Shindeshojo advice

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Location
Western north carolina
USDA Zone
7
#1
So this is the 3rd year I have had this nursery bought maple, and I love this little guy. This was my first “ bonsai” purchase, yes I’m still new at this and yes the graft is ugly. However this is my tree and it’s never intended to be a show tree for the reason it’s not bonsai standard, but I don’t care I love it. So my question is should I put it in a pond basket and let it continue to grow or start shaping it now? I assume the basket is for better feeder roots, will that also help the trunk girth too? And it is in regular potting soil but I intend on putting it in something better, but this exploded with growth this season. Thanks in advance and I love this forum, it has helped so much.
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Location
Atlanta, GA, USA
USDA Zone
7B
#3
yeah, maybe start with air-layering above the graft and then plant the air-layer in bonsai medium and go from there?
 
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295
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Location
NC mountains
USDA Zone
6
#4
I keep seeing horror stories on air layering Japanese maples and people killing them off left and right. So if the graft doesn't bother you, I would hesitate to try an air layer until you research whether or not this variety takes to air layering well. It's not a bad graft (compared to many I have seen) so if the two grow at around the same rate and you have no intention of showing this tree, I might not bother. I'm sure that makes the skin crawl on die hard bonsai growers but there are a lot of examples of very nice grafted trees out there as bonsai. Maybe not as ideal but also better than a dead tree, IMO. Especially for us who are practicing and learning.

There is also the option of ground layering it since the graft isn't very high. Instead of stripping ALL of the bark off and girdling the tree you could do the wire method or do the 'light scrape' method where you only knick and scrape a little cambium and apply rooting hormone and then add another layer of soil media up around the base. Much less stress and risk to your tree. It can take longer but you are also less likely to kill it outright. Once you get some roots going you could also add root grafts and then cut the lower excess off the following year.

As usual with plants and art alike there are often many ways you can do things and there isn't always only one set path you can take to get where you want to be.
 
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144
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Location
Atlanta, GA, USA
USDA Zone
7B
#5
With an air-layer, there is a risk that the top or bottom will die, but it is small if properly done. As for differential growth-rates, I can assure you that the stock and scion will definitely grow at different rates and you will be left with an elephant-footed plant.

I do agree that ground-layering is a good option, but please do not try any 'light scrape' methods. The strip of cambium left will be enough to prevent root formation. For an air-layer, please do it right or don't do it all!
 
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295
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Location
NC mountains
USDA Zone
6
#6
With an air-layer, there is a risk that the top or bottom will die, but it is small if properly done. As for differential growth-rates, I can assure you that the stock and scion will definitely grow at different rates and you will be left with an elephant-footed plant.

I do agree that ground-layering is a good option, but please do not try any 'light scrape' methods. The strip of cambium left will be enough to prevent root formation. For an air-layer, please do it right or don't do it all!
You are welcome to disagree though the scrape method also works, if slower. I've done it many times over the past 40+ years. Even more effective if paired with the wire. Much like rooting woody cuttings.
 
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Location
Atlanta, GA, USA
USDA Zone
7B
#7
You are welcome to disagree though the scrape method also works, if slower. I've done it many times over the past 40+ years. Even more effective if paired with the wire. Much like rooting woody cuttings.
Thanks for the follow-up comment. Sounds like you have a lot of experience with it. My counter-comment is that the success rate may be species-dependent whereas a clean, complete girdling would remove this factor. And rooting woody cuttings may be the most difficult propagation method of all (except for select species like willows and many tropical species), especially during the growing season when other propagation methods are available, so I am not sure making that comparison bolsters your argument.
 
Messages
105
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65
Location
Western north carolina
USDA Zone
7
#8
Thank you for the advice and tips, they are appreciated. The one reason I like the forum so much is the critics and the experience that people have and have done that works, I don’t take things personal and I love hearing what has worked for some and not others. As far as the graft goes it will not be touched and the tree will grow freely and will be chopped and trained for my learning experience, like I said this is my first and my baby so I am going to do all I can to keep it alive. I have 2 green maples I am air layering at the moment. I am not about the traditional art and do not have the means to buy the best tools or soil, so whatever works is the road I take. This is for my personal pleasure, but in the future hopefully something will come along the way for a show. I have some pines I had my eye on for awhile so I will be collecting soon, plus I have friends with some awesome trees they said I could dig up.
 
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144
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Location
Atlanta, GA, USA
USDA Zone
7B
#10
By the way is this a good time to repot and put it in better draining soil, I was thinking of putting it in a pond basket.
Repotting should be done when the leaves have not come out yet, ideally when the leaf buds are just swelling. If roots are disrupted when the leaves are out, the plant will lose water through leaves and won't have enough roots to replace that water, so it will wilt. You can do what is called slip-potting now, meaning you slide the plant carefully out of the pot, and put the whole rootball in a larger pot containing well-draining soil. This way you won't damage the roots, and the roots will start growing into the well-draining medium.

