Japanese Maple Pruning Basics

Dr3z

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After diving into the forums and watching a bunch of videos I'm still not feeling terribly confident doing first pruning on my Japanese maple (Acer palmatum7. Looks like a lot of the material assumes basic knowledge that I don't have with this being a new tree to me not having the benefit of observing how it grows for a season yet. That or more likely I'm just being over cautious.

I assume I take back any of the long shoots to promote ramification? I was thinking of cutting the shoot right after the second leaf pair on each shoot? Rinse and repeat as needed and remove any overly large leaves? If I'm on the right track or there are any other basics I'm missing please let me know.
 

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sorce

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Seems it wouldn't hurt to let it grow out to establish some vigor before cutting it.

If you're reading text on "pruning", it's almost Always finished refinement pruning...even places like this, folks will parrot refinement pruning techniques when they can clearly see your tree.

Most important is thicker low branches, getting thinner as you move up, more lower ramification, less as you move up.

How you get there doesn't matter.

I'm 99% sure Walter Hedge Prunes these the same as anything else. Which means one of the most recognizable J maple Bonsai on earth, doesn't follow the written rules.

Sorce
 

Pitoon

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The more growth you allow the faster you can close that wound.
 

Dr3z

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Sounds fair, letting it grow out shouldn't be so hard 😄

I was just concerned that the new nodes are so long. They shoot out farther than the branches from last season that have begun to lignify. If fact nodes are emerging from the base of the old shoots so the distal portions of last year's branches are largely bare.
 

Bolero

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Sounds fair, letting it grow out shouldn't be so hard 😄

I was just concerned that the new nodes are so long. They shoot out farther than the branches from last season that have begun to lignify. If fact nodes are emerging from the base of the old shoots so the distal portions of last year's branches are largely bare.
I would comment but I don't understand what you are saying so will just keep my yap shut....
On second thought Snip all those long nodes to encourage additional Growth and Density.....
 
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MrWunderful

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Is your goal to refine the tree, as in its 80% or more finished?
 

Dr3z

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I would comment but I don't understand what you are saying so will just keep my yap shut....
On second thought Snip all those long nodes to encourage additional Growth and Density.....
To your defense I'm not sure I was able to be clear. I'm glad you had a second thought, thanks!
Is your goal to refine the tree, as in its 80% or more finished?
Probably not:
The trunk is IMO nearly finished. I'm very happy with its silhouette (kinda reminds me of a gnarly spooky Halloween tree).
A138wlM0hoL.jpg
I'd like the hard cut to heal over into a more aged hole kind of look.
tree-with-hole.png
The canopy needs the most work and I would say that is far from finished. In terms of style it's probably destined to be somewhere between formal upright or hokidachi/broom but to get to either it needs to fan out and develop more defined branches. I'm having a hard time doing that because the new growth is emerging from the base of last years growth rather then along its length. Hopefully the next two pics help, the red lines show where the existing branches are and you can see the new growth is picking all sorts of new directions rather then emerging along the length of the existing red highlighted branches.

I'm not sure they trimming the nodes will eventually get it to comply or just reduce its vigor. At very least I imagine it will direct energy into thickening those branches rather than hardening them new nodes later this season and having a thicket of competing directions. On the flip side perhaps I have more options then and pick the best...20210518_085813.jpg
20210519_172940.jpg20210519_172851.jpg
 

MrWunderful

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I think you are ok cutting those long nodes back.
 

sorce

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Reckon a thread needs to be started on the difference between good growth habits, and bad growth habits.

I have good ficus, and ficus with this shitty growth.
I have good Ulmus, and Ulmus with this shitty growth.
There are good maples, and maples with this shitty growth.

I just never owned one.

This shitty growth exists, and IMO....it should be avoided at all costs.

Quite certain ANY pruning techniques is wrong on these. Cuz look!

If we are not addressing the entirely different things that need to be done to make these "work", we are not paying afuckingtention.

Truth....

I will put new foliage on my ficus.

I'll only keep the elms cuz they're from and for Frary. Probably put new folaige on them too.

But worst..

