Should I just let this maple keep growing?

Swill

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Does this maple need some pruning work or should I just let it keep growing? I'd like it to be thicker but I also would like to see more lower branches.



 

drew33998

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How long has it been in the grow bed? Doesn't look like its been there for too long. Unless it started as a cutting. I vote 3 years longer with possible chop after 2
 

Tieball

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I agree with the let it grow more plan. Others will comment in if any root trenching would be useful at this stage. Is the tree growing on top of anything....such as a tile or board? Has the tap root already been remover and roots strategically placed for good horizontal growth?

Letting it grow will give you much more tree to work with. A chop after the third year might be a good plan...assuming you get good growth in years one, two and three.
 

jomawa

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Does this maple need some pruning work or should I just let it keep growing? I'd like it to be thicker but I also would like to see more lower branches.
It's showing a lot of growth up top, which is where maples tend to put it by default, bypassing the lower. To get lower growth, you tend to need to force it. I would remove that total height at least by half (maybe even 3/4 removed), thus forcing lower growth by backbudding, and also do a heavy prune back of much of those longer branches. I'm no visionary, that is I don't "see" the bonsais within the trees, but I see some potential character in the (visualize a can on the one in the lower picture) two can height of your tree. A great deal of fine detail toward backbudding and shaping your maple can be gained by google-ing "maple bud removal" and paying attention to the triple bud aspect of maples (understanding which is leaf bud and which is stem bud). And we bnutters will stay tuned for further documentation and photos of your progress.
 

Dav4

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Maple trunks are usually grown out in segments. Once the lower segment has achieved the desired girth, the trunk is chopped back and a new leader is established and allowed to grow until it has reached the desired thickness, rinse and repeat. Having an idea of what you want from this tree will help. Another thing to consider now is the roots under the soil. Getting the roots in order while the tree is young will save you much frustration. Good luck.
 

Tieball

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Maple trunks are usually grown out in segments. Once the lower segment has achieved the desired girth, the trunk is chopped back and a new leader is established and allowed to grow until it has reached the desired thickness, rinse and repeat. Having an idea of what you want from this tree will help.
Good point written. Perhaps a question back to Swill.....How thick of a trunk are you thinking about for your future tree? You may need to chop really low. Grow. Chop. Grow.......and work your way up to the trunk you imagine. What are you thinking? Giving that information out you might get more targeted, more helpful information to achieve your goal. It might help.
 

Djtommy

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Maple trunks are usually grown out in segments. Once the lower segment has achieved the desired girth, the trunk is chopped back and a new leader is established and allowed to grow until it has reached the desired thickness, rinse and repeat. Having an idea of what you want from this tree will help. Another thing to consider now is the roots under the soil. Getting the roots in order while the tree is young will save you much frustration. Good luck.
You are right this is the way often done and the result is then a trunk with big taper and scars that hopefully heal in time. Then they tend to grow horizontal branches and It will probably look nice but most of the time not more than that.
Isnt it better to chop more often so you have smaller scars that can heal cleanly? It would probably take longer but endresult is probably better.
In my opinion taper is nice but for a maple i quite like if this is more subtle and not bang taper in your face. It looks more natural this way.
 

aml1014

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You are right this is the way often done and the result is then a trunk with big taper and scars that hopefully heal in time. Then they tend to grow horizontal branches and It will probably look nice but most of the time not more than that.
Isnt it better to chop more often so you have smaller scars that can heal cleanly? It would probably take longer but endresult is probably better.
In my opinion taper is nice but for a maple i quite like if this is more subtle and not bang taper in your face. It looks more natural this way.
I agree in the way that I like maples to have subtle taper and nice movement. The problem with chopping more often is, if the lower trunk isnt thick enough to your liking to begin with, it will not thicken much if at all until the next section of trunk has reached the same girth as the first portion of the trunk, so you get very minimal taper and it actually will take longer. I would say let it grow until you like the thickness then chop back.

Aaron
 

rockm

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"I'd like it to be thicker but I also would like to see more lower branches."

Bottom line, you can't really do both at the same time. to get thicker, the trunk has to have supporting top growth, which means the longer you go without chopping it, the more quickly it will develop diameter.

To develop lower branching, hard pruning is required. Trunk chops usually lead to buds on bare wood in deciduous trees. Lower branching is usually developed AFTER the trunk has obtained the desired heft. Branches are a secondary process in developing a tree.
 

0soyoung

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Does this maple need some pruning work or should I just let it keep growing? I'd like it to be thicker but I also would like to see more lower branches.
Having been down this road before, were it my tree, I would chop it as @Alain suggested - upper right branch becomes the new leader. Sometime in May or early June when the first flush has been hardened, cut back the leader. Don't cut anything else. This ought to give the tree many new low branches.

