Japanese Maple development tips

Scott B

Seedling
Messages
24
Reaction score
15
Location
Ireland
Hey all,
I’ve had this japle about a year now, it’s my first japanese maple bonsai (have acquired a smaller one as pre-bonsai material), I have to say I love the colours of the leaves and their changes throughout the years, gorgeous!

I was hoping for some advice from y’all on where to take it development-wise in regards to wiring and pruning etc, cheers!72B30267-1FCA-444D-8120-70DCF84E8D23.jpeg
 

MrWunderful

Chumono
Messages
537
Reaction score
532
Location
SF Bay area
USDA Zone
10b
It helps if you decide what your desired style is.
Something traditional?
Something more natural looking?
Formal upright?
informal broom?

If you want perfection and show material, the base will need to be grafted or layered (my choice). And the tree has a long road ahead.

you want old age and taper, it will need to be placed in the ground.

If you are ok with the way it looks just want it a little “better” then some minor branch removal and clean up will be your best bet.
 

Scott B

Seedling
Messages
24
Reaction score
15
Location
Ireland
It helps if you decide what your desired style is.
Something traditional?
Something more natural looking?
Formal upright?
informal broom?

If you want perfection and show material, the base will need to be grafted or layered (my choice). And the tree has a long road ahead.

you want old age and taper, it will need to be placed in the ground.

If you are ok with the way it looks just want it a little “better” then some minor branch removal and clean up will be your best bet.
Thanks for the feedback! And style-wise i’m thinking something more natural/informal but that’s as far as i’ve got.

Could you elaborate a bit on grafting/layering the base? That sounds like a good direction to go but I don’t have much experience with those things nor the theory behind it.
 

MrWunderful

Chumono
Messages
537
Reaction score
532
Location
SF Bay area
USDA Zone
10b
Thanks for the feedback! And style-wise i’m thinking something more natural/informal but that’s as far as i’ve got.

Could you elaborate a bit on grafting/layering the base? That sounds like a good direction to go but I don’t have much experience with those things nor the theory behind it.
Search these terms on this site, or google

Ground Layer Japanese maple

Root graft deciduous

Root Graft japanese maple

There are multiple good threads on it on this site, not to mention the rest of the Internet.

“Bonsai Maples” by merigilioli (sp) is an excellent reading resource.
 

MrWunderful

Chumono
Messages
537
Reaction score
532
Location
SF Bay area
USDA Zone
10b
Here is a trident I ground layered this year to improve the nebari, as reference that anyone can do it.
First pic is the ground layered section on left, and bad nebari on right:



47CB6A48-3420-44C9-BE1A-E91C848660AB.jpeg

roots after some cleanup-

5AFB037E-90B8-4BE2-81B2-6FD1CAFFE397.jpeg

its a common technique on maples to improve the root base.
 

Scott B

Seedling
Messages
24
Reaction score
15
Location
Ireland
Here is a trident I ground layered this year to improve the nebari, as reference that anyone can do it.
First pic is the ground layered section on left, and bad nebari on right:



View attachment 278958

roots after some cleanup-

View attachment 278959

its a common technique on maples to improve the root base.
Lovely stuff altogether, thanks a mil! Shall get straight into reading and researching.
 

MrWunderful

Chumono
Messages
537
Reaction score
532
Location
SF Bay area
USDA Zone
10b
Lovely stuff altogether, thanks a mil! Shall get straight into reading and researching.
once you understand why and how to layer, its an easy way to get free stock to mess with (until you go crazy with it and end up with more trees than you know what to do with)
 

Shibui

Omono
Messages
1,477
Reaction score
2,680
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
The point they are trying to get across is that old maples end up with lots of radial surface roots. That's one of the characteristics that show the tree is old. Your tree has a root out each side = young tree still growing. We can use techniques to make the tree grow lots of radial surface roots that will make it look old rather than waiting for many years for that to occur naturally.

What you do with your tree is up to you. If you keep it in that small pot it will still be a small stick for many. many years. That's fine as long as that's what you want. Most of us want our bonsai to have fatter trunks so they look like older trees. To get a nice fat trunk Japanese maple you have several options: pay someone else who has had the time and skills to grow it; plant the tree in the ground so that it grows quicker ( can have unforseen problems); grow it in a small pot and wait many, many years for a thicker trunk.
There are not really many options for the tree as it is because there are relatively few branches to choose from so not really many that can be pruned.
There is a clump of small branches right up near the top. That's something that JM do - grow clusters of branches from one place. It is important to reduce the number of branches at clusters because JM thicken very quick where there are more than a couple of shoots in one place. Cut off all except the 2 best at any place where more than that sprout.

Unfortunately, bonsai is not like maths. There is never just one definite answer. So much depend on what you want and there is usually several different ways to get there with living things.
 

Scott B

Seedling
Messages
24
Reaction score
15
Location
Ireland
once you understand why and how to layer, its an easy way to get free stock to mess with (until you go crazy with it and end up with more trees than you know what to do with)
More trees than I know what to do with sounds good to me!
 

Scott B

Seedling
Messages
24
Reaction score
15
Location
Ireland
The point they are trying to get across is that old maples end up with lots of radial surface roots. That's one of the characteristics that show the tree is old. Your tree has a root out each side = young tree still growing. We can use techniques to make the tree grow lots of radial surface roots that will make it look old rather than waiting for many years for that to occur naturally.

