Perhaps this post should have been called “What are you gonna do with that piece of crap?” instead of the post about the cypress. Oh well.

This chunk of tree is, believe it or not, a cutting off of a large trident maple.
This is the tree I cut it off. I think it’s been about two or three years since I did it. I stuck the cutting into some dirt and it lived.
It was a total surprise that it rooted.
So what, now, do I do with it? The annoying thing is it only put roots out on one side.
And, since there are only roots on one side and, since I have a blog I use to teach bonsai, I guess I need to do a post on how to fix that.

This is the side without roots.
Let me pull it out of the pot.

The callous is forming but there must not be any latent buds to throw roots out. (A quick tutorial on rooting cuttings: roots will form only where branches (buds) are. The roots don’t just shoot out of the bottom (although some trees, like ficus, have latent buds almost everywhere) the so-called “rooting hormone” that’s sold is actually the hormone that causes a callous to form. The quicker the cut heals, the better. So when you snip your cutting, make sure you have a bud present that makes it into the soil.)

This pic better shows the root-less-ness of this side.
The base flares well at this point so, why not actually put some roots there?
This is the extant root system.
This is the area we are going to work on. While I’m about the business of root grafting I’ll kill 3 birds with one stone.
This whole area is 1. lacking a branch 2. lacking in roots and 3. Has a big wound that will probably not heal.
How to fix all three?
If the thread graft is placed here and allowed to grow without removing any piece of it the top left will become a branch, the bottom right will become a root and the part passing through the wound will eventually fill in the hole.
So first we get some small trees

These are cutting I struck about about 2 years ago.
An assortment of drill bits.
This is about right. The hole should be (obviously) just larger than the scion.
Lets talk grafting.
With this operation the terms will be confused. You’ll see why in a second.
The rootstock that is (usually) grafted onto is called the stock.
The branch that is grafted onto the stock is called the scion.
There are several different kinds of grafting. We will be doing thread grafting.
Basically, drill a hole and insert a whip (long, thin cutting or sapling) into the trunk or branch (the first illustration).
Hopefully the tree grows and, in growing, “grafts” onto that trunk or branch (illustration two)
If you are grafting branches, you cut off the root end (# 3) if you are grafting roots you (obviously) cut the branch end.
In this case I am keeping both ends.
Do you see why the usual terminology doesn’t apply?
The rootstock is staying and the branch is staying. Which is which? I’m so confused!!
Back to work.

Drill hole.
Insert wood. (Tee hee hee, that’s what she said)
Seal with cut paste.
Why seal? To keep the bugs out. To keep moisture in. That’s all.
The dark red is the first graft. The light red is the next one.
This is the root ball. I’m not going to comb it out at this point.
Can’t see it?
The arrows show the entry point.
The black encompasses the root ball.
Looks kinda happy.

This shows the exit wound.

We need a root right in the middle. But a branch on the right.

Like that. Lets see how dexterous I am.

Success. Not only is it bent but is under the first graft. The wire is there to put some slight movement in the root. Yes, you can do that. And also to bend it horizontal to the soil level.

I put it into a larger container and I’m using pure bonsai soil. This should ensure quicker growth (but more watering)

The arrows are the new branches.

Top view.
This tree, in 5 or 6 years, might be a really gnarly looking shohin. We shall see.
The only thing to do now is water, fertilize, and……..wait.

And to finish, this drawing hopefully clarifies what I did.
Wish me luck.
I’ll be doing some grafting on a better specimen soon and I’ll write a post on it. Stay tuned.

16 thoughts

  1. Pingback: Anonymous
  2. Hey can anyone help me? How long in the spring time does it take a Trident Maple Tree to bud? I live in St.Louis MO and it’s been semi somewhat warm, but there are no spring buds on my tree. Is it dead? I’m kind of new at this bonsai thing so any help would be greatly appreciated. Also I noticed that the outer bark keeps pealing off and there is like an orange to white-ish color underneath, it’s that normal? Please help!Thanks.


    1. It might take longer than you think, I still have some that haven’t leafed out yet as well and I’m in Florida.
      The exfoliating bark is normal so don’t worry about it.


      1. I don’t know that I ever did. When I got sick a lot of those things didn’t get worked on because the timing was when I was in the hospital or recovering. There are junipers, deciduous, etc that I plan on working this winter.


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