Bonsai Study Group Forum

Species Specific => Japanese Maple Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: s_shizzl on July 16, 2013, 04:39 PM

Title: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: s_shizzl on July 16, 2013, 04:39 PM
First post on this forum, hope I'm not violating any rules...

Anyways I live in a zone 5/6 in the USA, and recently bought a very large Green Japanese Maple. It is about 6 feet tall and with a 5-6" trunk, and has lots of promise. The main trunk has died back, and was left with lots of shoots growing off of the lower trunk, which is perfect for my intentions, however these shoots are now about an inch thick and 4-5 feet long. Obviously I need to cut them back severely. It is also extremely root bound. It is growing in what I can only guess is a 20 gallon pot (~22"x17"), and when I bought it it was rooted into the ground with 3 large roots that had to be cut, so I obviously need to do some cleaning up of the roots as well.

When I first got into bonsai, I was taught to do most major pruning in the beginning of the year on deciduous trees, when the buds first begin to swell, however since I have never worked on something as big (or expensive) as this before, I decided to do some research to find out if doing a major root prune and major cut back up top would be too much and when the best time to root prune is. I am finding conflicting answers, many people say during fall/winter when the tree is dormant, some people say the beginning of summer when it is growing quickly, some say the beginning of spring like I had thought, and some say to NEVER do heavy pruning in the beginning of the spring.

So what should my time scale on this be? Root prune and hack the top back at the same time? And when is best?
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: 0soyoung on July 16, 2013, 06:37 PM

I think these are are facts you must consider in deciding what you are going to do. My own experience is that JMs are very susceptible to dessication.
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: s_shizzl on July 16, 2013, 07:18 PM
Thanks for the reply, I will have to take that into consideration, and I will probably end up doing all of this in the spring.

I wish I could see what my rootball looks like without, well you know, removing it from the pot. I don't *think* it needs an emergency transplantation, but I have only owned it here for a few days so it is hard to say for sure. I have been watching it closely for any sign of wilt after cutting those large roots that escaped the pot at the nursery. My main fear is that the reason the trunk died back was because it was so root bound, but then was able to break a few roots through the bottom of the pot which is what caused the grow back. So now I fear that since we cut the roots that broke out of the pot, it is back to its severely root bound state. If it begins to show any negative signs, I will give it an emergency root pruning this year and then give it some extra winter protection, otherwise I will let it set until next spring when I originally intended to do this.

And like always I will use sealant to help keep pathogens out.
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: s_shizzl on July 16, 2013, 07:20 PM
And I almost forgot:

http://i.imgur.com/fw5pMR2.jpg (http://i.imgur.com/fw5pMR2.jpg)

This is a picture of the tree in its fullness that I took the other day so you can get an idea of what I am dealing with here.

http://i.imgur.com/MDuBTAg.jpg (http://i.imgur.com/MDuBTAg.jpg)

This is a close up of the lower trunk, and branches that I will need to be cutting off/back.
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: Owen Reich on July 16, 2013, 10:19 PM
One of the best times to make a big cut is during a waning / almost new moon in late winter.  Seriously.  About 3-4 weeks before the buds swell.  The key is to balance the amount of roots to the new amount of shoots. (like cut the 20 gallon pot in half).  The tree will be better off for the from the big cut when the conductive tissue of the root system is cut back as the buds swell.  This will keep the tree from "bleeding out" on the operating table.
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: s_shizzl on July 16, 2013, 10:43 PM
Thank you, I'm trying to think time scales in my head, about a month before buds begin to swell is probably beginning-middle of march? Is that about when you were meaning when you said "waning / almost new moon in late winter"?
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: bwaynef on July 17, 2013, 09:19 AM
One of the best times to make a big cut is during a waning / almost new moon in late winter.  Seriously.  About 3-4 weeks before the buds swell.  

What's the moon got to do with it?
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: Owen Reich on July 17, 2013, 12:37 PM
Pull of the moon affects sap flow.  Also, stem elongation, germination rates, flowering, etc.
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: s_shizzl on July 17, 2013, 01:31 PM
Seriously? I find this very hard to believe. The gravitational pull of the moon is about equivalent to holding a dime above your head. And the phase of the moon has nothing to do with how close the moon is to the earth. I might be wrong, but unless you can cite this I am going to have a hard time believing it.
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: Owen Reich on July 17, 2013, 03:35 PM
It does control the tides.....  Read any farmer's almanac, anything by Pliny the Elder, the Chinese, etc.

I'm a very science and proof based person.  Sap flow is higher during a full moon.  Feel free to prove me wrong.  I first heard about it from my Grandfather who is an intense gardener and was skeptical.  Google it.
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: tmmason10 on July 17, 2013, 04:21 PM
It actually kind of does make sense Owen. Besides the fact, being an apprentice at a high profile nursery in Japan should give you some credibility.
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: jlushious on July 17, 2013, 05:09 PM
Did some quick research (interesting article that generally outlines the basics here - http://www.marshallindependent.com/page/content.detail/id/539777/What-does-the-moon-have-to-do-with-it-.html?nav=5073 (http://www.marshallindependent.com/page/content.detail/id/539777/What-does-the-moon-have-to-do-with-it-.html?nav=5073)) and it sounds like the moon phases can impact whether root growth is stimulated or leaf growth.

