Japanese Maple Clump from Bennie Badgett

markyscott

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Bennie was a long time member and past president of the Austin Bonsai Society. He was a gracious man whom I only had the privilege of meeting a few times. On one of my visits, Bennie gave me this tree.

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Bennie was quite well known in the area for his maples and azaleas - he propagated them both. When I visited him last he had paired his collection down to just a few hundred of his most special trees. I'm fortunate to have three of them. I've had this one for nearly five years now, but it will always be Bennie's tree to me.

Time to go to work.

In 2o14, the year Bennie died, I grafted several seedlings onto this clump as well as the other Badgett maples that I have. I documented the process here:

http://www.bonsainut.com/threads/time-for-some-root-work.13917/

Let's see how they're doing.
 

markyscott

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With these kind of grafts, I have nearly 100% success rate. I drilled the holes from the root base and out of the nebari. All of the grafts took at the roots and I kept four out of the six seedlings which grafted at the top of the nebari as well. Here are some close ups of the root grafts. You can see the wounds on the nebari where I removed the top of the two seedlings I eliminated last summer.

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markyscott

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I also let a few whips grow long over the summer so I could thread graft a few more branches. With Japanese Maples, it's important to do the thread grafting in very early spring before the buds swell too much. The more they swell, the larger the hole you have to drill and the bigger the risk you have of ripping off the buds when you thread them through the hole. So pick out a bit just slightly larger than the width of the shoot at the bud just above the point where you want to graft. Carefully drill a hole through the trunk where you want the new branch. Check your angle carefully and drill at slow speed. Don't burn the cambium.
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Clean up the hole with a grafting knife. You want nice, fresh edges.

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Here's how the hole should look when you're finished.

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markyscott

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Now, carefully thread the long shoot through the hole. Be very careful to not rub off the buds as you push them through the hole. When you reach the point where you'd like to attach the graft, rub the bark off the shoot and expose the cambium. There'll be a small gap around the shoot in the hole because you've made the hole large enough to accommodate the buds, but don't worry about that - we'll fix it in just a minute.
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Now, cut a little wedge out of a branch clipping and use it to force the exposed cambium on the shoot against the hole. You want the shoot to be tight up against the cambium exposed on the side of the hole.

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Should look like this when you're done. Note how the first set of buds is close to where the graft union will be. This is important because you want branching close to the trunk.

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Then cover it all up with cut paste.

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Good to go.
 
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petegreg

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I'm the second one who appreciate this. Especially info of rubbbing the bark off the shoot and keeping the buds close to the trunk. How simple and missed often.
 

rockm

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Thanks for this. I needed a refresher. This weekend, I'm grafting some roots onto an old trident maple with an uneven nebari that's been bothering me for years.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Nice, Scott. Been doing a lot of grafting this spring too. Have you ever thread-grafted a J. Maple in summer? I have a shoot that didn't quite get long enough last year to go where I need it, and considered defoliating and thread grafting this summer to get back on "schedule".
 

markyscott

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Nice, Scott. Been doing a lot of grafting this spring too. Have you ever thread-grafted a J. Maple in summer? I have a shoot that didn't quite get long enough last year to go where I need it, and considered defoliating and thread grafting this summer to get back on "schedule".
Thanks, Brian. Around here Japanese maples really slow down in summer. We often get a fall push, but I haven't tried summer grafting out of concern that its insufficient to graft the union. But it should work ok, especially if you get more summer growth than I do.

With tridents, I wouldn't hesitate. Those things grow like weeds.

S
 
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markyscott

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And another thing. As spring buds extend below the graft union, rub them off.

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Below the union, let them grow.

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You want all the growth on the branch past the graft, not in front of it. You want lots of extension to thicken the branch. No pruning, pinching, defoliating, wiring, our any other kind of bonsai nonsense. As Ratso Rizzo would say - we're grafting here!
 

Eric Group

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Thanks, Brian. Around here Japanese maples really slow down in summer. We often get a fall push, but I haven't tried summer grafting out of concern that its insufficient to graft the union. But it should work ok, especially if you get more summer growth than I do.

With tridents, I wouldn't hesitate. Those things grow like weeds.

S
If you are concerned it didn't take though, couldn't you just leave it another season- or part of a season?

How close is too close for buds on the "keeper" side of a graft? I did one on a JM and the bids were so close that the "swell" of cambium where the tree and branch meet has kind of joined with the two buds, making it look almost like three branches are coming from the same spot now! I am sure you'd prolly need to see pics, but think this will be an issue?
 

markyscott

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If you are concerned it didn't take though, couldn't you just leave it another season- or part of a season?

How close is too close for buds on the "keeper" side of a graft? I did one on a JM and the bids were so close that the "swell" of cambium where the tree and branch meet has kind of joined with the two buds, making it look almost like three branches are coming from the same spot now! I am sure you'd prolly need to see pics, but think this will be an issue?
Hi Eric. Certainly you could wait. It's usually a couple of seasons before I remove it anyway and it's kind of a process. I first weaken the branch below the union and wait for swelling above before I separate. The main concern is water getting between the shoot and the trunk. The longer you wait with exposed cambium, the greater the likelihood that will happen. If you do it in spring, it might only be a couple of months before the union is sufficiently sealed to prevent this from happening. If you do it in the summer, it might be almost a year. It would probably still work, and I have not tried it to say it wouldn't, but my concern is leaving the graft exposed for that long. Might be just fine.

I think what you're saying with your caution about placing the first bud too close to the trunk is that the callous at the graft union might swell enough to grow over the node on the shoot. I get callousing too, but it doesn't get that thick. Seems like a quarter of an inch or so would be sufficient to keep the shoot node out of the callous tissue. What do yo think?

Scott
 
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Dav4

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Very nice! I love well done maple clumps and this one is on it's way...good structure and a nice base that will only get better with grafting. Gotta get me one.
 

coh

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Excellent demonstration, thanks for taking all those photos of the process. I've been starting to experiment with grafting the past year or so, with mixed results. Helps to be reminded of the steps every so often.

Chris
 

Eric Group

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Hi Eric. Certainly you could wait. It's usually a couple of seasons before I remove it anyway and it's kind of a process. I first weaken the branch below the union and wait for swelling above before I separate. The main concern is water getting between the shoot and the trunk. The longer you wait with exposed cambium, the greater the likelihood that will happen. If you do it in spring, it might only be a couple of months before the union is sufficiently sealed to prevent this from happening. If you do it in the summer, it might be almost a year. It would probably still work, and I have not tried it to say it wouldn't, but my concern is leaving the graft exposed for that long. Might be just fine.

I think what you're saying with your caution about placing the first bud too close to the trunk is that the callous at the graft union might swell enough to grow over the node on the shoot. I get callousing too, but it doesn't get that thick. Seems like a quarter of an inch or so would be sufficient to keep the shoot node out of the callous tissue. What do yo think?

Scott
I think that is pretty accurate... I probably only left about an eighth of an inch in mine though and the callous has merged with the node where the first leaves come of fun fr the grafted branch... I looked at it again today and it seems to be fine... Just looks like the branch has a flair at the base where it comes off the tree! Which is not a bad thing... I guess my concern is that the leaf nodes are so close to the trunk it ALMOST looks like three branches are coming out of that spot instead of one.. Need to just go take a pic. Maybe I can do it this weekend and get some opinions...
 

Adair M

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Eric, if you do get three branches, just choose the one that grows at the best angle.
 
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