Species Specific > Japanese Maple Bonsai Discussion

Advice on JM pruning

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Chrisl:
I bought a pre bonsai that was grown in ground 4-5 yrs.  They created a nice trunk on this 10" tall plant, as well as the first, and second branch, as well as a new leader for the new apex.  The two branches are about 3/8" thick as well as the leader.  But I don't like the location of the new leader...I should've paid closer attention this spring when I pruned it.  My question is this, should I cut the leader off now and wait for new growth at a better location, or wait till this fall?
Thanks,
chris

Adam_MA:
Any pictures?

Also, how do you over winter your trees? I'd be a bit concerned that if you cut it off now, that the new growth wouldn't have time to harden off before winter sets in.

Chrisl:
I haven't shot any photos of this plant yet.  I'm still working out the winter protection as I'm new to winters.  I have it in a 24"x18"x3" flat so my plans are to keep it in this till next year.  But I too was worried about hardening off in time, but it's going to stay warm here until Sept-Oct.  Thanks Adam!

rockm:
Do not hard prune the trunk at this point. As mentioned, any new growth that comes will probably die off come winter. Addtionally, there are several types of growth a tree produces depending on the season. We past the season for the maximum new growth back in June. The days are getting shorter now and trees are now bulking up woody tissue and storing reserves for the coming autumn----which marks the beginning their slow decent into dormancy. Top growth is now slowing or has already stopped in most trees. Root growth will continue into fall, even after leaf drop. Same is true for your maple. If you hard prune it now, you will force a lot of new top growth that the tree is trying to avoid making, additionally it will expend a reserve of "resting buds" to do so. Best to wait until next spring to top it again.

By the way, you are extremely unlikely to get a bud to pop in the exact position that is desireable. "Close enough" is all you can expect. When making an initial cut to the top of a new piece of stock, it's best to cut 6 inches ABOVE where you want the final shoot to start. This gives you some more room to work if things don't work exactly as planned.

Chrisl:
Darn!  It's kinda like loosing an entire year's worth of growth, but better that than death.  Thanks for explaining that to me rockm! 

I learned a valuable lesson though, I should've left more of the spring growth in tact for 1.  To incr. trunk diameter better and 2. So I wouldn't be in this predicament.  (I bought it after it had be topped last year while still in the ground accord. to the seller). 

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