that’s good know, cause as a newbie, I’m nervous to cut anything. Think I will repot and watch the tree respond before I do anything. Thank everyone!!
 

Sir_Nixon

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They are very similar to Japanese maples both biologically and with respect to bonsai horticulture.

I'm guessing this means nothing to you. So, you can cut back to a visible bud now. Often times one can cut back further, but sometimes the branch will die back to another node or die altogether. Likewise, you can do this in spring as the buds begin to swell. Of course, cut back is per you desires for shape and structure - if you don't want to cut that far back, don't; just don't cut further than a visible bud even if you want to cut further.

In spring, the appropriate time to repot is "as buds swell" which you will prolong by cutting back. But, at some point the buds will crack anyway and you can also repot then. Just gently comb the roots out radially and prune them to fit the pot. To this end, I suggest you invert the pot it is going into, sit the tree atop that with the trunk sitting atop the center (drain hole), and cut the roots back to the edge(s) of the pot. Then fit wires to hold the tree, flip the pot upright, toss a bit of substrate on the bottom, sit the roots flat atop this, tighten the wires to the point the tree is snugly bound to the pot, cover them with more substrate, and water it thoroughly.

Then let it grow. Sometime around May the new shoots will stop extending and all the leaves with be 'hardened' (meaning dark green and held out flat). Take out your hedge shears and cut the canopy into the shape you want, generally keeping a leaf pair on every branch. Let it grow. Repeat when you see the growth again pause which it likely will do again circa August. Of course, this hedge pruning will like create some knobs/knots/unsightlinees - you can clean this up after leaf drop or early the following spring. Similarly, you may hesitate literally using hedge shears - they are not required --> just cut back how ever fussily you wish in that fashion == leave at least one leaf pair on stems.

When I say 'leaf pair', I mean a node that has at least a leaf on it. One often removes one of every leaf pair on densely foliated Japanese maples so that light gets through the canopy. So a node, which normally had two opposed leaves, may just have one.

With repotting this coming year, I suggest you do NOT defoliate next year. Maybe in 2021 you do and I suggest that you only defoliate in spring (prior to the summer solstice) in conjunction with the spring hedge pruning --> hedge prune and remove the remaining leaves.

ezpz except for the patience that it will take to not be overly eager. If rapid eagerness is a problem, go buy several more trees and work on them meanwhile.
When reporting in the spring, would you suggest washing the roots after root pruning, or just comb out the previous soil?
 

0soyoung

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When reporting in the spring, would you suggest washing the roots after root pruning, or just comb out the previous soil?
Yes, I suggest that you gently wash away all organic soil from the roots. I do this with everything. I grow nursery stock and stuff I've dug from my home's landscape (no yamadori). This is imperative with any field grown B&B as it is inevitably dense clay soil. I've found half bare rooting to be necessary with p. thunbergii roots, but still, I jet old soil out with a garden hose, though only from the hbr side.

I grow things in nothing but an inorganic substrate and fertilize with Osmocote-Plus at the rate of one-quarter to one-half teaspoon per pot-gallon (about 80% of a true gallon) twice a year. Mycorrhiza shows up in most, if not all, of my pots, if that is what you are concerned about.
 

Sir_Nixon

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Sounds good. Thank you. There is so much back and fourth on the internet you don’t know what to do
 

Sir_Nixon

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They are very similar to Japanese maples both biologically and with respect to bonsai horticulture.

I'm guessing this means nothing to you. So, you can cut back to a visible bud now. Often times one can cut back further, but sometimes the branch will die back to another node or die altogether. Likewise, you can do this in spring as the buds begin to swell. Of course, cut back is per you desires for shape and structure - if you don't want to cut that far back, don't; just don't cut further than a visible bud even if you want to cut further.

In spring, the appropriate time to repot is "as buds swell" which you will prolong by cutting back. But, at some point the buds will crack anyway and you can also repot then. Just gently comb the roots out radially and prune them to fit the pot. To this end, I suggest you invert the pot it is going into, sit the tree atop that with the trunk sitting atop the center (drain hole), and cut the roots back to the edge(s) of the pot. Then fit wires to hold the tree, flip the pot upright, toss a bit of substrate on the bottom, sit the roots flat atop this, tighten the wires to the point the tree is snugly bound to the pot, cover them with more substrate, and water it thoroughly.

Then let it grow. Sometime around May the new shoots will stop extending and all the leaves with be 'hardened' (meaning dark green and held out flat). Take out your hedge shears and cut the canopy into the shape you want, generally keeping a leaf pair on every branch. Let it grow. Repeat when you see the growth again pause which it likely will do again circa August. Of course, this hedge pruning will like create some knobs/knots/unsightlinees - you can clean this up after leaf drop or early the following spring. Similarly, you may hesitate literally using hedge shears - they are not required --> just cut back how ever fussily you wish in that fashion == leave at least one leaf pair on stems.

When I say 'leaf pair', I mean a node that has at least a leaf on it. One often removes one of every leaf pair on densely foliated Japanese maples so that light gets through the canopy. So a node, which normally had two opposed leaves, may just have one.

With repotting this coming year, I suggest you do NOT defoliate next year. Maybe in 2021 you do and I suggest that you only defoliate in spring (prior to the summer solstice) in conjunction with the spring hedge pruning --> hedge prune and remove the remaining leaves.

ezpz except for the patience that it will take to not be overly eager. If rapid eagerness is a problem, go buy several more trees and work on them meanwhile.

