Trident maple pre-spring maintenance

This tree is new to the blog but old to me. I’ve had it for about 7 or eight years, but I don’t think I’ve posted it anywhere on the world wide interwebs.
It’s a trident maple (Acer buergerianum), native to east China and Taiwan, and naturalized on bonsai enthusiast’s benches all over the world.
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For some reason, I didn’t get a full frontal before shot. Maybe I’m being mysterious. Or maybe I was just delirious.
Too much meds?
Anyway, my plans with the tree are…
Redressing the big trunk chops wound.
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The top that was cut off is the subject of this here blogpost on thread grafting. I had actually rooted it as a cutting and then thread grafted more roots on it. Cool project, I should update it.
I’ll be pruning buds and cutting back hard some of the branches.
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There will be a repot.
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And I’ll toy with the idea of thread grafting some roots on this tree, but decide not to because my drill is missing…
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Time to play with some sharp objects.
That big trunk chop wound was covered with the putty like cut paste at the time of the chopping.
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I’ve scraped off about a third of the putty in the pic above. The green line is the edge of the callous, the red double line shows the putty.
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The next pic shows the putty all cleaned off.
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There’s little rot at all, a little towards the bottom of the wound.
Next step, recut the edge of the callous.
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This will stimulate the tree into closing the wound further.
Then a fresh application of putty.
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Good for another two years. If I had been more diligent in the care of this wound, it might be closed by now. But, truth be told, I had become bored with the tree. It’s care is almost like following a scheduled maintenance routine: do this in March, this is April, this in June etc…..
Which brings me to the next task: pruning.
There are some, more experienced bonsai-ists out there who are wondering why I didn’t prune this earlier in the winter (it is February now). I’ve seen people up north pruning in late December on these.
Remember, I’m in Florida. The timing of the work I do will be different than yours (except you, and you, and especially you, yeah…you. You know who you are).
If I had pruned this mid winter it would be in full leaf now, weakened from being awoken too early from its winter nap, and it might just fizzle out in the summer. I have to be really careful with my deciduous trees, it’s too warm in the winter. Florida doesn’t like them it seems; example, our red maples only grow half as tall as ones I’ve seen up north, and they’re short lived.
I don’t want my trident to be short lived. So I wait until the cusp of spring (which is February here) to prune.
My advice, find a club, find some club members with good trees (not just the big mouths or the ones who wants
to be helpful, find the club members who’s trees look like the ones you see in the Internet) and find out what soil they use, when they repot, or prune, and how. The ones with the best trees tend to be (not always, one can buy a tree, after all) the ones who have figured out the climate they, and you, live in.
So, we have a branch.
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A trident maple branch.
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What’s amazing, and annoying, is the profusion of new buds that occur at the nodes.
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The buds are the pointy, arrow shaped thingies on the branch.
They become so numerous and grow any and every way that one could, by pruning alone, create a curly cue branch.
If you don’t get rid of the multiple buds on the node, they will swell the node and cause an ugly knot that’s difficult to fix. Most of the time you have to prune back to the next node.
Keep only two buds per node.
Here’s the top.
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The strongest shoots tend to grow here. You need to cut those shoots back to where the nodes are closest.
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In this case, where the red circle is. The reason is, within the white bracket, no new buds will grow. We want short internodes to give us more choices and, therefore, more ramification.
If you go back to the pic of the top of the tree, you’ll see that I need to cut back a lot of these shoots.
Snip.
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It’s actually “Snip x 47”.
Here are some side views that show the pruning.
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Next step is a repot.
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This is the pot I’m using. I know, it might look better in an oval pot.
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But I’m trying this rectangular one. I think it will work.
To the repot!
I call this song, “The repotting ragtime blues”
Maybe I’ll do a YouTube video.
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Nice form.
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I could make dreads out of these.
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If you don’t like my chosen pot, I have this one.
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I thought not.
Now’s a good time to talk about the history of the tree.
It was a field grown tree and, even though it had a mat under it to train the roots horizontally, the mat was not up to the task. Some of the roots grew sideways, some just punched through the mat.
This is the back of the tree, the roots went straight down.
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When I lifted it from the ground I had to cut the roots in the back to a nub.
This would be a great time to do a few thread grafts…..where is my drill? Dammit Andrew, where did you put it? Teenagers! Oh well, next year then…
And this is the back of the tree, you can’t see it unless you’re a nosy S.O.B.
The roots are much more palatable in the front. They behaved better than the back roots.
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The lesson we learn is to use a material that is less root permeable than a fabric mat.
The front roots look even better in some soil, potted up.
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And here we go, the big reveal!
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Wait, stop! There’s something not quite right.
It’s too long here, and lacking in taper.
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Snip.
No mercy.
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Ah, that’s better.
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If you remember from the past three posts, you don’t fertilize a newly repotted deciduous tree (in the ramification stage) in the early spring, until you have the first flush of growth harden off.
The reason is that all the work you just did removing the long, bud-less shoots will be for naught because fertilizer now will just push fast growth and you’ll be back to the beginning. It’s controlled growth we want now.
For the next post I could do a tool maintenance theme, anyone interested in that?
If not, I have a big elm to work on. I got it from Paul Pikel.

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
This entry was posted in maintenance, refine, roots and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Trident maple pre-spring maintenance

  1. Jeff says:

    Thanks for the info Adam. great post. All of the buds that were growing at the internodes, did you just nip them off too?

  2. Phil krieg says:

    We tried but can’t grow them here in 10b…that is a sweet young thang Ya got there…
    Glad to see this was a bloodless exercise too!

  3. James says:

    nice looking tree-let us see it again when it’s leaved out.

  4. van says:

    I’m in Florida, with you… i hope it’s not me. Life is just too short, let it go, you got better things to do that far more positive. I hope you take this constructively because I admire you.

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