Alpenweiss Japanese Maple


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Near Baton Rouge, Louisiana
I recently bought a cutting grown 'Alpenweiss' JM. It's a cool variegate (pictures to follow). So far I plan to put a branch bender to the lower trunk to get some movement lower down and then start the whole grow out/chop trunk thing. I'm looking at this to be a light, airy informal upright. It's got a pretty good nebari which I plan to work on in a few years, it's just too young and the nebari to small to mess with right now. Overall it's healthy and beautiful and i'm just enjoying it for what it is.

Does anyone have any suggestions/comments? I posted a picture of the whole tree, the really variegated leaves (vigorous growth doesn't always show it), and the nebari.



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If it were mine here is what I would do. Plant it in the ground. Then you can do a ground layer immediately. It will root out for sure if you do it right. Then you will have two trees. Then let the original grow and grow! Then as it gets bigger, take some air layers off it. Then you can fatten up the original tree while making more and more.

Good luck.
Variegated maples

don't really make ideal bonsai material. The colors tend to make the bonsai look sick. This is mostly an optical illusion and some people can live with it. Although if you're showing your bonsai to people unfamiliar with variegated maples, they will inevitably ask "what's wrong with the tree?" as they notice the color. In a landscape planting, leaf variegation makes the plant striking because of the mass of leaves. In a bonsai container, that's not possible. On a bonsai with maybe a hundred leaves (on a smaller specimen) the individual leaves just wind up looking "off."

I'd also question the use of a branch bender on a tree this small. Wiring the trunk would produce more even results from the ground up. The branch bender produces a single curve, while wire would produce more "movement" in the trunk.
Hi rockm and grizzlywon,

thanks for the tips. I am not really planning for this tree to be a "world class" bonsai, more of one just for me. So I'm not really planning to show it much. I see what you mean (rockm) about the variegation but I don't mind it...i think that it looks cool!

grizzlywon, I have since thought about it and feel that it is not ready to put out yet. I'm going to put it out within 5 years (most likely) but it is only 2 years old, I think. Material like this, especially down here in Louisiana, would burn and not do well if planted out this young. But that is eventually on my list of things to do for this tree.

Thank you both for the tips. I have since realized that wiring the trunk would be a better idea; it's still small enough. Oh and I AM planning to do some air-layers on this tree. :D

Part of the reason that I wanted to do something with this tree is because of the nebari. The picture I gave is not very good but it has a wonderful radial root spread.

Once again, thank you all! I feel like I have better direction as to where this tree is "going"
If it were mine here is what I would do. Plant it in the ground. Then you can do a ground layer immediately. It will root out for sure if you do it right. Then you will have two trees. Then let the original grow and grow! Then as it gets bigger, take some air layers off it. Then you can fatten up the original tree while making more and more.

Good luck.

Just a slight note here. Ground layering won't give you two trees. Air layering will. Ground layer is solely for new roots.
Actually, ground laying will give you two trees if you do the layer anywhere but at the roots. I'm talking about bending the tree down to the ground. I just did this with an Amur Maple and now have two trees. Ground layering can be done anywhere on the tree that touches the ground. An example of this would be Blackberries that naturally ground layer themselves all the time.

When you say "put it out," does that mean you are growing it indoors? Not a good idea unless you have the right lighting, etc. If you plant it out in some shade I would think it would do fine. I have 110 degrees where I live and maples love it. Although they can burn if in the full sun all the time.
Ah, I get what you're saying now. I think air layering would be easier on an upright tree like this though....
No I'm not planning on growing indoors. It's outside right now and will stay in a pot for a few more years until it gets some age on it, then I'll put it in the ground and chop/grow out for taper and diameter. I'm planning to do some air layers on this tree but not quite yet, it's just too young

Also might note...

That this looks like it might be grafted. A ground layer below the graft mark will produce a clone of the base stock, not the grafted stock. Above the graft, layers will produce the variegated stock, which may not be as root hardy as the parent tree, since special varieties of maples are thought to be less hardy on their own roots. Specialty varieties like variegated, rough bark, congested leaf and others are all mostly propagated via graft for a number of reasons, weaker roots are supposedly one of those (the primary reason is such specialty varieties don't produce "true" seeds.
This one is not grafted. I have I over 30 RARE JM cultivars and I know what a graft looks like. I bought this one from someone that I've gotten over 20 of my JMs from; she gets her stock from a wholesale nursery and this one was rooted specifically for bonsai culture.


It looks like a possible low graft to me. Low grafts are done with bonsai in mind...
this particular wholesale nursery basically supplies the US with landscape A. palmatum, etc. I have probably 20 of their plants and the "low grafts" for them are about 2 inches off of the soil level and not done spectacularly. But this one is obviously cutting grown; I'll try to get a better picture of the lower trunk so it is clearer. But I repotted it and there is absolutely no sign of a graft; it would be very obvious at this point since the plant is so young. ;)
I also have a maple of this wonderful type. it is about 10 years old wonderful root spread and nice branching.
It also is not a graft but a great little maple for my own looking and Bonsai use. Sorry no pictures as I have yet
to get them posted in here.
'Alpenweiss' is one of the larger leaf type Japanese maples. If it were mine, I would plan a tree more in the 2 to 3 feet tall range for my finished bonsai. That way the size of the leaves will not be as big of an issue. I like these variegates, this is similar to some of the "Ghost" series. 'Grandma's Ghost' and 'Purple Ghost' are two of the more popular. They are stunning trees as full size landscape trees. I have not seen any as bonsai yet. But I imagine they will be stunning as bonsai too.

Unfortunately subtlety is key in bonsai, so "stunning" might not be well received. However, I would go for it just for my own amusement.
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