Is this Japanese Maple a good candidate?

Jimmy Pete

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My wife’s grandmother has this on a side yard and forgot it existed. Not sure how old it is, but she said I could have it if I wanted.

would this be a good candidate for a bonsai? Would love to try my hand at a Japanese
Maple!
 

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leatherback

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Well, what makes you consider this for bonsai? How do you see thefuture of this as a bonsai?

I do not wan to complicate life. But I think you should teach yourself to decide whether something is good, ok, or unsuitable. And in the end, that wil be your decision..
 

Mikecheck123

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Sentimentality and bonsai don't go well together if you don't have much experience. If this tree is special to you, I would practice killing other Japanese maples first.

It's the best way to learn.
 

Jimmy Pete

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Well, what makes you consider this for bonsai? How do you see thefuture of this as a bonsai?

I do not wan to complicate life. But I think you should teach yourself to decide whether something is good, ok, or unsuitable. And in the end, that wil be your decision..

Very uneducated on this subject, but I’ll take a shot:

Pros:
- I like the leaf structure of this type (trident?) vs the longer, skinnier leaves.
- it looks like a healthy with a nice straight trunk. I like the look of straight upright maples, so this would check that box
- its already in a pot, so might transition nicely vs a harvested volunteer
- would give me a head start on growth vs a seedling


cons:
- the first branches are about a foot up so might not have many options to grow out a canopy
- it’s an otherwise nice tree that I could plant in the ground, and likely not kill

that’s about the extent of my assessment abilities at the time :). How did I do? Any recommendations or resources for learning more? I have access to a lot of great material so would love to be able to better identify potentialp
 

Jimmy Pete

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Sentimentality and bonsai don't go well together if you don't have much experience. If this tree is special to you, I would practice killing other Japanese maples first.

It's the best way to learn.
I’m probably the least sentimental person there is, so that’s not a problem haha. I definitely have the bonsai itch, however, and have been looking for any and all plants I can use to start amassing a collection :).
 

Jimmy Pete

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I would love to go for something like this, and the straight base seemed like it would lend itself well.
 

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Hack Yeah!

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That tree looks like a great candidate for bonsai! Green leaf varieties are generally very strong growers and rooters. It looks like that is possibly a graft so you'll need to deal with that, either accept it or layer above it. Maybe research how to layer and try one closer to the top of the tree and save the rest for when you learn more. Now is a great time to try a layer.

Good luck and go visit Brussels bonsai nursery for inspiration!
 

Jimmy Pete

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That tree looks like a great candidate for bonsai! Green leaf varieties are generally very strong growers and rooters. It looks like that is possibly a graft so you'll need to deal with that, either accept it or layer above it. Maybe research how to layer and try one closer to the top of the tree and save the rest for when you learn more. Now is a great time to try a layer.

Good luck and go visit Brussels bonsai nursery for inspiration!
I hadn’t thought about that, good idea! Would certainly open up more design possibilities. I’ve always wanted to try layering so seems like this would be as good of a time as any. Will do some research and report back.
 

leatherback

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How did I do?
Haha, just fine. My thought was more, think about what you have in mind long term, and what you need to do to get there.

So, if you look at the size of the plant: The trunk is thing relative to the size of the crown. To make a believable bonsai, the final tree would have to be a lot smaller (Usually, a ration of 1:6, 1:12 of trunk diameter to tree height is used), or the trunk needs a bit of growing. Rootspread: Not able to tell what is it like. But it is something which can be an issue for trees that are really one-sidedly rooted. Then there is the overall age. The older the tree actually is, the more it will look old, most of the time.

So, from a species, Japanese maples are great from bonsai. The trunk is very straight and you indicate that is what you want. The individual plant you show is fine, but not great; It is like all other japanese maples for sal in this size. So no better, nor worse, than other JP. It is fairly young. So expect a middle long development process. Taking multiple layers from this tree will get you lots of material to 'play' with.
 

Shibui

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The Japanese maple shown will be fine for bonsai. It is very young and undeveloped so you can make it into almost anything you like but, being very young and thin it will take some time to achieve anything like a bonsai. I think it is less about the tree and more about whether you are willing tom spend the time required to take it from what it is now to some sort of bonsai.
I would estimate 3-4 years to develop a simple stick in pot bonsai or 10-15 years for a show worthy bonsai provided everything goes well.
If you don't want to spend that time then this is not the plant to start with.

The lower trunk is bare because that's how trees grow. It is a race to become the tallest tree in the forest so lower branches are no use and they die in favor of stronger upper branches. The good thing about JM is they can grow new shoots from old nodes on the trunk so if you chop this trunk it will grow new branches but it will only do that if you cut back to just above where you want those branches to grow.
General JM development is to grow the trunk for a few years then cut it down to about where you want the first branch.
New shoots will grow. 1 becomes the new trunk extension. Another will be the lowest branch.
Continue cut and grow and occasional wiring for direction until you have the tree you want.
 

Mikecheck123

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The Japanese maple shown will be fine for bonsai. It is very young and undeveloped so you can make it into almost anything you like but, being very young and thin it will take some time to achieve anything like a bonsai. I think it is less about the tree and more about whether you are willing tom spend the time required to take it from what it is now to some sort of bonsai.
I would estimate 3-4 years to develop a simple stick in pot bonsai or 10-15 years for a show worthy bonsai provided everything goes well.
If you don't want to spend that time then this is not the plant to start with.

The lower trunk is bare because that's how trees grow. It is a race to become the tallest tree in the forest so lower branches are no use and they die in favor of stronger upper branches. The good thing about JM is they can grow new shoots from old nodes on the trunk so if you chop this trunk it will grow new branches but it will only do that if you cut back to just above where you want those branches to grow.
General JM development is to grow the trunk for a few years then cut it down to about where you want the first branch.
New shoots will grow. 1 becomes the new trunk extension. Another will be the lowest branch.
Continue cut and grow and occasional wiring for direction until you have the tree you want.
OR just buy Harry Harrington's book. "Bonsai Inspirations 2," where he shows exactly how a stick like this can become a world class specimen. It took him 18 years, though.
 
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