Just after leaf drop, I would bend any available branches and wire them into position to make approach grafts in positions (in spring 2017) on the trunk that you either want a branch but don't have one or to just to add more lower branches - these will help thicken the portion of the trunk below faster than the part above (once taken, of course). At this same time I can also wire young branches to point them where I want them to go or to give them some movement (not let anything be straight as an arrow). Since I have a tree (yours) with a nice smooth curve of movement, I want the branches to have similar smooth curves, so I will likely have a lot of wiring to do this coming fall (2016).

Then I want to continue grafting and heading it back by pruning harder the higher up the tree (i.e, making a very exaggerated Xmas tree) until it is getting near the proportions I want. It should also have some nice taper with little in the way of scars. At this point in the future, I would start eliminating extra branches and pruning hard to build the branching I want.
 
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Woodland Spirit

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Osoyoung, that's what I've read 90 percent of the blogs, threads, books, on trunk and branch development. Not all were about maple but it seems a widely applicable way to get to the goal.

Correct me if I'm wrong but from what I read, the requirement for trunk thickening is a lot of good strong branches, but exactly where they are on the tree depends on where and what manner of growth you want.
You can develop branches and trunk as long as you don't cut or bend down too many at one time. It does slow the growth when you cut but later is made up for by branching, thus drawing more sap and making more food and so thickening the trunk.

Yes?
 

0soyoung

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Osoyoung, that's what I've read 90 percent of the blogs, threads, books, on trunk and branch development. Not all were about maple but it seems a widely applicable way to get to the goal.

Correct me if I'm wrong but from what I read, the requirement for trunk thickening is a lot of good strong branches, but exactly where they are on the tree depends on where and what manner of growth you want.
You can develop branches and trunk as long as you don't cut or bend down too many at one time. It does slow the growth when you cut but later is made up for by branching, thus drawing more sap and making more food and so thickening the trunk.

Yes?
Yes.

Trees grow on the photosynthates produced by the foliage (wood is just a sugar polymer). The stimulus for this is auxin produced by the foliage and apical meristems (buds). The more auxin the more the vascular cambium cells divide --> more foliage = more growth.

Photosynthates (food) are carried down the tree in the inner bark (phloem) largely by gravity, but also by the pressure generated by the foliage loading the goods into a phloem tube.
 

AlainK

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Leaving a leader branch grow for several months will thicken the base of the trunk.

If you follow Osoyoung's method, the first cut shoukld heal in a couple of years, and the others will take even a shorter time since they will be smaller and smaller.
 
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This is always the damn if you do... dammed if you don't scenario in Bonsai, and the issue where everyone whatsoever their level of skill will always struggle with... To cut or allow to grow.

The truth I believe is in the middle... and that no matter which decision, their are down sides to each.

Reality... every time one cuts... they slow down growth. This is why one cuts, to slow down growth. So then really the question should be, that by cutting now, what am I hoping to achieve?

If the trunk is not the size one needs, than everything else pretty much takes a back seat. Yes, one can start perhaps a little earlier, before the size is totally there, with the understanding that as the tree becomes a Bonsai, and develops, it will add more growth. However, this growth will be minimal, due to the fact the the whole concept of Bonsai is about slowing a tree's growth down. This is what we do. Why we choose to plant in the soil we do, why we trim etc. Yes, we want lots of growth, but we want it very confined, in tight and to grow over time.

Often, this is misunderstood... there are two different phases at work. First there is the growing out of stock, preparing it to then begin to take the steps of turning it into a bonsai, and there is the step of then turning it into a bonsai. Two entirety different growing patterns and two entirely different procedures and processes.

So, the answer for me lies with the concept of whether one thinks it is time to begin to start the Bonsai process, or does this material need more time?

Yes, they can overlap some, and yes, if one has multiple branches growing full speed, this can help in courage more girth in the area of the trunk. But, this is assuming this happens... often, one branch might take off and the others fizzle out. Sometimes, they will do very well and in fact to well and will create more issues of heavy chops and scar healing than one single branch and one chop would do...

There is no right or wrong answer really here... no scientific method, this is why you have advice to do both.

My personal opinion... if you have a single leader running strong... doing it's job... and it is working, don't trade it for what if's !
 
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Swill

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How long has it been in the grow bed? Doesn't look like its been there for too long. 2
A couple of years at least, but it's been growing 4 or 5 all together I think. It started as a one year old seedling in a small nursery can and I cut the tap root and put it on a tile in the grow bed.

Having been down this road before, were it my tree, I would chop it as @Alain suggested - upper right branch becomes the new leader. Sometime in May or early June when the first flush has been hardened, cut back the leader. Don't cut anything else. This ought to give the tree many new low branches.
This is the advice I want to listen to because it's what I was leaning toward doing. I realize chopping will slow growth but I feel the end result will be better because I'm more likely to mess up larger chops.


This is always the damn if you do... dammed if you don't scenario in Bonsai, and the issue where everyone whatsoever their level of skill will always struggle with... To cut or allow to grow.

The truth I believe is in the middle... and that no matter which decision, their are down sides to each.
I think I understand this in principal better than in practice. Several trees I've let grow out to much and they've lost their taper. I'm starting to understand it better.
 

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