Trunk Chop with Later Repot?

dbonsaiw

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So I have a nursery stock maple that needs a trunk chop and repot. My thinking was to chop it in early spring and take advantage of the giant root system it currently has to get some strong growth this year. Question is can I wait until summer to repot and trunk chop now or should I just do everything now? alternatively, I could wait until next year to repot and chop now. Again, my logic is that there is a benefit to having an established root system to regrow the tree after the chop.
 

Kodama

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Hmmm...will you be chopping above a lower branch? Got any pics you can share?
 

LanceMac10

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Are you in a hurry? Assess the soil it's currently in. I would remove the old soil first and get it into some good soil. Establish peak vigor before your drastic prune.

Alternatively, chop and repot in tandem to lessen the "bleeding".

Big root-ball is nice, but if it's still in crappy soil, you just asking for trouble.

Contrary to what you might be hearing around here, do not repot in summer.........
 

dbonsaiw

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Hmmm...will you be chopping above a lower branch? Got any pics you can share?
The tree is a lace leaf maple which I purchased for the root stock (I know, usually the other way around, keep as landscape etc. - I will be cutting it). Attached is a pic. There is a tiny branch growing from the root stock, but I will be cutting much higher to right below the graft - about a foot from the soil.
Are you in a hurry? Assess the soil it's currently in.
I'm in no rush other than wanting to have something closer to a bonsai in 10 years or so. The soil is decent as far as nursery organic soil is concerned.
Contrary to what you might be hearing around here, do not repot in summer.........
I've heard this quite a bit and there seems to be a good deal of debate on this issue that a newbie like me has difficulty navigating. Is this a blanket rule? For example, I have a few trees that (in my real newbie-ness) I repotted in the fall (for a second time). I was advised not to chop these now and, instead, to let the roots re-grow and only cut in the summer. Can you shed more light on this topic?
 

sorce

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I'd layer it just under the graft and continue the top in the ground.

See what that offers down low and don't get attached, especially not to a plan.

Odd how layers' tops are supported by the lower root mass till they "grow enough roots", then we remove most of this support (Repot) in the middle of ...summer.

Hell, before I started this uninvasive layer removal program, I , like almost everyone else still, was going full ham on the sphag roots too.
Can't chalk losses, if any, up to summer.
Way more successes than losses.

Can't argue they get removed in spring cause on the flip, everyone fears winter too!

You know you're doing something backwards when you fear both summer and winter, for reasons already wholly categorized as fiction.

Work WITH the tree and it simply gifts you growth in summer and rest in winter.

Sorce
 

Kodama

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I agree with @sorce on trying to layer that if you are not in a hurry and you want to chop it anyway.
If you start the air layer in spring you might have good roots by fall and then chop but then good aftercare.
2 from 1. Heck, You might even be able to get a few potensai out of that one. If those fail you will at least still have your trunk stock.
 

dbonsaiw

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I'd layer it just under the graft and continue the top in the ground.
I like this idea as well and actually didn't even think to keep a little of the root stock's trunk for the layer. Good call.

For my edification, can one trunk chop in spring and then repot in summer on maples or is that too much for the tree?
 

Dav4

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Healthy maples can be aggressively chopped and root pruned all in one go… Read that as a 75+% reduction in roots and a 50 to 75% reduction in trunk and branches. If I were trying to develop it as a bonsai I would either chop and re-pot all at once or re-pot now and chop late spring early summer.
 

dbonsaiw

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Healthy maples can be aggressively chopped and root pruned all in one go… Read that as a 75+% reduction in roots and a 50 to 75% reduction in trunk and branches. If I were trying to develop it as a bonsai I would either chop and re-pot all at once or re-pot now and chop late spring early summer.
Got it, and my plan is to chop it and repot in one go (no layer for this guy - my 8 year old wants to spray the top of the tree with something clear and put it in his room as decoration).

I still have the same question, however. CAN one trunk chop in spring (using the larger root system for the new shoots) and then repot in the summer? It's not what I plan on doing, may not be best practices etc. But my question is a simple one - CAN it be done without harm to the tree?
 

Dav4

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Got it, and my plan is to chop it and repot in one go (no layer for this guy - my 8 year old wants to spray the top of the tree with something clear and put it in his room as decoration).

I still have the same question, however. CAN one trunk chop in spring (using the larger root system for the new shoots) and then repot in the summer? It's not what I plan on doing, may not be best practices etc. But my question is a simple one - CAN it be done without harm to the tree?
I don’t repot in summer unless I absolutely have to. You’ll have to get your answer from someone who does.
 

