Am I mistaken to avoid grafted maples?

emk

Mame
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My wife and I both have a passion for exotic plants (me for bonsai material and her...for everything else), so when she let me know she was ordering a few things from an online retailer (who will remain nameless for the time being) I took a quick look at their offerings in case they sold anything I'd had a hard time finding locally. Well, they did have a few maple varieties I hadn't been able to get my hands on, so I ordered an Acer palm. 'Kashima' and an Acer palm. 'Chishio Improved'. They arrived about a week later and as soon as I took a look at them, I felt ripped off: they were grafted! Not only that, but they were pretty bad grafts even to my untrained eye (a few inches up the trunk and the color of the bark doesn't match top to bottom).

Okay, I realize that I probably should have asked the seller about this before I ordered them, so I'm not really knocking them for this, but it did get me thinking about *why* a seller would graft these kind of trees without mentioning it in their catalogue description or to offer both grafted and ungrafted versions of the same tree. Maybe I'm just too picky, but as far as I was concerned, I was paying X dollars for a 'Kashima' Maple...not $X for a Sugar Maple wearing a 'Kashima' hat.

Now, I imagine that after I let these trees grow for about 10 years they will thicken enough that I can find ways to obscure the graft unions, and I can always air-layer some branches for "pure" material to work on over time, but the awkward location of the unions will make it so I can never really have the design freedom I would like to have had with these trees.

Really, am I being unreasonably picky? Should I just be more careful about where I get my exotic trees from? Or should I just get used to grafted material as a fact of life and just find ways to work around it?
 

Glider

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I don't think you're being too picky at all. I don't think the seller is really at fault either. Most nursery retailers (like most 'domestic' nurseries, sell plants for the garden and maples are very popular as feature plants in gardens. Most domestic nursery stock will be grafted as these cultivars tend to do better on stronger roots.

However, for bonsai, these grafts are a major pain.; They almost never get better over time and, in some cases, get considerably worse due to the growth difference between the scion and rootstock.

It's really just a case of buying for purpose. That seller is selling trees for a particular purpose, but you are buyiing trees for a different purpose.

Nevertheless, thare are options. You could airlayer above the graft, which would also help form a nice nebari and radial root system which, in all likelihood, these trees don't have at the moment. Or, you can use them as a source of cuttings and airlayered branches (i.e. to get many trees from a few).
 

Vance Wood

Lord Mugo
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I don't think you're being too picky at all. I don't think the seller is really at fault either. Most nursery retailers (like most 'domestic' nurseries, sell plants for the garden and maples are very popular as feature plants in gardens. Most domestic nursery stock will be grafted as these cultivars tend to do better on stronger roots.

However, for bonsai, these grafts are a major pain.; They almost never get better over time and, in some cases, get considerably worse due to the growth difference between the scion and rootstock.

It's really just a case of buying for purpose. That seller is selling trees for a particular purpose, but you are buyiing trees for a different purpose.

Nevertheless, thare are options. You could airlayer above the graft, which would also help form a nice nebari and radial root system which, in all likelihood, these trees don't have at the moment. Or, you can use them as a source of cuttings and airlayered branches (i.e. to get many trees from a few).
Just for the sake of clarification: Most named, Japanese Maple, cultivars must be grown from either grafts or cuttings. Commercial use of air layerings in any field but bonsai is not common or even used at all. However; the cultivation of these "exotic" Japanese Maple cultivars is not possible except through cloning, grafts or cuttings. Most J.Maples do not grow well from cuttings, so that really leaves the grafting practice as the only commercially practical method of reproduction. Incidentially the word cultivar means cultivated by man. These trees will not grow true to form from seed.

Does this mean you should not seek out these trees? Not necessarily, there are some that have very good grafts that will be un-noticable over time and are worth the effort to grow. As was mentioned you could clone your own Maples but this takes at least five years unless you air layer.
 

JasonG

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Here is a killer JMaple that is grafted http://jasonsbonsai.blogspot.com/2008/03/japanese-maple.html

This was field grown for 25 yrs. We got a few hundered of them....that are a few years away from selling unless you show up in person.

Anyways, the best way to get good grafted material is to avoid trees grafted for nursery material as 99.9%are grafted to high to ever be any good for bonsai. Find a nursery that will graft very low on root stalk for you and have them do 50 or so for you, it shouldn't cost that much money. But out of those 50 you can sell a few or trade to friends and outr of 50 trees only 5 or so will ever be any good for bonsai.....

Just what I would do if I really wanted to go that route.

Jason
 
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Well, to reopen an old thread... rather than avoiding a grafted maple, an option is to air or ground layer above the graft. Then you get the variety you like on it's own roots. Plus the nebari will certainly be better.
 

emk

Mame
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Well, to reopen an old thread... rather than avoiding a grafted maple, an option is to air or ground layer above the graft. Then you get the variety you like on it's own roots. Plus the nebari will certainly be better.
Actually, that's *exactly* what I'm planning to do this spring. Thanks for the advice, by the way. :)
 

TheSteve

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here's another big grafted maple. Skinless no less. It got a little buzz sawing to go along with new branch encouragement. Grafts aren't the end of the world just takes time.
 

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Bonsai Nut

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I buy grafted maples as the only way to get uncommon cultivars. Then grow the heck out of them and airlayer them above the graft. As has been pointed out - some cultivars are reported to have weak root structures (I cannot confirm or deny).
 

Dale Cochoy

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Here is a Bloodgood Maple I'm working on ( which folks say don't make good bonsai:confused: ). It was grafted. The trick is finding trees with nice grafts that were pretty low when looking at nursery stock. This was originally a 7-9 foot tall field grown tree w/ severe top winter kill. I got it cheap, along with a few others. BTW, you an get a good idea of size from the oval pot I made, its about 21" across as I recall.
Also, a better front pic before it was potted. BTW, THAT root is gone now! ;)

Dale
 

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