Deshojo / Red Maple Leaf Size Reduction

Hawke84

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Hi all,
I have a larger Deshojo Maple I picked up at a show last year. Its been imported and not reported in a number of years so that will be the first job in spring.
I've been trying to read on leaf size reduction and everything I find is basically on defoliation and then says 'dont do this on red cultivars'

is there any other techniques people use to help reduce the leaf size?

I know keeping the pot small will help, but can I do a partial defoliation to reduce the stress on the tree to help the leaf size?

thanks all
 

Forsoothe!

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No. Partial is counterproductive. Color of leaf should have no bearing on this, except, very light colored or variegated leaves have less chlorophyll and therefore less ability to process and store energy and less ability to recover from any high-impact event. They are less vigorous by the same percentage of leaf surface that is lacking chlorophyll. Those low-chlorophyll leaf parts are parasitic upon the rest of the tree. Thus, lighter colored leaves, like pink or yellow need more cautious treatment. 'Bloodgood' is an example of a dark red that evolves dark green by the end of summer and is as vigorous as any dark green JM.

The principle involved is that you are forcing the tree to use all its energy to inflate a whole head of foliage in an emergency situation like after a tornado or hurricane. Since it just did use a great deal of its stored energy to make the first canopy, it doesn't have all the energy typical of the process of expanding leaves and thus, smaller leaves. You get more leaves because the next set of buds is present, some of which are usually expanded as the year's second flush, and this is an emergency for the tree which cannot live unless it has a canopy of leaves. So, you get about double the ramification in one year. If you do just a partial, the leaves may or may not be smaller, but you get less emergency response and less ramification, at least on one side of the tree, if at all.

Maples can take denuding more than once a year which is a mistake to actually do. The best time is after the first flush is mature and the buds for the next set of leaves is present. For southern Michigan by the 3rd week of June. If done too early, it will take forever to replace the leaves. If done too late the buds for the following spring will not mature and the tree may not wake up. Never do it in a year that the roots have been reduced. To feed or not to feed: The leaves use whatever energy is available at the time of inflation. Feeding before leaf-out makes larger leaves than feeding after the leaves have expanded.
 

Hawke84

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No. Partial is counterproductive. Color of leaf should have no bearing on this, except, very light colored or variegated leaves have less chlorophyll and therefore less ability to process and store energy and less ability to recover from any high-impact event. They are less vigorous by the same percentage of leaf surface that is lacking chlorophyll. Those low-chlorophyll leaf parts are parasitic upon the rest of the tree. Thus, lighter colored leaves, like pink or yellow need more cautious treatment. 'Bloodgood' is an example of a dark red that evolves dark green by the end of summer and is as vigorous as any dark green JM.

The principle involved is that you are forcing the tree to use all its energy to inflate a whole head of foliage in an emergency situation like after a tornado or hurricane. Since it just did use a great deal of its stored energy to make the first canopy, it doesn't have all the energy typical of the process of expanding leaves and thus, smaller leaves. You get more leaves because the next set of buds is present, some of which are usually expanded as the year's second flush, and this is an emergency for the tree which cannot live unless it has a canopy of leaves. So, you get about double the ramification in one year. If you do just a partial, the leaves may or may not be smaller, but you get less emergency response and less ramification, at least on one side of the tree, if at all.

Maples can take denuding more than once a year which is a mistake to actually do. The best time is after the first flush is mature and the buds for the next set of leaves is present. For southern Michigan by the 3rd week of June. If done too early, it will take forever to replace the leaves. If done too late the buds for the following spring will not mature and the tree may not wake up. Never do it in a year that the roots have been reduced. To feed or not to feed: The leaves use whatever energy is available at the time of inflation. Feeding before leaf-out makes larger leaves than feeding after the leaves have expanded.
Thank you so much for the reply, this is probably one of the most helpful posts! I'm familiar with the full defoliation process and i tend to be fairly watchful of my trees so i'll watch this year for the best time to do it the following season. I'll be repotting it this year so no other work other that wiring really for this year and enjoy the colours!

