New to Bonsai, just got my first Japanese Maple

Mattfly

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Hey y’all, I just purchased my first Japanese maple that I got in a nursery pot. I did a fair amount of root pruning and I’m letting it recover in the shade currently. It seems like it’s recovering rather quickly which is good. I’ve been looking it over and I want to chop one of the main branches to give it one main lead branch. Currently it divides into two and so I’m considering where to cut. My questions are when would be a good time to cut (spring just started where I live), do I need to account for die back, should I seal the wound, and when can I begin wiring the secondary branches. I’ve included some pictures of where I’m considering cutting. Thank you
 

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Shogun610

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Welcome to our village in the depths of the old growth forest , yes come in and have some snacks and special brews. You can learn a lot from this place and stay as long as you like.
 

19Mateo83

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Welcome! That looks like a nice little mikawa yatsubusa? When you make your cuts allow a little extra for die back and seal your cuts. With a nice starter tree like that there is lots of options. I know it’s hard to do with a new tree but just stare at it for a little while, go over the options before you start cutting on it. You will be happy you did. Also you can try some air layers on the ones you want to remove. 2 or 3 trees are better than one.😉
 

Mattfly

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Welcome! That looks like a nice little mikawa yatsubusa? When you make your cuts allow a little extra for die back and seal your cuts. With a nice starter tree like that there is lots of options. I know it’s hard to do with a new tree but just stare at it for a little while, go over the options before you start cutting on it. You will be happy you did. Also you can try some air layers on the ones you want to remove. 2 or 3 trees are better than one.😉
Yep it’s a mikawa yatsubusa. I’ve had to stop myself from cutting it many times already, hopefully I learn some patience from this lol. Is there a general time frame I should wait for to cut after repotting? I don’t want to stress the tree too much but I also don’t want it wasting energy on those branches. And I’ve got some rooting hormone I was gonna use on the cut branches but I’m looking into air layering. Thanks, appreciate ya
 

19Mateo83

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Yep it’s a mikawa yatsubusa. I’ve had to stop myself from cutting it many times already, hopefully I learn some patience from this lol. Is there a general time frame I should wait for to cut after repotting? I don’t want to stress the tree too much but I also don’t want it wasting energy on those branches. And I’ve got some rooting hormone I was gonna use on the cut branches but I’m looking into air layering. Thanks, appreciate ya
I’m pretty sure you can cut whenever and it will be ok, it may bleed a bit during active growing season. The preferred time is spring right before the buds break. Some maples do not root from cuttings, some do not root with air layers either. I believe mikawa yatsubusa does well with air layers. Hopefully someone more knowledgeable with mikawa will chime in on this.
 

Ugo

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Hi!

Its important for you to know the following is a personal opinion.
Like a lot of people here I'm trying to get more experience and suggesting something can open discussion but don't take my words for THE answer before experienced members chime in!!

For now I would let the tree grow more before making the cut.
I will do more root work in the following years while keeping an eye on the dimension of that branch.
The diameter of that branch, under 1in, will be easily covered when the trunk increase in size. If its what you want!

As for the timing to do the work... like a lot of things in bonsai it really depends on the state of your tree.... for example if you absolutely wanted to do the work this year I would do it summer / autumn.
I don't think you experience frost in your Zone?
My only rule would be to make sure to do the work at least 6 weeks before the first frost and apply paste.
You will see people all have their answer for that one! To resume I think you can do it when the tree got some energy back from the time the tree got its leaves, fully hardened the timer begin, if you've past the Spring time before bud break time suggested by @19Mateo83 energy has already been wasted for growing leaves on that branches. Better leave them do their job and get some energy back..
If you see the tree struggle to maintain the canopy under morning sun you will know on which branch to remove a couple leaves!
 

Shibui

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Usually I avoid pruning maples before or just after bud break because here they bleed badly after pruning at that time however after root pruning there's no such problem so Now would be a good time to cut for you.
There's no waiting time after root pruning for maples. I usually do both prune and repot in one session.
Pruning can also be done later in spring after the leaves open fully, summer and Autumn. I now avoid pruning closer to leaf drop because it sometimes stimulates new shoots that don't go dormant in our winters however trees that have done this have been fine the next year.

