ScrogginsBonsai

Seedling
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Hello, I am new to Bonsai and have been doing a ton of research and have gathered my materials and have even shaped a couple of small beginner trees. My question is about my Japanese maple I was gifted. I need help getting the trunk to thicken and establishing a strong nebari. I got over zealous and have already wired it but am considering doing a major chop of it to get more thickness and lower growth. My question is what time of year (zone 4/5) is best for a major cut back, where on the tree is best to cut and is that even the best idea for what I've got?00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20190714175342128_COVER.jpg Any help and advice would be hugely appreciated!
 

Paulpash

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It would be wise to remove the wire - it's not actually doing anything - it's far too thin and will probably end up cutting in and ruining the trunk.

To increase the trunk caliper ground growing is best but it will be 4-5 years before you see significant difference. In the meantime, I'd purchase something like a Chinese Elm that you can actually practice the joys of watering and fertilizing and generally keeping it horticulturally happy. Elms are fast growers and very forgiving of pruning & wiring mishaps all beginners face. Going to a club is the best way to learn more and more experienced folk might give you additional stuff to practice on.
 

Shinjuku

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Welcome to bonsai, and welcome to the forum. I hope that you find this to be a rewarding and long-term hobby.

In addition to what Paul wrote above, I'd say that if you want to thicken the trunk, doing a major chop at this point would be the most counterproductive thing that you could do. There's a lot of science and detail to it, but in general, the way to grow a trunk the fastest is to make sure the tree has plenty of room for lots of roots to grow (either in the ground or in a large pot), give the tree proper sun/water/fertilizer, and give it a few years to grow before you chop anything. If you want a thicker trunk, then you must grow lots of roots and branches first. Limiting or reducing roots/branches at this point will just slow down the thickening of the trunk.

Here's a very informative article on how to thicken trunks: https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/trunks.htm

One of the common mistakes that people new to bonsai make (and I'm not saying that you're doing this, just saying in general) is that they "love their tree to death." They are so excited about bonsai that they do too much to the tree too fast, and it causes so much stress for the tree that it dies. Make sure that you put just as much, if not more, effort into keeping your tree alive and healthy as you do styling it into a bonsai.

Paul gave very good advice in also getting a few more trees. When a tree is very young like your Japanese maple is, there's only a little bit of "stuff to do" to it per season. If you have 5 trees, for example, your little bit of "stuff to do" multiplies by 5. It would give you a lot more "stuff to do," meaning that you'll get more practice and learn more quickly without loving your tree to death. Home Depot, Lowe's, or garden centers often have good starter trees and shrubs for $10 or less.

Also, if you update your profile to add in your general location, then people can give you advice more specific for your particular location. Keep up your research and never stop learning!
 
D

Deleted member 21616

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welcome to the forum, to bonsai, and to the wonderful world of japanese maples @ScrogginsBonsai !

I would recommend adding your location for your profile to make discussion easier

ground growing is certainly an option, but in zone 4/5 where you said you are a it is unlikely for most japanese maples to survive the winter outdoors without significant protection. that said, even if you keep your tree in a pot, it will be important to provide it with protection throughout the winter. this will be a fun research topic for you if you have not already explored it.

most of my japanese maples are at the same stage as yours (see attached). as already noted above, your current wire is serving little purpose if any. at this stage, (although it is perhaps too late in terms of season and also in terms of the development of the tree) you will want exaggerated movement in the trunk because, as the trunk thickens, the movement will become less apparent. if you cannot introduce movement with wire to this tree, do not worry! This tree will eventually produce branches down low, which you will be able to select and wire as the new leader (making it your new trunk) and eventually remove what is currently serving as your trunk.

as for thickening the trunk and developing the nebari, i was taught to do this in a pot using time. for now, grow the tree in the current pot. when it is time to repot (also a fun research topic), i would meet with a local club member, instructor, or bonsai nurseryman, perform the repot with them, and talk maples during the repot!

if you have not already found it, the "ebihara thread" is perhaps the one most recommended on this forum when it comes to maples:


happy reading!
 

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D

Deleted member 21616

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edit (i'm not able to edit the post above for some reason):

in my learning, having no background in the sciences, the free Spring Fundamentals and Fall Physiology videos by Mirai (Ryan Neil) were an eye opener! I've re-watched them 4-5 times now (every few months), and i catch brand new information from them every time! But that's just how I personally learn best.


 

ScrogginsBonsai

Seedling
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Uhm wow this response has been amazing thanks guys! So I do have a few other varites I am playing with knowing that the maple was gonna be a long term project. I think I'm going to unwire it and just leave it alone in that deep pot for a couple growing seasons and then ground plant it once I have a more permanent residence. I live in Colorado so dry climate and cold sunny winters. In my modest collection so far I have a juniper, false Cypress, boxwood and a few hibiscus stems. I want to get a burning bush next I think. I really just want to get into styling and doing the fun stuff while I develop some larger specimens for down the road. My folks also have some mountain property I'm gonna go tree hunting on as soon as I can get up there
 

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