What you do with your tree is up to you. If you keep it in that small pot it will still be a small stick for many. many years. That's fine as long as that's what you want. Most of us want our bonsai to have fatter trunks so they look like older trees. To get a nice fat trunk Japanese maple you have several options: pay someone else who has had the time and skills to grow it; plant the tree in the ground so that it grows quicker ( can have unforseen problems); grow it in a small pot and wait many, many years for a thicker trunk.
There are not really many options for the tree as it is because there are relatively few branches to choose from so not really many that can be pruned.
There is a clump of small branches right up near the top. That's something that JM do - grow clusters of branches from one place. It is important to reduce the number of branches at clusters because JM thicken very quick where there are more than a couple of shoots in one place. Cut off all except the 2 best at any place where more than that sprout.

Unfortunately, bonsai is not like maths. There is never just one definite answer. So much depend on what you want and there is usually several different ways to get there with living things.
Thanks for all the info, yeah I would like to thicken up the trunk for sure so I’ll either plonk it into the ground or ground layer it and then put that in the ground. I’ll have to watch it to ensure it doesn’t go mad growth-wise I presume.
 

AlainK

Masterpiece
Messages
3,690
Reaction score
6,018
Location
Orléans, France, Europe
USDA Zone
9A
Hi Scott,

If it were mine, I'd check the roots to see if it needs repotting. If it can stand another season in this mix, I would simply scrape the top of the soil and add some good mix (it looks like it's got Akadama, which is good)

Then I'd just concentrate on the upper part. Repotting, air-layering and the like can wait.

The main problem I see here is what I circled in red.

First, it's got several cuts that form a bulge, secondly, I think that you will have to choose between one of the two branches and I'd cut the bigger one. The movement would look better IMO, and it will help with overall "conicity".

If branch nr. 2 is on the trunk, or very close to it, I'd keep it.

The more you cut on a J. maple, the more likely it will bud out below, like in nr. 3, or even 4 : if that's the case, I would let the new shoots grow freely.

Nr. 5 would be the new leader. The longer it grows, the better for the future of the tree, you can prune it later.

The first branch on the right has also marks of pruning that are not so "elegant" for the moment, but it's the first branch and it's strong, and it's much better than having a first branch which is weaker than the second one.

After a year or two, maybe an air-layer whare the small twig can be seen on the right, or a little below.

maple.ie.jpeg

PS: I much prefer using a grow-bow than planting a tree in the ground. The subject has already been discussed here, so I won't develop.

PPS: is that a beech (fagus) on the left? ;)
 

Dav4

Drop Branch Murphy
Messages
10,616
Reaction score
19,331
Location
North Georgia/lived in MA until 2009
USDA Zone
7b
In my opinion, along with good roots, a maple needs movement and taper, both in the trunk and the branches. With that being said, I’d suggest you pick your keeper branches and wire as much movement as you can into them. Ideally, this would be done with new growth beginning to lignify but you can still improve the shape of much of the existing branches now. Make sure to add movement up, down and side to side. One the tree starts to grow it will only take a lot time before the wire has done its job and can be removed. At that point, you can wire out the new growth...
 

Scott B

Seedling
Messages
24
Reaction score
15
Location
Ireland
Hi Scott,

If it were mine, I'd check the roots to see if it needs repotting. If it can stand another season in this mix, I would simply scrape the top of the soil and add some good mix (it looks like it's got Akadama, which is good)

Then I'd just concentrate on the upper part. Repotting, air-layering and the like can wait.

The main problem I see here is what I circled in red.

First, it's got several cuts that form a bulge, secondly, I think that you will have to choose between one of the two branches and I'd cut the bigger one. The movement would look better IMO, and it will help with overall "conicity".

If branch nr. 2 is on the trunk, or very close to it, I'd keep it.

The more you cut on a J. maple, the more likely it will bud out below, like in nr. 3, or even 4 : if that's the case, I would let the new shoots grow freely.

Nr. 5 would be the new leader. The longer it grows, the better for the future of the tree, you can prune it later.

The first branch on the right has also marks of pruning that are not so "elegant" for the moment, but it's the first branch and it's strong, and it's much better than having a first branch which is weaker than the second one.

After a year or two, maybe an air-layer whare the small twig can be seen on the right, or a little below.

View attachment 279060

PS: I much prefer using a grow-bow than planting a tree in the ground. The subject has already been discussed here, so I won't develop.

PPS: is that a beech (fagus) on the left? ;)
Perfect thanks a mil for all the advice! Very clear and precise, I’ll follow your tips. And it is indeed, good eye ;)
 

Scott B

Seedling
Messages
24
Reaction score
15
Location
Ireland
In my opinion, along with good roots, a maple needs movement and taper, both in the trunk and the branches. With that being said, I’d suggest you pick your keeper branches and wire as much movement as you can into them. Ideally, this would be done with new growth beginning to lignify but you can still improve the shape of much of the existing branches now. Make sure to add movement up, down and side to side. One the tree starts to grow it will only take a lot time before the wire has done its job and can be removed. At that point, you can wire out the new growth...
Lovely stuff, thanks a mil
 

Similar threads


Top Bottom