I have done drastic rootwork at the wrong time on some plants out of necessity, and some survived, some didn't. It depends on the species and the health of the specimen, but it always risky
 
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UK. Yorkshire
#11
It's very small at the moment. The girth of the trunk often dictates the eventual height of a 'believable' image. Ratios of 6 or 7:1 are often quoted.

If this were mine I'd focus on changing out the compost for a better substrate at your next repotting & then growing it out. Every 2-3 years do some work on the nebari (I recommend you read the Ebihara maple thread for some excellent pointers here).

I've learnt first hand that growing Acer p. in the ground causes more problems than it solves so I'd stick to successively potting it on. Pond baskets are OK but I'd recommend air pots if you are going for the long term - they're far more robust, especially when your maple is large & you have to move it about.
 
Messages
105
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Location
Western north carolina
USDA Zone
7
#12
Ok I will wait till next spring to repot, I’m in no hurry. But that’s helpful thank you. The pond basket I have on hand already and that’s why I asked, but yeas it is still small I think 1” in diameter. I got to impatient with another maple and took it out of a pot and put it in the ground to thicken and well I think it died, so lesson learned. From now on it’s only pots for me no matter how long it takes.
 
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Location
UK. Yorkshire
#13
Ok I will wait till next spring to repot, I’m in no hurry. But that’s helpful thank you. The pond basket I have on hand already and that’s why I asked, but yeas it is still small I think 1” in diameter. I got to impatient with another maple and took it out of a pot and put it in the ground to thicken and well I think it died, so lesson learned. From now on it’s only pots for me no matter how long it takes.
Maples in the ground seem more prone to disease, it's harder to work roots and identify possible sources where inverse taper might occur. If you're not careful thick branches form quickly which leave big scars or the dreaded dieback.
 
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Location
CA
USDA Zone
9b
#15
By the way is this a good time to repot and put it in better draining soil, I was thinking of putting it in a pond basket.
I don't like pond baskets for maples. We don't really need them because maples already naturally produce the kind of fine roots we want, and we're repotting yearly anyway to fix problems. They are also typically deep and we want something shallow and wide. Use something like an anderson flat if you need something huge, a grow box, or just a deeper (2"+) bonsai pot.

Attached is a 2-3 year old maple after 1 year in a bonsai pot. Contrast that with what you get if you stick it in a nursery pot for a few years and don't work the roots. One method is not necessarily "better" but if you can start a single layer root system early you have less problems to fix later.
 

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Messages
105
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65
Location
Western north carolina
USDA Zone
7
#18
Ok that’s a lot of roots, haha. That looks like a arakawa, if it is that’s the next one on my list. That is mainly my collection is Japanese maples a rubrum collected and some honeysuckle, and a small spirea. All of which I have posted on here except the rubrum, I’m getting ready to get a crimson queen from a guy just to experiment. I am totally hooked and bonsai and catch myself always looking by the road or houses looking for material, my wife is going to kill me before this is over. Thanks again for all of you advice, tips and your trees.
 
Messages
479
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432
Location
New Zealand
USDA Zone
9a
#19
Ok that’s a lot of roots, haha. That looks like a arakawa, if it is that’s the next one on my list. That is mainly my collection is Japanese maples a rubrum collected and some honeysuckle, and a small spirea. All of which I have posted on here except the rubrum, I’m getting ready to get a crimson queen from a guy just to experiment. I am totally hooked and bonsai and catch myself always looking by the road or houses looking for material, my wife is going to kill me before this is over. Thanks again for all of you advice, tips and your trees.
Hi jcmmaple,
My 2 cents here - Many including me here have tried and failed at air-layering Shindeshojo. Some have had success.
This cultivar does root from cuttings (around July -your season or after lignified growth. But you will need 1-2% IBA and good humidity.
Otherwise using a grow box and unrestricted growth for 2-3 seasons then chop etc. Also sacrifice branches seem to work nicely also.
Charles
 
Messages
105
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65
Location
Western north carolina
USDA Zone
7
#20
Thank you kiwi, I am definitely going to try cuttings from it. I have some rooting hormone but I don’t think it’s strong enough so I will hunt for stronger, is it because maples are tougher to root? I have read a lot of your forums before and you have some good trees. I have a old Bloodgood in my yard and plan on taking many cuttings from, plus I have 30+ seedlings I’m growing right now. I guess you could say I have a maple addiction, but the arakawa seems to be a rare tree in NC or I would have it too.
 
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