Paradox

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Got it, and my plan is to chop it and repot in one go (no layer for this guy - my 8 year old wants to spray the top of the tree with something clear and put it in his room as decoration).

I still have the same question, however. CAN one trunk chop in spring (using the larger root system for the new shoots) and then repot in the summer? It's not what I plan on doing, may not be best practices etc. But my question is a simple one - CAN it be done without harm to the tree?

Think about it this way.
Leaves have a lot of surface area and lose a ton of water in the summer heat/sun due to transpiration.
They rely on the roots to give them water to replace the water they lose on a daily basis.
When you repot and prune roots, you compromise the ability of the roots to take up and deliver water to the upper parts of the tree for a time (a few weeks).
With the leaves losing water every day, does it seem like a good idea to cut off their only source of water when they need it most?
No, you cant spray the leaves down with water every day to alleviate lack of water transport from the roots.
 

sorce

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can one trunk chop in spring and then repot in summer on maples or is that too much for the tree?

I hold to the "one insult per year" rule steadfastly regardless of Repot time, especially with Repot.

Doing this with everything allows you to gain confidence in your repotting, without wondering if it was the "both" that did them in if they die.

This clarity is priceless. It may allow you to adapt more risky methods, like "saving bleeding" by doing both at once, but it, and a, almost excessive honor to patience because I uncovered the wolf in sheep's clothing that is impatience in bonsai, has me extending patience with this new concept which is so much more important than "aftercare".....

Prior Care!

I found an entire season of healthy unrestrained growth allows health enough for Repot and won't impede design with too much growth. Call this a 100 for the following....

Risk Assessment....
Give everything a "setback value".

Trunk chop.
A chop to bare is highly risky. (90)
A bud less risky. (60)
A branch with buds safest. (30)

Repot.
Bare root and heavy removal. (90)
Half removal. (60)
Slip pot. (30)

A chop and repot should always be considered 2 moves, with seperate goals for each, only combining them when you know each "setback value" doesn't exceed 100.

For me, a tree/trunk is only considered horticulturally at Repot time, except to ensure excess recovery growth doesn't impede design. The only idea is to set it up as horticulturally favorable as possible to regrow the roots, no risk setback values.

For me this includes a planned defoil on maple and prune to "trunk extension buds", these are the thick juicy ones that will grow most surely and most healthily, providing the most auxin to regrow roots.

Bud Values.
Fat trunk extension buds. (30)
Smaller side fill buds. (60)
Latent Buds or Nodes. (90)

These are the values that we must seek to "balance" on the top and bottom at Repot.

The year prior is used to get branches looking like this....
20220106_103721~3.jpg

Then upon Repot, isolate the rootgrower sacrifice tips from the keeper fork, using this removal for "balance" as appropriate.
20220106_103721~2.jpg
Then when the roots are refreshed, hit it at the yellow.

Of trunk chops.
I think it's most important to consider timing as such....
Chop in Summer when you need the activity reaction. (New lower branches)
Chop in winter when new low branches will impede design.
We are in control of wound care and healing regardless of time.
The only thing toying with our design is the amount of reaction to the chop.

Sorce
 

dbonsaiw

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This was hiding under the soil.
 

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dbonsaiw

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As an update, the tree was trunk chopped to about 12 inches and it was repotted in 40% pumice, 40% calcined clay, 20% pine bark. As for my thinking, I decided to stick to the original plan. I purchased the tree late last fall so that I could have something a little larger to work with. I'm trying to have a bunch of trees in different stages, and this one was supposed to be my trunk chop in the fall tree. And so it was. This means I sacrificed the laceleaf. We will lacquer it and turn it into a piece for the house.

All things being equal, I would have followed Sorce's advice and just go slower to ensure survival. But I am impetuous by nature, and well I need to work on this in my bonsai pursuits. I figure I got at least 120 points on the Sorce scale, so say a prayer for this tree.

Not much to say about the chop. Straight cut across fairly high up. There was a good deal of bleeding, even with the root work. I couldn't keep the wound sealant on. The layer I applied yesterday seems to have stuck somewhat.

The root system was massive. I started to comb out the root system and concluded I was simply working on roots that I would end up cutting. So I turned the tree on its side (always careful not to break the one and only branch on it) and simply sawed half the soil off the plant. It was then infinitely easier to work on the giant of mass of roots that was left over. I then cut all giant roots, downward growing roots and gave the radial roots a little trim. Even after all this, there was still a hefty root system left over.

It looks like at least one bud is elongating. Will keep you posted.

I will now allow the tree to regrow as I decide what to do with him going forward. He could make a cool broom, but I'd prefer to see if I can add some taper and movement to the trunk and go for something different. Let's see what grows in the spring.
 

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