Coral bark maple (sango kaku) - Will mature bark color hide the graft?

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I bought this coral bark maple as the bark color is wonderful (in the photo it looks dull, but it is a very intense red). My plans for this year are to use it for propagation, and I will air-layer off a few branches and experiment with cuttings.

In the future though I will want to look at using the main plant for bonsai. I can obviously layer the tree above the graft line, and that would produce the best design for a future tree in any case, but was curious about whether the bark on the tree would mature to hide the graft point over time. The graft is very neat, with just a slight swelling, and is only very obvious due to the change in color. Mature bark on a coral bark tree is grey, and so I wonder if over time the graft point would become indiscernible.

20220123_01_bonsai_maple_06_(acer palmatum sango kaku).jpeg

Thanks!
 

Bonsai Nut

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(1) As you pointed out, mature bark on this cultivar is grey, so the graft will be less noticeable from a color standpoint.
(2) Often the issue with grafts is not the difference in bark color, but that there is a difference in growth characteristics between scion and rootstock. Because the two parts can grow at different rates, you will often see a noticeable lump, bump, or step at the graft union. It is almost impossible to hide, unless someone is specifically grafting for bonsai and executes the graft extremely low on the trunk.
 
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Shibui

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Older branches and trunk of coral bark become more and more gray/brown as they age. Only younger branches show the red bark. That means your graft point will gradually be less noticeable provided one side does not swell.
My experience with Coral bark is strong, straight new growth. I still haven't managed to produce good branching on one of these so hope you can do better.
 
Messages
207
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(1) As you pointed out, mature bark on this cultivar is grey, so the graft will be less noticeable from a color standpoint.
(2) Often the issue with grafts is not the difference in bark color, but that there is a difference in growth characteristics between scion and rootstock. Because the two parts can grow at different rates, you will often see a noticeable lump, bump, or step at the graft union. It is almost impossible to hide, unless someone is specifically grafting for bonsai and executes the graft extremely low on the trunk.

Many thanks! I will almost certainly layer above the graft point, but I will then experiment with what's left below the layer. We'll see how that works out. If it's ugly I have lost nothing.
 
Messages
207
Reaction score
201
Location
Italy
USDA Zone
9b
Older branches and trunk of coral bark become more and more gray/brown as they age. Only younger branches show the red bark. That means your graft point will gradually be less noticeable provided one side does not swell.
My experience with Coral bark is strong, straight new growth. I still haven't managed to produce good branching on one of these so hope you can do better.

If you haven't succeeded, then I stand very little chance :). It'll be fun though, and in the worst case a will have a few plants for the garden.

Thanks!
 

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