Japanese Maple cutback in winter

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#2
(If I could edit the title, I'd change it to something like "How should I improve this Japanese Maple". Cutting back is an option, but I'd like to hear ideas.)
 

LanceMac10

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#3
Image #1 would be my front. Remove top 1"-1 1/2", too clunky and thick. Nice shoot right there to use as new apex. I'd start with that, then evaluate remaining branches.

OR



Grow some long shoots for thread-grafting to place branches where you like. If you feel your up to the challenge of the technique, that is.:D:D:cool:




HOWEVER




I tend to see everything shaped like a Christmas tree......so think about that!:oops::D:D:D:D:D:D I would probably start the branching over...…………….:)
 

0soyoung

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#4
The manner in which the thread question is posed suggests that you, @bwaynef, are more or less content with what you've got (the basic structure), you just want it to be prettier. I think that would be mostly a matter of ramification - let it grow, cut back to 2 leaves when hardened, rinse & repeat 2 or 3 times next year and the year after that.

However, there are several features of the tree's structure that catch my eye and you might want to address

InkedIMG_2995_LI.jpg

  1. Left (red squiggle) - I would eliminate the stuff under the red squiggle I've drawn on you pic. Then you will want to let this branch run to thicken (this lowest branch ought to be the heaviest or nearly so) all next year, then cut back to just beyond the interesting little drop in the line and repeat in 2020 so it has some taper
  2. Straight taperless peg in back (circled in red) - I would remove this and start over, because there doesn't appear to be any nodes between the trunk and that knob at its end.
  3. Get a new apex - remove what I've circled in blue, using one of those shoots from the node just below the blue loop as the new leader.
  4. Remove junk sprouts - there are little shoots emanating from the nebari and trunk that are 'certain' to not be useful = remove them = clean it.
Generic green acer palmatum, in my climate (and I think most), extends new growth three times a year, hardening about May and again around August. IMHO, these pauses are ideal times to wire (carefully of course) so that one doesn't wind up with arrow straight internodes (stuff like the 'peg on peg' happening inside the blue circle) - usually this is removed at the next pause. It looks to me that some wire was put on the right trunk/branch, but that little was done to curve the line of that branch/trunk.

Lastly, I'm not sure about that right sub-trunk/branch, but I'm thinking it would maybe serve you better if it was shorter - like cut it just above it's first horizontal node. You then need to decide if you want this to be a secondary trunk or to just bear a low foliage pad. Either way 2019 is let some shoots grow, remove all but one and wire it on a trajectory you want. Then, if it is going to be a secondary trunk let this shoot run for the rest of 2019, cutting back in fall. If it is going to be a pad, shorten this shoot to two leaves in May and again in Aug 2019 (wire in Aug to get things pointing where you want and then again after leaf fall). Then in 2020 and beyond you work for more ramification.

... my thoughts.
 

Adair M

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#5
The manner in which the thread question is posed suggests that you, @bwaynef, are more or less content with what you've got (the basic structure), you just want it to be prettier. I think that would be mostly a matter of ramification - let it grow, cut back to 2 leaves when hardened, rinse & repeat 2 or 3 times next year and the year after that.

However, there are several features of the tree's structure that catch my eye and you might want to address

View attachment 219590

  1. Left (red squiggle) - I would eliminate the stuff under the red squiggle I've drawn on you pic. Then you will want to let this branch run to thicken (this lowest branch ought to be the heaviest or nearly so) all next year, then cut back to just beyond the interesting little drop in the line and repeat in 2020 so it has some taper
  2. Straight taperless peg in back (circled in red) - I would remove this and start over, because there doesn't appear to be any nodes between the trunk and that knob at its end.
  3. Get a new apex - remove what I've circled in blue, using one of those shoots from the node just below the blue loop as the new leader.
  4. Remove junk sprouts - there are little shoots emanating from the nebari and trunk that are 'certain' to not be useful = remove them = clean it.
Generic green acer palmatum, in my climate (and I think most), extends new growth three times a year, hardening about May and again around August. IMHO, these pauses are ideal times to wire (carefully of course) so that one doesn't wind up with arrow straight internodes (stuff like the 'peg on peg' happening inside the blue circle) - usually this is removed at the next pause. It looks to me that some wire was put on the right trunk/branch, but that little was done to curve the line of that branch/trunk.

Lastly, I'm not sure about that right sub-trunk/branch, but I'm thinking it would maybe serve you better if it was shorter - like cut it just above it's first horizontal node. You then need to decide if you want this to be a secondary trunk or to just bear a low foliage pad. Either way 2019 is let some shoots grow, remove all but one and wire it on a trajectory you want. Then, if it is going to be a secondary trunk let this shoot run for the rest of 2019, cutting back in fall. If it is going to be a pad, shorten this shoot to two leaves in May and again in Aug 2019 (wire in Aug to get things pointing where you want and then again after leaf fall). Then in 2020 and beyond you work for more ramification.

... my thoughts.
In general I agree with Oso. I would perhaps wire the shoots a little sooner than he suggests. When they have produced maybe 5 pair of leaves. But certainly before the stem is lignified. Wire when the shoot is soft, and put in lots of little curves in all directions. That wire only stays on for about a month! By then the shoot has lignified. Remove the wire, and cut back. Yes, you will cut off a lot of what you wired! Let new shoots grow out to 5 pairs, and wire again. As 0so said, you can do this 3 or 4 times a summer.
 
