How to start my maple...

Twobit214

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Hello All,

I have a red leaf Japanese Maple that I wish to convert into a bonsai. When I purchased the tree 3 years ago, I had always intended it as such. I have yet to get there with cutting. The tree has been living in a pot all this time. The pot is large and the soil is miracle grow, with a little bit of thinner (bark, granite, etc, compost). The tree, I think, is nearly 18 inches tall or so. It's situation hasn't been changed for 3 years.

Now it is time to cut. I am pretty comfortable with cutting the branches back hard. I am a little unsure about the root pruning, but I am still researching more data on that.

What I am really curious about, is how to approach what I see as two separate steps. Repotting the plant, and cutting it hard to encourage the smaller growth. I am not sure which to accomplish first, or even if both procedures can be completed in the same year.

My first thought was to cut the canopy back significantly with the first buds appearing in spring next year. Then, completing the repotting and root pruning the following spring. I hoped that I could get some advice on how to approach starting this bonsai. It is a beautiful tree, and I am terrified to kill the poor thing.
 

Ang3lfir3

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With deciduous trees.... if the tree is healthy (if its not stop reading) .... you can root prune and prune hard at the same time .... next spring .... no real reason to cut now it won't do much good ... when you do repot you will want to make sure you use a more appropriate bonsai like mix, depending on the needs of the tree for growth you can either pot into a larger grow container or into a training pot .... Potting soil needs to be avoided .... you should include soil recipes for bonsai in your research

pictures always help us talk about things a little better and can be more specific to your plant .... also including a location (at least general) in your profile is helpful for giving advice specific to your locale
 

edprocoat

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Hey Twobit, did I read wrong or did you say your tree has been 18 inches tall for 3 years now? I only ask as that would seem very odd, I am not a maple person, just killed my first one this summer as a matter of fact. I was looking at the red leafed varieties and all the ones I seen were grafted trees. Then I read where they are not good in sunny locations, I got a green leafed one and guess what, the hot Ohio sun and dry wind wilted it and it died off, oddly enough I had placed what was left of it in shade where it only got less than 2 hours of morning sun and it sill died after 2 weeks.

By the way, welcome to the nut house! These guys are great and some of the most knowledgeable people you will find who are willing to share that knowledge with you. Except for that edprocoat guy, he can be a real jerk.

ed
 

Bill S

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Twobit, what is the trunk size as in dia. at the base, is this size what you want in a bonsai??? Typically a bigger tree is cut down from a taller tree, and at that point grow branches. If you want a bigger tree best to let it grow untouched in the ground for a couple of years. If you like the size it is at, then Ang3's info is good info.
 

Twobit214

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The base of the trunk is around 4.5" in diameter. I expect that this will be on the larger side of bonsai. I don't particularly want it to be any larger than it is currently. I expect size will be reduced to some degree with hard pruning.

Sorry about the location thing. Forget to update. I am in central North Carolina.

I didn't mean to imply that the tree has not grown. It is getting larger from year to year, though I prune back small amounts in the spring time.

Thanks! I will look out for edprocoat...good tip. :)

I was looking to start cutting in the spring, around the time the first buds appear.

As far as I can tell, the tree is healthy. I am posting a few pics for some context.

The tree is planted in the soil it is because I didn't want to transfer the younger tree directly to bonsai soil. I knew it would be in the pot for some time, and wanted to give something that held more water because of the time I was spending a way from home at the time. It didn't go into the ground, because I have crap clay around the house. Generally poor soil. So, I did what I could with what I have.

Obviously, a large part of the repotting is getting the tree into some more appropriate bonsai soil. Part of the reason I was afraid to do too much at once, thinking that a root prune, large cuts to the canopy, and new soil all at once may be a little much for the tree in one session.

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Twobit214

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I posted some pics of the tree for you to take a look through. I would appreciate any further advice. Thanks!
 

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