The repotting went fantastic and the new spring growth has hardened off. I re-read your suggestion to cut back to a leaf pair, but the new growth only extended one leaf pair. And some of the shoots are 1-2” in length. Would it be a bad idea to cut off the long new growth, or would the branch die? Or bud at the same point as the beginning of the spring growth?

image.jpg
 

Sir_Nixon

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They are very similar to Japanese maples both biologically and with respect to bonsai horticulture.

I'm guessing this means nothing to you. So, you can cut back to a visible bud now. Often times one can cut back further, but sometimes the branch will die back to another node or die altogether. Likewise, you can do this in spring as the buds begin to swell. Of course, cut back is per you desires for shape and structure - if you don't want to cut that far back, don't; just don't cut further than a visible bud even if you want to cut further.

In spring, the appropriate time to repot is "as buds swell" which you will prolong by cutting back. But, at some point the buds will crack anyway and you can also repot then. Just gently comb the roots out radially and prune them to fit the pot. To this end, I suggest you invert the pot it is going into, sit the tree atop that with the trunk sitting atop the center (drain hole), and cut the roots back to the edge(s) of the pot. Then fit wires to hold the tree, flip the pot upright, toss a bit of substrate on the bottom, sit the roots flat atop this, tighten the wires to the point the tree is snugly bound to the pot, cover them with more substrate, and water it thoroughly.

Then let it grow. Sometime around May the new shoots will stop extending and all the leaves with be 'hardened' (meaning dark green and held out flat). Take out your hedge shears and cut the canopy into the shape you want, generally keeping a leaf pair on every branch. Let it grow. Repeat when you see the growth again pause which it likely will do again circa August. Of course, this hedge pruning will like create some knobs/knots/unsightlinees - you can clean this up after leaf drop or early the following spring. Similarly, you may hesitate literally using hedge shears - they are not required --> just cut back how ever fussily you wish in that fashion == leave at least one leaf pair on stems.

When I say 'leaf pair', I mean a node that has at least a leaf on it. One often removes one of every leaf pair on densely foliated Japanese maples so that light gets through the canopy. So a node, which normally had two opposed leaves, may just have one.

With repotting this coming year, I suggest you do NOT defoliate next year. Maybe in 2021 you do and I suggest that you only defoliate in spring (prior to the summer solstice) in conjunction with the spring hedge pruning --> hedge prune and remove the remaining leaves.

ezpz except for the patience that it will take to not be overly eager. If rapid eagerness is a problem, go buy several more trees and work on them meanwhile.

The repotting went fantastic and the new spring growth has hardened off. I re-read your suggestion to cut back to a leaf pair, but the new growth only extended one leaf pair. And some of the shoots are 1-2” in length. Would it be a bad idea to cut off the long new growth, or would the branch die? Or bud at the same point as the beginning of the spring growth?

View attachment 299298
 

0soyoung

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So in your pic there's a long new internode with a visible node at its base (or at the tip of the older, red internode). You can cut that one back now, if you want. The potential problem arises only if you were to do this to the entire tree now - it would weaken the tree, which you may want, but the tree's response can become quite unpredictable (I say that as those I can see the future 🤣 ).

It is common for maple leaves to overlay one another. so a common practice is to remove one of every pair of leaves. It has a modest to nil negative effect because shaded leaves are unproductive anyway. Use this as a guide.

Also, bear in mind that the quicker you are at removing effective leaf area (by cutting back or defoliating) the less thickening you will get. In your pic, there appears to be a pair of short nodes on both sides of the bifurcation. These nodes are 'forever'. The longer you keep the new, long green internode with its two leaves, the thicker the associate stem will be, but those two internodes will still be there to exploit. yada, yada, yada
 

Sir_Nixon

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So in your pic there's a long new internode with a visible node at its base (or at the tip of the older, red internode). You can cut that one back now, if you want. The potential problem arises only if you were to do this to the entire tree now - it would weaken the tree, which you may want, but the tree's response can become quite unpredictable (I say that as those I can see the future 🤣 ).

It is common for maple leaves to overlay one another. so a common practice is to remove one of every pair of leaves. It has a modest to nil negative effect because shaded leaves are unproductive anyway. Use this as a guide.

Also, bear in mind that the quicker you are at removing effective leaf area (by cutting back or defoliating) the less thickening you will get. In your pic, there appears to be a pair of short nodes on both sides of the bifurcation. These nodes are 'forever'. The longer you keep the new, long green internode with its two leaves, the thicker the associate stem will be, but those two internodes will still be there to exploit. yada, yada, yada

Thanks for the help! I'll just cut back the ones that grew really long and try some leaf defoliation
 

0soyoung

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I've read that the bud sheaths, especially those of the initial push of the season are auxin producers that contribute to shoot elongation. Frankly, I am quite skeptical, but you might try removing those sheaths (carefully!) - I continue testing the idea but not in any methodical way. So far my skepticism is winning.

The main auxin producer is the apical meristem that will expose itself between the two leaves first out of the bud. Pinching it away as soon as you can find it (tweezers are helpful) is, IMHO, the primary 'hook' for shortening the internode.
And, now that I think about it, the leaves themselves are auxin producers that might also contribute to elongation --> maybe promptly removing one of the pair would also help to shorten the new internode, ASAP.

Keeping it root bound also helps.

Ironically it seems to me that the naturalistic image is most popular with Hagedorn & Co.
Are you sure that you want to be doing this short internode stuff? ;)
 

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