Bloodgood garden stock - ideas for growth within the hobby

LiquidTension

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I recently purchased a 6 foot tall Bloodgood Japanese Maple. My goal with the purchase was to get a healthy tree for a great price, which I can use for future mother cuttings, but also experimentation to grow my knowledge within the hobby. I have never air layer for example, or for pushing for growth quickly. I have never split a trunk, etc. I was hoping to get some potential feedback as its not particularly interesting as a bonsai but is a beautiful tree.

The last picture is a closer view of about 3 feet tall, apologies for the leaves blowing in the way. I was personally thinking taking 10-20 cuttings from the top, and trying to air layer the middle location pictured when it develops slightly larger.
 

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LiquidTension

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I wanted to try to ask a more direct question to the maple experts. Would you air layer here, arrow in picture

Or would you not touch it yet, curious for expert opinion.
 

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LiquidTension

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This tree again is about 7 feet tall, and was wanting to split it in half into two, but I dont fully understand if the foliage will support it? Would you push it for growth?

I am also trying an air pot for the first time with this tree.
 

Eckhoffw

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If your able to keep this tree in the ground in your climate/region, I’d probably put it in the ground. let it have a season off, then air layer as you wish.
 

Eckhoffw

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By adding you location / climate zone, in your profile, you will receive mo’ betta’ help. 😀
 

Adair M

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My advice is if you are going to do all this work, create so many trees, spend your time caring for them, why not do it with a cultivar with better characteristics for bonsai? Bloodgoods have long internodes which make them hard if not impossible to get fine ramification and dense twigging. They make lovely garden trees, and that’s what your tree should be.
 
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Hello @LiquidTension and glad you found this awesome bonsai site!

When I was new to the hobby, I also bought a Bloodgood and pretty much learned all the things NOT to do LOL. What @Adair M says is correct about Bloodgood's long internodes; nevertheless it is your tree and experimenting is how we learn. If it were my tree, I would let it rest a season before working on it BUT -- I have lots of other trees to entertain me. I think you might consider doing one thing maybe with the tree this year....perhaps an airlayer but farther up the trunk. Where your arrow is pointing would have quite many leaves to be supported by new roots and might not succeed. I am not an airlayer expert and don't even play one on TV LOL.

Depending on your location and your interests, I have found that purchasing a flowering quince, a cotoneaster, or one of the ubiquitous small junipers from a garden center/big box store gives lots of chances to root trim, chop, wire and plant in a pot. Quince especially back bud like mad after a chop, and you have the possibility of flowers which is always a plus in my mind.

Do you have soil, any pots (mica are fine for starters), wire, tools? Think about what you need to gather before you go to the garden center.

Good luck in the hobby and keep us informed on this thread!
 

dbonsaiw

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Not all Japanese maples are created equal as far as bonsai is concerned. When I'm not familiar with a particular cultivar of JM, I tend to stay away from it. Some of the "nicest" cultivars are difficult if not impossible to grow on their own roots. Others, like the bloodgood, have longer internodes as AdairM pointed out. They don't have all the pizazz of the cultivars, but I really like working with plain vanilla green JMs. They are beautiful, respond very well to bonsai work and are fairly easy to get (and relatively cheap) near me. That said, I do work with other cultivars, including bloodgood (and, even worse, Norway maple and black locust). Given the growing habits of the bloodgood, I will likely need to grow this into a larger tree to make it a believable bonsai. So, putting it into the ground for a while may well be the best option regardless of whether you want a bonsai or lawn tree.

You are doing the right thing pursuing your urge to experiment. There's only so much that can be learned from books and at some point we all need to just do some work and see what happens/learn from mistakes. The learning curve in bonsai is pretty steep and you will know a whole lot more as the time passes and you get your hands dirty. Speaking of books, I would recommend picking up Merrigioli's book on maples if you want to work with this tree - it is an indispensable resource and worth every penny. I would also suggest picking up a more common species of tree for bonsai. You can tweak what you learn on those to apply the knowledge to trees that folks tend to stay away from for one reason or another. Folks stay away from these for a reason - bonsai-ing is a long process and hard enough; we don't need to make it longer and even harder on ourselves by using trees that don't cooperate with what we are trying to do.