So my take away from your post is that it is safe to defoliate a red maple as long as its not too weak i.e. from repotting root work or sickly etc etc.

here have some photos of when i got it / from the seller
20191129_113150.jpg

Screenshot_20191022_195822_com.ebay.mobile.jpgScreenshot_20191022_195753_com.ebay.mobile.jpg
 

MrWunderful

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Thats a really nice tree!

You’re on the right track for just repotting this year, I think a full year growth and a hard cut back next fall will be the best.

I wouldnt start defoiliating until you get some short internode secondary branches set up either. Let us know if you are open to suggestions on design.
 

Hawke84

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Thats a really nice tree!

You’re on the right track for just repotting this year, I think a full year growth and a hard cut back next fall will be the best.

I wouldnt start defoiliating until you get some short internode secondary branches set up either. Let us know if you are open to suggestions on design.
I'm always open to advice on progression and styling, its something i do struggle with sometimes. I've reduced the branches on the tree back to the first bifurcation ready to build the ramification this year following the repot. There are a few defects which i can see but i am holding fire until i'm 100% on removing any major branches.

This is it now, so shorter branches and ive started wiring some into position. got its new Erin pot ready :)
20200111_113010.jpg
 

Forsoothe!

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This is a really nice tree. What it lacks is the kind of long term picky kind of building clouds and ramification. Slowly reduce the top layers by making space between between them for the birdies to fly through and keeping the layers in proportion: each ascending layer having fewer leaves than the one below it. That will build taper over time. Further ramification will come with time and it's not like it's deficient now, this is already a nice tree that you should carefully nurture. I would only denude it once every other year to keep leaves small and the tree healthy.

I can't speak to the intensity of the sun in the UK. In southeast Michigan, I keep my Japanese Maples in the sun until June 1st, after which more than 1/2 day direct sun is too much so I avoid direct sun of mid-day and western sun in the afternoon until late August. Actually, they can take one of the three periods of long eastern, or short mid-day, or some western direct sun. Eastern is preferred. This chart of the intensity of the sun guides me to get as much sun as possible while avoiding the intense dark red colored period (red coloured in the UK;)). I keep all my trees in full sun over winter so they develop properly in spring. If kept in shade, they are hard to reintroduce to direct sun after they begin leafing out. (W² = watts per square meter)
278852
Nice tree!
 

james

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This tree has nice bones, and can make a nice bonsai. At this stage in development, you might want to prioritize your objectives. I would suggest trunk, nebari and basic branching. Leaf size is reasonable to consider, once the basics of the tree are addressed. I can't see the nebari well, can be tended to with next repot. Trunk taper and movement are good in the lower 2/3 of tree. Upper 1/3 of trunk is without taper, or movement, and doesn't relate to lower trunk. The power of the taper and movement in bottom of tree lost by the stovepipe straight top. Build the taper and movement all the way to the apex. Upper 1/3 is also too strong, rapid growth and multiple scars. If it were mine, I would take it off, or layer it off and have a second tree. Wire up a forward going branch as new apex 2/3 way up tree. Then to the major branches, several are long, leggy without ramification. Limited interior growth. Taking top of tree off, will let in light. Then you can cut back primary branches and build ramification. This all can be done in 2-3 growing season, then you can concern yourself with leaf size. This may sound drastic, but you will have a sweet tree shortly.
 

Adair M

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This tree has nice bones, and can make a nice bonsai. At this stage in development, you might want to prioritize your objectives. I would suggest trunk, nebari and basic branching. Leaf size is reasonable to consider, once the basics of the tree are addressed. I can't see the nebari well, can be tended to with next repot. Trunk taper and movement are good in the lower 2/3 of tree. Upper 1/3 of trunk is without taper, or movement, and doesn't relate to lower trunk. The power of the taper and movement in bottom of tree lost by the stovepipe straight top. Build the taper and movement all the way to the apex. Upper 1/3 is also too strong, rapid growth and multiple scars. If it were mine, I would take it off, or layer it off and have a second tree. Wire up a forward going branch as new apex 2/3 way up tree. Then to the major branches, several are long, leggy without ramification. Limited interior growth. Taking top of tree off, will let in light. Then you can cut back primary branches and build ramification. This all can be done in 2-3 growing season, then you can concern yourself with leaf size. This may sound drastic, but you will have a sweet tree shortly.
James, that’s a well thought out and articulated post. My thoughts, exactly.

