Technical Question - Maple, Sun or Shade?


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SW WA, USA, zone 8a
I've broadened the question beyond just vine maples, which I am specifically observing in nature, and thus my question. I realize the standard/common/default answer is shade and it matches what we generally see, that is vine maples grow under an evergreen forest canopy. OK I get that, but I'm able to get my maples from an area where man has drastically changed these maple's natural environment, specifically a 40 acre clear cut logged about 3-5 years ago (waiting for property owner to call me back with exact year logging was done). (OK, see photo comparison)

What I'm seeing between these two is a stark contrast, and the same is seen in the woods comparing shady vs sunny. Plants in full sun are backbudded like crazy, have coral colored branches (including coral tinges throughout the bark) and the bark has a great deal of character or ruggedness. Plants in full shade (under surrounding unlogged forest canopy) have sparce backbudding until you get up to the upper branch tip buds, have an olive green coloring throughout, and bark with little character except at the base within a foot or two of the ground (and a trunk 10 to 20 feet long). I immediately think sun is the diff but pondering other possibles I ome up with maybe the trauma of a forest of trees drug over you would trigger backbudding of sun ones, (but I see in the clear cut many maples with no sign of trauma, yet they too are full of backbudding). But I continue to reason why, oh wait, without a whole forest of trees taking all those nutrients there is much to be had by the maples with no forest, (but the canopy provides mulch, and moss and... ie enough food?). So at this point I have nothing conclusive, the photots I show are untouched, I didn't add sprouts to the sunny one, nor did I remove them form the shady one. Comparing ones still in the forest, it is just as stark as these two photos, sun-budding, not sun-not budding.
? Has anyone else noticed this?
? Does anyone intentially keep their maples in the sun to increase back budding?
? Do you move them to the shade to intentially reduce back budding?
? Am I just crazy and what I see is just uniqueness to this 120 acre area.
? Is the back budding in sunny do to sun's nutrients or unshared ground supply, or both, or neither, or?
? Is the coral coloring from the sun "burning"?
? Is the rough character of the bark in sun just manifesting the weathering it gets over shady?
? How can I or should I apply this to my bonsai?
*** Preemptive apologies to those of you who are not detail oriented, but I think I'm attempting to ask this to those who are. And apologies to those who are detail oriented for such a quandary filled question. ***


Drop Branch Murphy
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SE MI- Bonsai'd for 12 years both MA and N GA
Shade tolerant plants are just that...most would prefer full sun assuming they can keep up with transpiration. Full sun means more photosynthesizing which means more fuel for growth so I'd expect trees in full sun to be robust and strongly growing, assuming all the other important criteria were met, ie fertile soil with adequate water, etc. I routinely see palmatums planted in full sun down here in GA, and I'd think maples in full sun in the Pacific NW would absolutely thrive. Potted maples in my collection don't get full sun only because it's limited and I give the conifers as much as I can. Wind is more of an enemy to maples then sun, I'd say. Talk to other hobbyists in your area for confirmation, but I'd think putting your maples in full sun, assuming you have the room, would be fine. As far as your pictures go, the difference between the two could be genetic as well as environmental...the one on the left is what I'd consider "normal".


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Orange County, CA
My maples grow best in full sun, with shorter internodes and between branch and trunk development. However, in summer, the ones in the sun stay less pretty and green than the ones that get more shade. Their leaves crisp up at the edges sometimes, and they look weaker, even though they aren't.


Nonsense Rascal
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Berwyn, Il
The barking makes sense.
But the red twigs vs. Green twigs......
Pretty sure it is a different maple.

The general consensus has always been, wind is bad. Time and time again, the wind is the crisper of leaves!

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