Also, be sure to add your zone to your info - you received answers from 4 different people in 4 different locations - each will have their own particular ways of caring for their trees in accordance with their particular zone. It's hard to give the best advice if we don't know where you are. Don't need an address and SS#, just a zone.

To be sure, I've seen exquisite bonsai out of very difficult to work with species. Walter Pall has an awesome Norway maple. It's just not "good" or "beginner" material for the simple reason that general bonsai knowledge needs to be adjusted for these species.
 

LiquidTension

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I really appreciate all your advice. Thank you Eckhoffw. Adair, i have a passion for seed growing, i also farm. What recommendations do you have for that. Im just getting involved in the mn bonsai society., I live in MN where we are usda zone 4. Maples happen to be a away of life for many people in my region and are the signal for the season change. I thank you for the Merrigiolos recommendation. My next favorite are redwoods and I have a love for snow rose serrisa, and kingsville boxwood. Is there anybody who is a regular member of the mn bonsai society that posts here? I just became a member but apprenticed when young at a place here some did not agree with traditionally. He was good to me and taught me a tremendous amount of info.

For those who dont have a lot of space how do you deal with a significant tree loss in zone 4 dormancy?


Also really honor to meet folks who share this experience and thank you for you wisdom. Its been my 1st favorite behind growing coral reef.

Respectfully,

Drew
 

LiquidTension

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Queen, I reread your advice in detail and I want to go look at junipers now. As far as tools I own all kira's .. I work in It but was trained in culinary. There is literally no sub for good steel. I have bought a lot from superfly bonsai and their soil is great. I know I can get it cheaper but I live in a townhome. I dont have the space for 'cheaper materials' so I pay prepack.

Anybody have a garage cold box details?
 

Adair M

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I really appreciate all your advice. Thank you Eckhoffw. Adair, i have a passion for seed growing, i also farm. What recommendations do you have for that. Im just getting involved in the mn bonsai society., I live in MN where we are usda zone 4. Maples happen to be a away of life for many people in my region and are the signal for the season change. I thank you for the Merrigiolos recommendation. My next favorite are redwoods and I have a love for snow rose serrisa, and kingsville boxwood. Is there anybody who is a regular member of the mn bonsai society that posts here? I just became a member but apprenticed when young at a place here some did not agree with traditionally. He was good to me and taught me a tremendous amount of info.

For those who dont have a lot of space how do you deal with a significant tree loss in zone 4 dormancy?


Also really honor to meet folks who share this experience and thank you for you wisdom. Its been my 1st favorite behind growing coral reef.

Respectfully,

Drew
Look for species that you see growing in your area. Joining a local bonsai club is the best way, and tap into the collective knowledge of those who have gone before you. There’s no need to try to reinvent the wheel, those who have been in bonsai any length of time are willing to point you in the right direction . Everyone starts off as a beginner. The fastest way to stop being a beginner is to work with experienced people. Go to the club, and offer to help some of the older members with their trees. They often need help moving them about, repotting, pruning, etc. Just be sure to do what they say!
 

Adair M

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I really appreciate all your advice. Thank you Eckhoffw. Adair, i have a passion for seed growing, i also farm. What recommendations do you have for that. Im just getting involved in the mn bonsai society., I live in MN where we are usda zone 4. Maples happen to be a away of life for many people in my region and are the signal for the season change. I thank you for the Merrigiolos recommendation. My next favorite are redwoods and I have a love for snow rose serrisa, and kingsville boxwood. Is there anybody who is a regular member of the mn bonsai society that posts here? I just became a member but apprenticed when young at a place here some did not agree with traditionally. He was good to me and taught me a tremendous amount of info.

For those who dont have a lot of space how do you deal with a significant tree loss in zone 4 dormancy?


Also really honor to meet folks who share this experience and thank you for you wisdom. Its been my 1st favorite behind growing coral reef.