This tree has great potential, but needs work in the “structure”. Unfortunately, those newer to the hobby focus on the easiest things: ramification and leaf size.
 

leatherback

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This is a really nice tree. What it lacks is the kind of long term picky kind of building clouds and ramification. Slowly reduce the top layers by making space between between them for the birdies to fly through and keeping the layers in proportion: each ascending layer having fewer leaves than the one below it. That will build taper over time. Further ramification will come with time and it's not like it's deficient now, this is already a nice tree that you should carefully nurture. I would only denude it once every other year to keep leaves small and the tree healthy.

I can't speak to the intensity of the sun in the UK. In southeast Michigan, I keep my Japanese Maples in the sun until June 1st, after which more than 1/2 day direct sun is too much so I avoid direct sun of mid-day and western sun in the afternoon until late August. Actually, they can take one of the three periods of long eastern, or short mid-day, or some western direct sun. Eastern is preferred. This chart of the intensity of the sun guides me to get as much sun as possible while avoiding the intense dark red colored period (red coloured in the UK;)). I keep all my trees in full sun over winter so they develop properly in spring. If kept in shade, they are hard to reintroduce to direct sun after they begin leafing out. (W² = watts per square meter)
View attachment 278852
Nice tree!
Note that this is a graph that is easily (And on this forum often) misinterpreted.
The figure combines the effect of the change in incidence angle with latitude and time of year and the number of hours of sunlight during the day. At the poles, during solstice, the earth is either exposed to sunlight over the entire (24-hours) day or is completely hidden from the Sun throughout the entire day. This is why the poles get no incoming radiation during their respective winter or more than the maximum radiation at the equator during their respective summer.
 

Hawke84

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This tree has nice bones, and can make a nice bonsai. At this stage in development, you might want to prioritize your objectives. I would suggest trunk, nebari and basic branching. Leaf size is reasonable to consider, once the basics of the tree are addressed. I can't see the nebari well, can be tended to with next repot. Trunk taper and movement are good in the lower 2/3 of tree. Upper 1/3 of trunk is without taper, or movement, and doesn't relate to lower trunk. The power of the taper and movement in bottom of tree lost by the stovepipe straight top. Build the taper and movement all the way to the apex. Upper 1/3 is also too strong, rapid growth and multiple scars. If it were mine, I would take it off, or layer it off and have a second tree. Wire up a forward going branch as new apex 2/3 way up tree. Then to the major branches, several are long, leggy without ramification. Limited interior growth. Taking top of tree off, will let in light. Then you can cut back primary branches and build ramification. This all can be done in 2-3 growing season, then you can concern yourself with leaf size. This may sound drastic, but you will have a sweet tree shortly.
thank you for a great post. I agree Nebari needs exposing, its not bad on the tree and i'll fix this with repotting. I agree with you on trunk taper and now you've said it i cant unsee it but there is actually a bit of inverse taper on the very top portion - thank you for that! :p

honestly everything you have said makes sense and there are a lot of heavy branches and defects in the top part of the tree. I dont think i have the confidence in my abilities to take a tree of this price and layer the top off. At the moment most of my maple projects are 5 years from being anything half good. I know the principle of how to build the trunk but i havent put it into practice properly to see results. happy with the time investment to do work like this, just want to do it right! ideally id like something half good looking on the bench as i have a lot of stumps so accept it may take more seasons to see more refined result doing this approach.

Agree with you on the lower branches, these do bug me, plan was to try and encourage back budding on these but there are some fairly long internotes so eventually will be a case of cutting back to re-grow.

can you draw on where you would take off? would you use that branch that has double wire on it as the new leader?
 

MrWunderful

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2905084E-75C9-456E-8FC1-389F37C5B461.jpeg
Without seeing the tree in person, this is where i would start with cuts. More branches will need to be removed, and multiple ones will need to be cut back to develop taper.
 

