New to bonsai - where to purchase affordable and more mature Japanese maple

natg

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Hi all,

I've just recently started to explore bonsai and I've quickly become obsessed. I was gifted a seed starter kit for my birthday and I also purchase a young Arakawa Japanese maple from my local nursery. This maple came in a 1 gallon container and is only about half an inch in diameter. From what I've ready, it seems the best thing to do with this tree is to progressively pot it into larger pots and allow the trunk to increase in size over the years. I'm quite excited about the Arakawa maple, however, I don't want to wait 10 years for the tree to develop before working with more mature material. Is it generally fine to purchase from a nursery a larger garden tree that I can just chop back to size and start a trunk taper from there? Are there any issues with nursery trees growing too straight at the trunk base and not working well as bonsai? If this is the direction I should go, what is a good age tree to get/what is a good size to start with, what is a good amount of $$$ to spend on a mature tree, and are there any California/west coast suppliers you recommend? Also, are there any Japanese maple learning resources you recommend (books, courses, etc.)?
 

Paradox

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Hi all,

I've just recently started to explore bonsai and I've quickly become obsessed. I was gifted a seed starter kit for my birthday and I also purchase a young Arakawa Japanese maple from my local nursery. This maple came in a 1 gallon container and is only about half an inch in diameter. From what I've ready, it seems the best thing to do with this tree is to progressively pot it into larger pots and allow the trunk to increase in size over the years. I'm quite excited about the Arakawa maple, however, I don't want to wait 10 years for the tree to develop before working with more mature material. Is it generally fine to purchase from a nursery a larger garden tree that I can just chop back to size and start a trunk taper from there? Are there any issues with nursery trees growing too straight at the trunk base and not working well as bonsai? If this is the direction I should go, what is a good age tree to get/what is a good size to start with, what is a good amount of $$$ to spend on a mature tree, and are there any California/west coast suppliers you recommend? Also, are there any Japanese maple learning resources you recommend (books, courses, etc.)?
Welcome to BNut and the craziness that bonsai is.

Unfortunately most maples in garden nurseries tend to have ugly grafts which will detract from being a nice bonsai. A lot of cultivars also arent as good for bonsai because they have large leaves and long internodes. Sometimes these can be overcome with training but you have to have the right cultivar. Some dont lend them selves to bonsai as well as others

Your best bet is to buy a tree from a bonsai nursery that has been grown with bonsai in mind. That way you can get a good cultivar that is good for bonsai and wont have the ugly graft that could cause issues later on. Now going this route will be more expensive than buying a garden nursery tree and chopping it down but you will get to a nicer tree faster because a lot of the work has already been done for you.

As for prices, of course what you get depends on what you pay to some extent. You are in California I gather? Please put your location on you profile so we dont have to ask all the time and can give you the best advice. There are tons of places in California and they seem to have lower pricing overall than other parts of the country because the competition over there is higher (ie more bonsai places).

There are others on the forums that can tell you where the best places in California are than I.
I suggest you shop around and decide what you can spend on a tree for what you want and go from there.
Save your money if you want something nicer than you are initially able to afford.

An excellent book is Peter Adams book on Japanese Maples
 

HorseloverFat

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Greetings, Wanderer! Round the bend lies the Tiny Forest. The rhythm there will cause obsessive undulation. Prepare yourself, the Woody Dwarves are readying the ceremony.

You’ve found a wellspring of shared knowledge and gathered experience.. all communal, of course. Drink when you are thirsty, give when you can.

Pleasure to make your acquaintance!

For the sake of fostering a more effective channel of communication and well as relevant information (pertaining to YOUR ‘environment’), you may want to go ahead and update your account information to reflect a generalized location.. so you wouldn’t have to say, for example, “California, USDA zone 9” EVERY time you needed some help or wanted to share some info.. it can be vague, mine just says “NorthEastern Wisconsin”...

Stay tuned for more specific advice related to your actual QUESTIONS.

🤣🤣🤣
 

natg

Seedling
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Central Valley California
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Welcome to BNut and the craziness that bonsai is.

Unfortunately most maples in garden nurseries tend to have ugly grafts which will detract from being a nice bonsai. A lot of cultivars also arent as good for bonsai because they have large leaves and long internodes. Sometimes these can be overcome with training but you have to have the right cultivar. Some dont lend them selves to bonsai as well as others

Your best bet is to buy a tree from a bonsai nursery that has been grown with bonsai in mind. That way you can get a good cultivar that is good for bonsai and wont have the ugly graft that could cause issues later on. Now going this route will be more expensive than buying a garden nursery tree and chopping it down but you will get to a nicer tree faster because a lot of the work has already been done for you.