Respectfully,

Drew
The problem with “seed growing” is that it takes several years to decades to develop a trunk. And THEN the process of ”creating a bonsai” can begin. Because once you put a tree into a bonsai pot, trunk growth pretty much stops. You see, the way MOST bonsai are developed is NOT by growing up from seed, it’s by taking a larger piece of material and cutting it back, hard. Then working with the new young branches that spring up.

Do you want to wait 10 to 15 years to start to do bonsai? I didn’t think so.

Get a copy of Jonas Duiprich’s book “The Little Book of Bonsai”. It is really the VERY BEST beginner book ever written.
 

rockm

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Queen, I reread your advice in detail and I want to go look at junipers now. As far as tools I own all kira's .. I work in It but was trained in culinary. There is literally no sub for good steel. I have bought a lot from superfly bonsai and their soil is great. I know I can get it cheaper but I live in a townhome. I dont have the space for 'cheaper materials' so I pay prepack.

Anybody have a garage cold box details?
I also live in a townhome. I've been doing bonsai here going on 30 years now.

A few things I've learned about having bonsai in a tiny (30x 30') backyard:

Choose species according to what will do well in your area. You've mentioned redwood and serissa. Both will be a problem in Zone 4. Serissa will have to be overwintered indoors from first to last frost. Redwood is a nickname for a couple of species, if you mean Dawn Redwood (metasequoia), you may be able to overwinter it outdoors-you're at the low end zone limit for its hardiness. As bonsai, trees tend to lose a zone of hardiness because their containers expose roots more directly to the the environment. If you're talking California Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), you're going to have issues as it won't survive outdoors in Zone 4 winter, and keeping it inside will weaken it and kill it over time. If you have a garage (I don't) you're in a better position to keep more marginal trees as garages can be kept warmer (but too warm sometimes)

You're going to have to consult local bonsai people about overwintering specifics in your area. Don't rely on things you read on the Internet from people who don't live in your climate.

Avoid species that need coddling (any kind of elm, or if you have to keep trees indoors--ficus, are great tough, resilient beginner trees). You don't have the space for things that can't hack your environment. Search out the hardiest varieties--Japanese maples may be marginal in Zone 4 if you don't find cold hardy varieties.

There is no shame in buying prepared bonsai mix from good suppliers-particularly if you have less than ten trees or so and they're smaller. I used to mix my own. A hassle, dust, cramped storage, etc. make it more trouble than it is worth.

Maximize space--for instance ---Overwintering pits--I have a two foot deep, 8 x 4' pit I dug to sink trees into during the winter. I built a two foot tall wall around the top with decking posts. I use decking boards as a lean-to roof in the winter. In springtime, I lay those covering roof boards flat over the top of the walls of the pit and have a platform for trees to sit on. I also set benches over mulch beds that double as overwintering beds.

Hang heavy duty warehouse shelving from fence posts if you have a fence. That can double your area for keeping trees. If you don't have a privacy fence around the area where you keep your trees, expect theft.

Monitor your backyard sun exposure--find the areas of shadow and sun. Use them to your trees advantage--depending on species. In your zone, you'll want as much sun exposure as possible.
 

Bonsai Nut

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I have 10 large bloodgoods... for landscape. Last year I took some cuttings from one just to see how hard this cultivar is to propagate via cutting. Answer: not very :)

However as @Adair M pointed out, the features that make this cultivar great for landscape conflict with what we normally look for in a bonsai tree. It is one of the strongest growing JM cultivars, and one of the tallest. The long internodes give it a more open, airy feel, and it is one of the JM cultivars that grows large enough to be considered a shade tree. Can you create a bonsai from one? Absolutely! But given its characteristics you will be more successful if you embrace its characteristics instead of trying to battle them, and this is probably going to mean a large mature tree that will take a long time just to develop trunk caliper. So I guess I am simply repeating what other people have already said in this thread.

Nothing wrong with practicing propagation techniques on it, particularly if your "practice" helps shape the tree in landscape. And who knows? If you have the patience you may end up with a yard full of bloodgoods. One fun thing to consider - plant it in your landscape with a couple of other Japanese maple cultivars and soon you will have more seedlings than you know what to do what, with all the genetic diversity you can imagine.
 

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