Hawke84

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great thank you,
so something like this, with the blue circled branch becoming the new leader?
82128309_1323022654543635_799150833756274688_o.jpg

so would the trunk line be something like this in the end?
82128309_1323022654543635_799150833756274688_o.jpg
 

Shibui

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How can anyone even contemplate styling a JM without seeing the nebari? Surface roots are so critical. They will dictate the viewing angle, trunk inclination and more. I think it is pointless going through a what if excercise without having all the facts.
IMHO the above cut only removes a few of the problems but still leaves far too many negatives. In a few years you will look again and ask why?
I understand the need to have at least 1 good bonsai on the bench so why pay good money for something with so many problems?

I can understand if you don't want to go with this but on the little I can see I would tilt the tree to get a better trunk angle (assuming the nebari will let me) and cut far lower to get rid of all that taperless trunk and the lazy S bends. There appears to be a small branch at the front that might make a reasonable new apex that would disguise the cut.
InkedhawkJM_LI.jpg
Result is a lot of lost tree that you have presumably paid good money for but a far more impressive trunk and shorter tree in the longer term.

On color: I understood that deshojo has red spring leaf but fades to green in summer so not really a red leaf var?
 

leatherback

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cut far lower to get rid of all that taperless trunk and the lazy S bends. There appears to be a small branch at the front that might make a reasonable new apex that would disguise the cut.
Funny to see how different people have different visions. I would not reduce the height at all and use this as a base. A deshojo is such a gorgeous tree in spring foliage, and in my opinion that is why you grow it, for the spring foliage. So I would not worry about the trunk taper. I would live this as a tall, elegant tree and use sweeping wide branches on it. During the growing of the branches, let the bottom branches grow out more, and over thenext 5-10 years create more taper.
 

Hawke84

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Funny to see how different people have different visions. I would not reduce the height at all and use this as a base. A deshojo is such a gorgeous tree in spring foliage, and in my opinion that is why you grow it, for the spring foliage. So I would not worry about the trunk taper. I would live this as a tall, elegant tree and use sweeping wide branches on it. During the growing of the branches, let the bottom branches grow out more, and over thenext 5-10 years create more taper.
this is one of the things i both love and hate about bonsai. im feeling like the consensus is around the top portion and how much is something to consider, part of which will decide it is how much work i want to put in. I was originally leaving the lower branches to help with the lower taper. The tree was a lot of money as non-graft are harder to pick up in the UK it seems so im keen not to completely chop it as im not confident enough in my skills to get it on the road to something beautiful in the future. i may just repot this year and maybe reduce a branch or 2 up the top while i decide if im confident to do a small chop. if anything it will just be the very top to try and get more of a taper. Like Shibui says, i'll expose more of the Nebari and see what is there and consider for the year to come what i will do. I'm really in 2 minds still about what i want to do as i like the tree and im looking at refining what i have rather than going back to scratch
 

leatherback

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im looking at refining what i have rather than going back to scratch
WOuld be my recommendation. I followed the chop-back on a deshojo 2 years ago, and I am not back to where I started, and I do not feel it has gotten better with stronger taper. I don't know. For me, japanese maple are not about sumo taper, but should be more balinese dancer.
 

Forsoothe!

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I am stunned that there has been all this major criticism of a pretty good tree that could look damn nice with foliage PDQ. Just because it's not a world-beater without leaves doesn't mean that it must have major changes! OP: Do you have a venue in which you will showcase this tree in winter key? If not, then come back to earth, everybody.

I'd like to see some trees posted that possess all these wonderful, perfect characteristics that this poor piece of shit tree is wanting, -by those people specifying all these "must do" steps that a person with somewhat limited skills "must do". Baloney. Keep it healthy and sneak up on changes. Be happy with a nice tree. The tree can evolve with the owner.
 

AlainK

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I totally agree with Shibui-san's suggestion of pruning this maple lower. Maybe not so low as he suggests, but the straight part in the second half is incoherent with the first third.

Can't say anything about the nebari, which looks rather encouraging, before the tree is bare-rooted.

maple.uk.jpg
 
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