A quick post on a trident maple and a unique technique for thickening the base.
A friend and I ordered about a hundred bare root tridents several years ago.
He had done all the legwork and asked me to split the order; he wanted to try this thing he had read about where you take a seedling:
Slip a CD (a cd is an obsolete music storage artifact that’s used nowadays for sun catchers and anti-squirrel devices. There are things called cd-r’s, cd-rom’s, cd-wr’s and such but they are completely different.
At least for the purpose of the running gag I’ll be using).
Take said seedling and slip it through the convenient center hole:
Making sure that some of the roots stay above the hole.
Then, plant the whole artifact into a pot or the ground and what should happen is the roots above the cd will spread out radially and then start growing down the side of the cd and thicken quickly. The roots stuck through the center hole will eventually be pinched off as they get too big for that hole.
So how does this work?
Better than just plunking them into a pot.
This is the root spread on the larger trident we planted.
Not bad.
One mistake we made was to allow one root to grow out of the bottom of the pot and into the ground.
Watch as I rotate the tree:

Kinda unfortunate.
How will I mitigate it?
I love the word “mitigate”.
I feel like Jean Luc Picard when I use it.
“We must find a way to mitigate the destruction of the Talesian spider monkey without violating the Prime Directive. Let’s execute the kardashian gambit and distract the Talesians with some “big booty style”.
Make it so Number One!
And be sure make record of it so I can….review…the footage at my…leisure”.
Whoa. Sorry about that one.
But I can totally imagine that monologue in Patrick Stewart’s voice.
Anyway, I can cut back the roots that grew off the sides and down:

And I can remove the cd now too.
Which has been split apart anyway.
Then I cut back the roots to a side root in order to introduce some taper and movement (yes, those elements are important in the roots too).
And now for the “mitigation”.
That big root is just way out of proportion to the other roots.
It’s almost obscene-
Have you heard of a trunk chop?
You can do a root chop on some trees too.
I cut it just beyond a root branching-
This will help that huge cut to callous over and hopefully throw more roots out of the end.
I don’t need to seal the cut end as it will be under the soil and can still absorb water, to a degree.
Now a real trunk chop:
Just to the first branch.
A new pot with bonsai soil and sturdy tie down wires.
And then, cover the roots to keep them from drying out.
That’s all. Let it grow for two more years or so.
Growing from seeds and seedlings takes time.
The next post will deal with a rather bigger trident maple…..
Stay tuned!

13 thoughts

  1. You can try a tile too, I saw it on a book I’m reading, I have in the garage a yamadori, a maple , still alive but sleeping…great idea, I will try the cd as the yamadori is really young, thanks for sharing 🙂


    1. The tile works well for trees without a tap root. By keeping the taproot you get the benefit of the extra root to grow the tree. And the hole will effectively cut it for you after a while


  2. I like that idea. Matthew and I have several bare root Am. Elm, Pond, Bald cypress I got at Dragontree a few weeks ago-this looks like a perfect plan for some of them. Since I’m a card (AARP) carrying baby boomer maybe I can use some of those 45rmp records buried in a closet somewhere.


  3. Thanks a lot for this great idea and good use of the good old CD. I tried planting a pyracantha on top of a small bowl. Pyracanthas are next to indestructable, yet I managed to change this one into fire wood.


  4. Someone else has said this already about using a tile or an old dinner plate. I drilled a 1″ hole and put 7 year old Dawn Redwood in it. Grew it for 3 years with the plate in a wooden box (18″ x 12″ x 3″). The result ended in a 36″ tall with a 1-1/4″ trunk.
    Put it in a glazed pot and it looks good. The one thing I noticed was that there was less top growth. Sparse branching.


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