"Basically, when the moon is increasing in light, the moonlight stimulates leaf growth, and as it decreases, the root is stimulated to grow again."

So acording to this logic, if you do a big chop when the moon is waning, it is in a period when growth is focused on the roots rather than foliage and might be more beneficial in recovery as a result of reduced sap flow (since it is focused on the roots) as Owen mentioned.

At least this is how I understand it, I might be off base as I am just doing some preliminary reading on this.
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: 0soyoung on July 17, 2013, 05:10 PM
It does control the tides.....  Read any farmer's almanac, anything by Pliny the Elder, the Chinese, etc.

I'm a very science and proof based person.  Sap flow is higher during a full moon.  Feel free to prove me wrong.  I first heard about it from my Grandfather who is an intense gardener and was skeptical.  Google it.

A waning moon? What a downer.
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: Gaffer on August 11, 2013, 06:50 PM
It does make sense. Owen is spot on. I have done it in the fall as well and just let the leaves fall off. I live in pacific north west. Quite a nice fall to work around.
Qualicum Brian
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: 0soyoung on August 11, 2013, 08:25 PM
Oh, its a bunch of horse pucky.

The gravitational changes are parts per million. It makes a big difference in the tides because it invoves connected bodies of water the size of the earth.

Check the tides in your glass of water.

Ha ha, Owen! Good one!
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: Owen Reich on August 12, 2013, 02:32 AM
Parts per million of what? I'm not sure why you think this is funny.  I am serious.  I thought this was hokey then I did actual research and fact-checking.  Prove me wrong.

There are a number of horticulture and agricultural research databases and many are free.  I used Agricola among others while at UGA.  John Kirby likely knows of a few others.
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: Adair M on August 12, 2013, 06:51 AM
Owen,

I feel you are probably right about the effects of the moon. Sometimes the "science" gets in the way.

Peter Tea was in town recently, and made an interesting comment on the difference of the way the Japanese approach Bonsai vs us Westerners:  He said the Japanese will do things "just because it works", and not try to figure out "why" it works.  He used as an example fertilizer. He said he was told to fertilize a tree with cottonseed meal. So Peter asked, what's its formula as in NPK?  The reply, "doesn't matter. It's cottonseed meal. It works."

Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: John Kirby on August 12, 2013, 07:04 AM
Interesting Owen. Plants don't have a physical coordinating network, aka nervous system like higher animals, so the reception and transmission of information is accomplished  through an endorcine like mechanism. Look at how plants resond to injury, temperature variation ad change in day length. While I have never personally read anything about microgravational effects on plant growth and seasonal activation, it may be a factor. The impacts of changing light intensity and duration of light exposure in rural areas on seasonal changes also seems interesting. If there weren't so many factors involved, why do you think there is so much variability in the activation of growth among plants of a particular group across the rang of locations you find them in? And it all does not appear to be simply day length or temperature driven.

Adair, understanding why things work is why we live the way we do now, vs 200 years ago. However, I too think we over analyze things that do work. I frequently ask people who bring this up (fertilizer for example), have you exceeded the capacity of the fertilizer to give you the results you need? Frequently the fertilizer s the last thing we need to look at.

John
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: Owen Reich on August 12, 2013, 02:33 PM
John, I think you hit the nail on the head as there are so many factors involved in plant growth over a wide range of locations.  Microclimates are fascinating.   What I'm referring to involves the spin of the earth and moon (+ the sun).  I am not yet convinced about all the astrological influences on fruit size, vegetative growth, etc some biodynamic proponents claim but am not completely against the notion either. 

My teacher said the same about "it just works" too.  We should know why it works.  For example, cottonseed meal has a fairly high nitrogen content (around 6-2-2) and can have nice levels of trace elements depending on the source.  I attempted once or twice to explain why a product used to treat plants worked to my teacher and it did not go well.
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: M. Frary on May 15, 2014, 08:13 AM
  Just came across this thread and would like to add something if I may?
 Almost everything in nature is affected by the moon. The best time to go hunting or fishing is during the major phases.(Full and new) Also most fish and animals mate or spawn during a full or new moon.
  Even people are affected even though we don't feel it. So what Owen is saying makes perfect sense to me.
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: Chrisl on May 15, 2014, 11:05 AM
Interesting thread.  This is one of those "well who knew" moments lol  Owen, I've only used cottonseed in cakes.  How do the japanese use it?  Is it something that gums up the surface?
Title: Re: Best time to do major hack work on large japanese maple
Post by: Owen Reich on May 15, 2014, 11:29 AM
I've used it before loose and it's messy.  I'd use tea bags pinned to the media with toothpicks.  It works wonders for boxwoods. 

I re-read what John K posted earlier about regional variations in plant growth and it could be a magnetic influence.  This being from underground and not the moon.  The Taoists believe that presence of cats in certain places denote bad chi.  This is likely caused by geopathic stress.  Again, I'm serious. 

There are a lot of other variables at play in anything involving Nature, but this is one factor that could influence discrepancies in growth.  Some plants like geopathic stress and others don't. 

Did you cut the maple yet?