Bloodgood Japanese maple progression

Cable

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This bloodgood maple was in my front yard and was a nice little tree for several years. Then we had a very hot and dry summer and fall and it all died except one branch. I dug it up and thought the trunk looked good enough to make a nice little bonsai out of. The nebari isn't great but it should be good practice for me.

14900492_10209346724698566_9110471571120951742_n.jpg20180804_145911.jpg20180804_145919.jpg20180804_145932.jpg

My plan is to chop it right where that side branch sprouted. But a tiny part of me wonders if it would make a nice literati. Probably not, though.

If I do chop, when? I've read a bunch and some say to chop in the fall but most say to chop in the spring. But even they can't agree and some say before the buds open and others say after. FWIW, I chopped two maples last year before bud break and they both died.

I'm also concerned about why that bark is splitting. That goes way up the trunk.
 

Kendo

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It should be cut with "hailmary" when dormant.

Your tree is new in pot. Thought this next year is for good health.
 

0soyoung

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My plan is to chop it right where that side branch sprouted. But a tiny part of me wonders if it would make a nice literati. Probably not, though.
I think that is a good idea. Wait until next spring. If you were to do it now or later this year lots of the cambium away from the one shoot will likely die over the winter.

Literati is like windswept, it is every noobs cop out. Good literati are hard to come by and even harder to create, they are extremely unusual trunks. Good windswept is very difficult due to the nuanced dance of the branch tips. Make a bonsai. Grow that one shoot, chop just above it next spring, and continue growing that shoot. Maybe just after leaf drop this fall, wire a little movement into it. Then next year and probably the year after that, grow it into the next section of your tapered trunk. Once it is growing vigorously you can progressively improve the nebari by careful root pruning each spring.
 

Cable

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I think that is a good idea. Wait until next spring. If you were to do it now or later this year lots of the cambium away from the one shoot will likely die over the winter.

Literati is like windswept, it is every noobs cop out. Good literati are hard to come by and even harder to create, they are extremely unusual trunks. Good windswept is very difficult due to the nuanced dance of the branch tips. Make a bonsai. Grow that one shoot, chop just above it next spring, and continue growing that shoot. Maybe just after leaf drop this fall, wire a little movement into it. Then next year and probably the year after that, grow it into the next section of your tapered trunk. Once it is growing vigorously you can progressively improve the nebari by careful root pruning each spring.
Thank you, I really appreciate this advice. When you say "spring" do you mean early spring before the buds swell, mid spring when they swell and crack, or late spring when the buds are fully open?
 

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Thank you, I really appreciate this advice. When you say "spring" do you mean early spring before the buds swell, mid spring when they swell and crack, or late spring when the buds are fully open?
I had in mind 'as buds swell', but at any of these points is okay. Just before winter is bad, bad, bad with acer palmatum

This is what can happen if you chop going into winter

 

Cable

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Thanks you. My last chops were done as the buds swell and they died. But I will try, try again!
 

0soyoung

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Thanks you. My last chops were done as the buds swell and they died. But I will try, try again!
Given your experience, then wait until it is leafed out (and hardened). Leave a long stub (just so that you don't damage that shoot!). The cambium will inevitably die back and will stay alive only where that stem can feed it. The stub can wait for years to be 'cleaned up' - there is no reason to rush it. You've got the better part of a rewarding decade in front of you with this tree, IMHO.
 

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I had in mind 'as buds swell', but at any of these points is okay. Just before winter is bad, bad, bad with acer palmatum

This is what can happen if you chop going into winter

Whaaat? I do all my chops on Acer in the fall, just as the leaves drop and have never had any die back.

Did you seal that cut with anything? That wound looks like water was able to get behind the cut and killed the bark, from rot I presume. I have seen it on big trees that I have cut with a dull chainsaw and the bark gets pulled back a bit.

I usually seal the wound and I always tidy up the cut with a very sharp knife if I can see any roughness in my original cut.
 

0soyoung

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Whaaat? I do all my chops on Acer in the fall, just as the leaves drop and have never had any die back.

Did you seal that cut with anything? That wound looks like water was able to get behind the cut and killed the bark, from rot I presume. I have seen it on big trees that I have cut with a dull chainsaw and the bark gets pulled back a bit.