Elms and ficus are alternate.

If I had a maple with this shitty growth, I'd probably burn it.

Sssssssorce
 

Crimsontide1970

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It depends on what you want to do. If the tree is weak then fertilize and allow the branches to grow and gain strength. The problem with this is you will get long nodes but that will help with the healing of the wound. If you want back budding fertilize heavy and cut back to the 1st node once the 3rd set of leaves start. Assuming the tree is healthy. For ramification light or no fertilizer now once the 3rd set leaves starts cut off any nodes wider than your thumb or pinky if shohin. You need light to back bud..... hope this helps.
 

Shibui

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Long internodes is a characteristic of JM strong spring growth. Keeping long internodes is wasting your time. You will not be able to get good ramification on branches where buds are widely spaced.
Those shoots with long internodes can be cut off just above where they start. There are lots of buds at the base and they will all activate when the shoots are pruned. Usually summer growth is more restrained so internodes will be shorter. Reducing fertilizer will also help restrain the new shoots.

I also see you have left lots of shoots growing from one place. The end of that branch already has a knob and will get rapidly worse if you allow all those shoots to grow there.
 

Bolero

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To your defense I'm not sure I was able to be clear. I'm glad you had a second thought, thanks!

Probably not:
The trunk is IMO nearly finished. I'm very happy with its silhouette (kinda reminds me of a gnarly spooky Halloween tree).
View attachment 375890
I'd like the hard cut to heal over into a more aged hole kind of look.
View attachment 375891
The canopy needs the most work and I would say that is far from finished. In terms of style it's probably destined to be somewhere between formal upright or hokidachi/broom but to get to either it needs to fan out and develop more defined branches. I'm having a hard time doing that because the new growth is emerging from the base of last years growth rather then along its length. Hopefully the next two pics help, the red lines show where the existing branches are and you can see the new growth is picking all sorts of new directions rather then emerging along the length of the existing red highlighted branches.

I'm not sure they trimming the nodes will eventually get it to comply or just reduce its vigor. At very least I imagine it will direct energy into thickening those branches rather than hardening them new nodes later this season and having a thicket of competing directions. On the flip side perhaps I have more options then and pick the best...View attachment 375893
View attachment 375894View attachment 375895
Your JM trunk is really Bonsai Quality.....try to Judiciously trim prune some lower Leafage to expose a little more of that trunk....
Prune those nodes away and new growth will come from the inside, hopefully.....
You have a really nice Japanese Maple Bonsai.....
 

Bolero

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I have JM Trident Double Trunk about 18" tall, it is 10 years old, I have carefully pruned all the side and top new growth to encourage a more Dense growth overall and it has worked quite well...will take some photos today to post here for comments and opinion.....
It is not potted I have it growing in the ground in my little Japanese Garden.....
 

Bolero

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I also have a new store bought (Bonsai House, Westland, MI) Trident about 18" Tall with curved trunk.....
I have wired several lower branches from Verticle to Horizontal.......Now the Leafs have all turned a Fall Red color ??????? Leafs remain healthy loooking and with some new growth, only wired branches turning color....totally mystified, will take photos today and post here.....
 

Pitoon

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Are your Azaleas Once a year bloomers ? Or more than once a year.....Are they in ground or potted?
I have some Kurume's and hybrids in the ground as landscape plants. Everything else is in pots in the event I need to move the plants around to adjust space.

I'm not a fan on the 'Encore' azaleas. The leaves are fairly large as well as their flowers.
 

Dr3z

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Here the result two years later
View attachment 375902
Stunning trees Walter as always. I look forward to having enough growth to hedge trim in the future!

@swatchpost
Thanks for sharing a fantastic resource video in Walter's teaching. Gives a newbie like myself a lot of confidence not to overthink each snip.

I've given it a trim and the canopy is much more to scale, essentially each long shoot was trimmed back to a single leaf pair unless it had potential for a desired branch direction. I removed some of the shoots that were a dead end being either too close to one another or threatening a downward trajectory.

20210520_083612.jpg20210520_083602.jpg20210520_083623.jpg
 

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