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#6
The manner in which the thread question is posed suggests that you, @bwaynef, are more or less content with what you've got (the basic structure), you just want it to be prettier.
If you'll read my second reply, it was after I discovered I'd done a horrible job giving this thread a subject that was meaningful. I'd like to create the best tree from this material. That's the goal. Also, I said
bwaynef said:
I'm not thrilled with where it is and want to improve.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not great with words, but what I was trying to say was, ...help me fix this tree.

I bought this tree last year because I thought I liked it. The more time I spent with it, the more I realized it was flawed, though I couldn't really put my finger on some of them. Reading your post makes it so obvious, but I hadn't articulated everything quite like you had. Thank you for taking the time to rationalize through this and make your suggestions. If you held back because you thought I just wanted to clean it up and build ramification, I'd love to hear whatever you were holding back.
 

0soyoung

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#7
I bought this tree last year because I thought I liked it. The more time I spent with it, the more I realized it was flawed, though I couldn't really put my finger on some of them. Reading your post makes it so obvious, but I hadn't articulated everything quite like you had. Thank you for taking the time to rationalize through this and make your suggestions. If you held back because you thought I just wanted to clean it up and build ramification, I'd love to hear whatever you were holding back.
I'm not holding anything back. I just offered you a quick take on your tree with a relatively short time line (about 5 years) to 'get it there' from what you've got (in the pix). I don't really understand your aim with this tree and your time horizon. If you haven't already, you really should spend the winter studying it and deciding what you want to make of it. What of it is worth keeping, what is not. There are many, many options.

You should not be satisfied with what you've got, IMHO.
 
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#8
I'm going to give my take on what I would do. Maybe others will find it handy also.

First of all this tree is not healthy. It is not thriving for a maple. It needs to come out of the pot so it can gain vigor to do the training that is necessary. When it has reached that point and the training is done and your tree is ready to be shown, then put it into a pot. The pot does not afford the rootage to help gain vigor so get it into a box in spring.

The good points.
Nice taper in the trunk and the base is superb. I feel this is probably a Kiyohime or a Kiyohime hybrid. The branching is not perfect for a broom but is good for a spreading meadow maple image. It just needs to tighten some.

Poor points
Bad knobs due to incorrect pruning and not being cut back enough at the correct time. Internodes way too long and wrong as a foundation for a maple.

The good news, there is no better species for a good deciduous tree than a maple.
The bad news, there is no other species that takes more work to keep good than a maple.

My method takes balls and commitment to the way maples respond and grow. First thing is forget all this wait until it hardens off to prune. Thats bullshit and if you do, it will take decades to turn this into something. In the spring when it shoots out let it go to six leaf pairs and prune it back hard. Hedge it!!!
Let it bud, if its strong ( and it will be cause your going to put it into a box and allow it to grow) it will bud profusely. When it does do the same thing, wait for 6 and hedge. On the third go around, your well into summer now, prune at four leafs. and the last go around, prune at four again. Now don't do any thing else all year. Let it go. This should be about the beginning of August and it will be slow growth now anyway and will not bolt.

The next year will be rewarded with small branches and short internodes. Now you have a foundation to work from and can start picking out that which you wish to keep from all that you have now.

I bought a big Kiyohime in a two gallon container. The trunk was about 1 1/4 " across and about 2 feet tall. A big umbrella of foliage.

DSC_00610060.JPG DSC_00620061.JPG

After leaf fall this was the skeleton.

DSC_01060001.JPG

I cut it back and had this.

DSC_01070002.JPG

While that was a good look and feel, I did not want to build the rest of the tree on those branches with the long internodes that would never bud and would look stupid. So what I did was the method I am suggesting here. I whacked the crap out of it. sealed everything and knew it would bud because it was strong. I performed the hedging method I described all year to it. This is where it was in the Summer.

DSC_01080003.JPG

DSC_0005.JPG

This is the tree right now, just starting to turn for Fall on Dec. 5th. Now I have lots of leaves but they are close it and I have something to work with now. I was never going to make anything out of what I bought. I had to go for it. I'll find a front and begin picking branches this Spring. Good luck.

DSC_0008.JPG
DSC_0009.JPG
 
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#9
The good points.
Nice taper in the trunk and the base is superb. I feel this is probably a Kiyohime or a Kiyohime hybrid. The branching is not perfect for a broom but is good for a spreading meadow maple image. It just needs to tighten some.
Bananadude, are you suggesting that the branching that's in place presently be kept? I'm 99% positive its seedling Japanese Maple by the way. Its definitely not one of the *himes.
 
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#10
Bananadude, are you suggesting that the branching that's in place presently be kept? I'm 99% positive its seedling Japanese Maple by the way. Its definitely not one of the *himes.

I don't know how you understand things but this is why I post pictures.

DSC_01060001.JPG

DSC_01080003.JPG

If it is not one of the Hime's then you really need to change its growth pattern. You can by doing this. If you don't it will always look funny.
 
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