I usually seal the wound and I always tidy up the cut with a very sharp knife if I can see any roughness in my original cut.
That was an air-layer girdle at the top, so regardless of sealing, it was inevitably going to die back to the node over the winter. IIRC, this pic there was an intervening growing season between the layering and this photo (i.e., two winters). I'll go along with the suggestion that had I trimmed the stub and sealed that fall (or done so the following spring), it wouldn't have been to such an extreme degree.

Doing this in the mid-season would be better yet, because there would be some growth to 'reprogram' the distribution/alignments of phloem tubes. Hence, my advice to @Cable given his experience with chopping 'when buds swell' has not been good.
 

0soyoung

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So, what do you think might be causing the split bark on my tree?
There is an area where the cambium died. Around it you can see the 'lip' of cambium growing to 'heal' the wound. If no this year, then next, the bark over the area where the cambium died will fall off or will be easy to flake off and you will see wood between the 'lips' that are now almost entirely half way around the tree apart.

Down low there is sort of a 'V' defined by the 'lip'. The two side of this 'V' extend up to a branch stub at the point where the trunk bends. You'll find that the 'lip' is a continuous loop. There is no cambium and just thin dead bark laying over wood inside the loop. A common way this damage happens is bright sun with dry air and maybe winds in winter. Under-watered trees and ones with root problems are more vulnerable to this.
 

defra

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This is a little acer palmatum orange dream wich i cut flush when leafes fully hardened
No die back so far
Pic is from today
Need to smooth out the cut tough but its starting to form callus
I did put cut paste on but as you can see that dissapeared dont know how that happend tough

20180806_110338.jpg
 

Cable

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It's just about time to get back to work on this bad boy. My plan for this spring is to repot within the next 2 weeks into a pond basket to get it out of the clay soil and into something well draining. Then, choppity-chop.

Based on what @Brian Van Fleet was saying in this thread, I'm going to do the chop in late April or early May (weather depending). In the pics below, I'm planning to chop at A. This would give me a change of direction into the whip on the right. However, I could also chop at B and go with @Smoke's advice to always look for the smallest tree. Could let it broom from there. Or, I could get wild and crazy and chop at C for a bigger tree. If I did that I'd preserve some of the movement in the existing trunk but then would have to remove the whip.

I still think A is the best plan.

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Smoke

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Ask yourself some questions first.

Why are you working on this tree.

1. free?
2. Lack of material close by
3. Love the red foliage.

If you chop at the green line you will end up with possibly two things. A dead tree and green leaves for sure. You will have chopped all the bloodgood off. Bloodgood do not make good small trees. The foliage is course and the internodes are pretty long and do not shorten very well. It is a strong grower and why it is not used more in bonsai is for those reasons. It will make a fairly good larger bonsai. I have an Ohsi beni that is just breaking leaves now that is similar to this cultivar and I would love to hack it back, but I must keep it larger due to being coarse.

That base will have to be ground layered at some point. But you could let the top grow long and bend down some long whips and graphying some shoots down lower and shorten the tree and build from there. The trunk is nice and the taper is good. I wouldn't throw it away, but I wouldn't chop the shit out of it either.
 

Cable

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Ask yourself some questions first.
It wasn't free. I bought it as a landscape tree but most of it died. Now I'm inspired by the one part that refused to die and want to make something of it.

I hadn't thought about the course foliage. The whip is definitely bloodgood so A or C is a good choice. I still think A is the best plan but it will take quite a long time for that whip to catch up. Would you recommend C? I'm just wondering where you draw the line at "chop[ping] the shit out of it." B obviously but what about A?
 

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Would you recommend C? I'm just wondering where you draw the line at "chop[ping] the shit out of it." B obviously but what about A?
I don't think I would recommend any of those options with out growing buds at the lines you have drawn. The branch shoots should be at least 6 inches long with 6 pairs of leaves before chopping, otherwise that big trunk just won't live. If it did it would be so weak for many years. Bloodgood is just not that good of a branch grower. I have two in my yard and they piss me off!
 

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I would make a safety cut at C and let it grow a year or so. Then make the lower chop. Hopefully after cutting at C it would sprout out lower. Just not enough engine with that one shoot to accelerate this tree. Keep in mind also that when you chop it, without shoots all that way around the trunk, the part with out limbs will die back and roots will also die creating that vertical hollow we always see after someone chops with out preparing the tree.
 

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