It is really hard to assess relative merits of different chops from a couple of 2D photos as we can't see how the tree bends back and forwards in photos. You'll need to decide as you can see all the relative bends and taper.
Not sure I'd prune as in the 2nd photo because the remaining branch appears to make a straight line and I prefer trees to have some movement in the trunk and branches. Removing the opposite branch leaves a trunk with a natural looking bend and gives you more options to prune as in pic 3 I think?

Note that removing large parts of any tree will slow the growth and thickening of the trunk so pruning now will keep your maple trunk smaller and thinner for longer. If that's Ok go for it whenever you want but if you aim for a thicker trunk it could pay to leave everything for a few years.
Unfortunately there's no such thing as good, instant bonsai.
 

Mattfly

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Usually I avoid pruning maples before or just after bud break because here they bleed badly after pruning at that time however after root pruning there's no such problem so Now would be a good time to cut for you.
There's no waiting time after root pruning for maples. I usually do both prune and repot in one session.
Pruning can also be done later in spring after the leaves open fully, summer and Autumn. I now avoid pruning closer to leaf drop because it sometimes stimulates new shoots that don't go dormant in our winters however trees that have done this have been fine the next year.

It is really hard to assess relative merits of different chops from a couple of 2D photos as we can't see how the tree bends back and forwards in photos. You'll need to decide as you can see all the relative bends and taper.
Not sure I'd prune as in the 2nd photo because the remaining branch appears to make a straight line and I prefer trees to have some movement in the trunk and branches. Removing the opposite branch leaves a trunk with a natural looking bend and gives you more options to prune as in pic 3 I think?

Note that removing large parts of any tree will slow the growth and thickening of the trunk so pruning now will keep your maple trunk smaller and thinner for longer. If that's Ok go for it whenever you want but if you aim for a thicker trunk it could pay to leave everything for a few years.
Unfortunately there's no such thing as good, instant bonsai.
 

Mattfly

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Okay I thought about it all day and I’m gonna hold off on cutting it for a year or two, even though I already ordered some concave cutters and cut paste. Thanks everyone
 

sorce

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Not a fan of that cut or timing.

Nice weed tree tho!

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

RKatzin

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Hi Mattfly, and welcome! Good call on giving this tree some time. Although I love my mikawa I don't think it's a good first tree for a beginner.
I say this simply because it's a dwarf variety and as such it is very slow to develop and recovery is slow. Any standard variety will out stride this tree by years. As a beginner I know you want something that you can 'work' on to gain experience, not something you have to let grow and wait on. You want to see exuberant growth that you can train on a regular schedule.
I would highly recommend that you get yourself another maple to ' play' with while you let this one grow. Like mine is twelve years old and I am about to do my first airlayer on it. It will not strike roots on a cutting, I've tried many times.
Get yourself a non-dwarf variety like a Coral bark maple and you will be able to do all the things you mentioned a couple of times over while this tree is coming along.
 

Mattfly

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Hi Mattfly, and welcome! Good call on giving this tree some time. Although I love my mikawa I don't think it's a good first tree for a beginner.
I say this simply because it's a dwarf variety and as such it is very slow to develop and recovery is slow. Any standard variety will out stride this tree by years. As a beginner I know you want something that you can 'work' on to gain experience, not something you have to let grow and wait on. You want to see exuberant growth that you can train on a regular schedule.
I would highly recommend that you get yourself another maple to ' play' with while you let this one grow. Like mine is twelve years old and I am about to do my first airlayer on it. It will not strike roots on a cutting, I've tried many times.
Get yourself a non-dwarf variety like a Coral bark maple and you will be able to do all the things you mentioned a couple of times over while this tree is coming along.
 

rollwithak

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Okay I thought about it all day and I’m gonna hold off on cutting it for a year or two, even though I already ordered some concave cutters and cut paste. Thanks everyone
Go get some nursery stock to practice on. Maybe a juniper. Winter is a good time for pruning. Don’t fall into the beginner vortex of getting a tree and wanting to do everything immediately. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Everyone on this forum has been new and knows the feeling of excitement and wanting to practice, but then we all learned the hard way why our trees got sick andor died.

Steady as she goes!

PS, this may be a good practice tree, that graft junction looks pretty gnarly! Grafted maples aren’t typically the best material for bonsai right out of the gates!

Welcome!!!
 
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