As for prices, of course what you get depends on what you pay to some extent. You are in California I gather? Please put your location on you profile so we dont have to ask all the time and can give you the best advice. There are tons of places in California and they seem to have lower pricing overall than other parts of the country because the competition over there is higher (ie more bonsai places).

There are others on the forums that can tell you where the best places in California are than I.
I suggest you shop around and decide what you can spend on a tree for what you want and go from there.
Save your money if you want something nicer than you are initially able to afford.

An excellent book is Peter Adams book on Japanese Maples
Hi! and thank you so much for the reply! I am in California (specifically zone 9b). I also did not know that about nursery cultivars and the grafting issues, so thanks for that info! In that case, I imagine the Arakawa I already purchased will have that issue? (the website mentioned the trees are often used for bonsai, but I guess that isn't necessarily reliable). That's disappointing, but oh well.

I'll check out Peter Adams book and will update my profile (sorry I didn't think to post my USDA zone)!
 

natg

Seedling
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Location
Central Valley California
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Greetings, Wanderer! Round the bend lies the Tiny Forest. The rhythm there will cause obsessive undulation. Prepare yourself, the Woody Dwarves are readying the ceremony.

You’ve found a wellspring of shared knowledge and gathered experience.. all communal, of course. Drink when you are thirsty, give when you can.

Pleasure to make your acquaintance!

For the sake of fostering a more effective channel of communication and well as relevant information (pertaining to YOUR ‘environment’), you may want to go ahead and update your account information to reflect a generalized location.. so you wouldn’t have to say, for example, “California, USDA zone 9” EVERY time you needed some help or wanted to share some info.. it can be vague, mine just says “NorthEastern Wisconsin”...

Stay tuned for more specific advice related to your actual QUESTIONS.

🤣🤣🤣
Thanks! Incredibly excited! I'll update my profile...didn't think to do that initially (just made the profile a few minutes ago).
 

Paradox

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Hi! and thank you so much for the reply! I am in California (specifically zone 9b). I also did not know that about nursery cultivars and the grafting issues, so thanks for that info! In that case, I imagine the Arakawa I already purchased will have that issue? (the website mentioned the trees are often used for bonsai, but I guess that isn't necessarily reliable). That's disappointing, but oh well.

I'll check out Peter Adams book and will update my profile (sorry I didn't think to post my USDA zone)!

We would have to see a picture of the tree to tell you that. It is possible there are maples sold at garden nurseries in California that are not grafted. Pretty much all of the ones sold here are as far as I have seen.
It is something you should be aware of when hunting for trees. You might get lucky and find a nursery that has some that are not grafted.
 

Hack Yeah!

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If it is a grafted tree, arakawa has the unfortunate problem of the root stock not producing the same textured bark. You can fix that by airlayer.... here's an example of one I currently have set. Easy to do, just a little research here on b'nut, welcome to the site
20210103_152055.jpg
 

natg

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We would have to see a picture of the tree to tell you that. It is possible there are maples sold at garden nurseries in California that are not grafted. Pretty much all of the ones sold here are as far as I have seen.
It is something you should be aware of when hunting for trees. You might get lucky and find a nursery that has some that are not grafted.
Here is a picture of the base of the tree. Is the v section at the bottom the graft?
 

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Paradox

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Here is a picture of the base of the tree. Is the v section at the bottom the graft?

Yes that is a graft and a pretty ugly one Im sorry to say.
As Hack Yeah, suggested, you could try an air layer this spring (not sure how well that cultivar air layers, some do better than others).
Either way, you will learn how to do it and its another tool in your arsenal for the future.
 

natg

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Yes that is a graft and a pretty ugly one Im sorry to say.
As Hack Yeah, suggested, you could try an air layer this spring (not sure how well that cultivar air layers, some do better than others).
Either way, you will learn how to do it and its another tool in your arsenal for the future.
Don't be sorry! the tree was quite cheaply purchased and if anything it will be a good learning resource as you and Hack Yeah have suggested.
 

Hack Yeah!

Chumono
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You will generally want to use this on trees that are closer to your finished bonsai trunk size. However you can do it on smaller material just to start propagating. Look at the roots in the bag in my pic, it's ready to separate and plant on its own
 

leatherback

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Arakawa maple layers well, and grows well on their own roots.
No reason to wait for the tree to get larger; If you do it earlier, you will earlier have the rough bark on the roots.
 

Warlock

Mame
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If it is a grafted tree, arakawa has the unfortunate problem of the root stock not producing the same textured bark. You can fix that by airlayer.... here's an example of one I currently have set. Easy to do, just a little research here on b'nut, welcome to the site
View attachment 347617
Good idea!! This is perfect for one of mine
 
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