Cut here, let grow....

maplesandpaws

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But where? I know this butterfly needs to lose a lot of height, but I'm not quite sure if I should cut below the branching - so I just have the trunk - or above it... If above, how much above? I think the tree has a nice start with the trunk - and for $10 I couldn't pass it up - just not quite sure where to take it from there.

Opinions welcome!!
 

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mc4mc44

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i would cut where the trunk splits so there are only two main branches. let one become a sacrifice and leave the other one to become the main trunk one day. if you let all the other branches stay a bulge will form where they meet.it would be hard to get rid of it once it forms. i would also put it into the ground for quicker development.
 

Smoke

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Trees like these pose a myriad of problems for bonsai.

Trunk chopping on these may be possible, but grow out is sketchy since they are fairly weak trees. Weak meaning not as vigorous as other maples. Not weak in general.

The lower trunk is probably a graft, meaning again the tree is more robust on mountain maple roots. This makes it a bad candidate for a low trunk chop.

The tree was propagated with a "yard" in mind. Meaning it was allowed to grow very straight and tallish keeping the first branches rubbed off untill it looked more like a yard tree. A bad component of bonsai.

So....what are the options....?

I think....air layers may be the only way to go. You might layer the tree a suitable distance from where the trunk begins forking and develop a broom there. Or..layer in same place and prune back some of the forks retaining one for a trunk directional change.

Or maybe....keep as is....Keep top pruned back hard, use one sacrifice branch and plant it out in the ground and grow it out for 5 years and let the trunk catch up to the top.

Whichever way you go, you will spend at least 5 to 7 years developing a suitable bonsai from this material. Cool beans if your 20 years old. Not so cool if your 65 going on death......

Good luck with your pink maple, Al
 

jk_lewis

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Or maybe....keep as is....Keep top pruned back hard, use one sacrifice branch and plant it out in the ground and grow it out for 5 years and let the trunk catch up to the top.

That's probably the best option, but you will want to be very proactive in cutting the top back over each growing season in hopes of promoting some sprouts on that long, thin trunk.

The tree was propagated with a "yard" in mind. Meaning it was allowed to grow very straight and tallish keeping the first branches rubbed off until it looked more like a yard tree. A bad component of bonsai.

Which is why "regular" nurseries are difficult places to find material that can some day become a decent bonsai -- especially if you are shopping for a tree as opposed to a shrub. The commercial growing practices for future bonsai are radically different than those for landscape use.

You should never enter a neighborhood nursery thinking that "I WILL find a tree today. Chances are -- even after looking at every tree on the lot -- you won't. And if you don't find one that screams BONSAI at you, leave it there.

Or buy a shrub -- a juniper, crape myrtle, cotoneaster, holly, azalea, etc. You are much more likely to find one of those with a single, short trunk that can become a bonsai in a relatively short time.

In all my years in bonsai, I can remember very few decent Japanese maple bonsai that started out as a landscape plant, and the ones I do recall, were bought when they were very small (1-3 gallon size) and grown into a bonsai, not chopped down from a tall, leggy thing.
 

maplesandpaws

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Trees like these pose a myriad of problems for bonsai.

Tell me about it

The tree was propagated with a "yard" in mind. Meaning it was allowed to grow very straight and tallish keeping the first branches rubbed off untill it looked more like a yard tree. A bad component of bonsai.
Yep, definitely... but, for the price, I couldn't say no and if it ends up not working out, I'll still have a decent tree for the yard.

I think....air layers may be the only way to go. You might layer the tree a suitable distance from where the trunk begins forking and develop a broom there. Or..layer in same place and prune back some of the forks retaining one for a trunk directional change.
Now this is something that I hadn't considered, but might make more sense. I've attached a couple better pictures of the tree/trunk showing the graft and the existing branching. Would you do the layering above or below the graft line?

Or maybe....keep as is....Keep top pruned back hard, use one sacrifice branch and plant it out in the ground and grow it out for 5 years and let the trunk catch up to the top.
This what my initial thought was, keep chopping it back in hopes of more branching/leafing closer to the trunk. Planting it out is definitely a possibility, though since we're in the process of trying to sell our place, this probably wouldn't happen until spring or maybe next fall...

Whichever way you go, you will spend at least 5 to 7 years developing a suitable bonsai from this material. Cool beans if your 20 years old. Not so cool if your 65 going on death......
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, love it!! I'm 33, so not a spring chicken but not quite going on death either - at least I hope not! :D

jkl said:
Or buy a shrub -- a juniper, crape myrtle, cotoneaster, holly, azalea, etc. You are much more likely to find one of those with a single, short trunk that can become a bonsai in a relatively short time.
Funny you should mention the crepe myrtle; I found this one the other day. Leaves are a little larger than I'd like, but the trunk, branching and nebari (most of it is covered with soil, but it's pretty nice for nursery stock) can't really be argued with, it's a great start, I think.
 

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