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shorty4one3
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USDA Hardiness: 6

new
« on: April 15, 2013, 09:13 PM »

hello everyone! i stumbled upon this site while searching for info on Japanese maples and how to prune them. i'm new to bonsai and this one would be my first if i went this route. i picked up this tree today as an impulse buy because i thought it was a good deal. i purchased it for $35 while looking for tomato plants.should i try to make it into a Japanese maple bonsai? is this a good tree to use? i have read a lot of info on the subject in the past few hours and i think its something i might be able to handle. i don't want to butcher the tree or kill it, but would love to put the effort and time to make it look like a work of art that can be appreciated by my family and friends. comments and suggestions are encouraged, i cant wait to discuss this with everyone on here. thanks for taking the time to read this and here are some quick photos.
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0soyoung
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Posts: 117
USDA Hardiness: 8

« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2013, 09:42 PM »

Fabulous tree!

I have a Higasayama in my yard that is now about 12 feet tall. It is also known as the 'popcorn tree' because the leaves are little yellow balls that unfurl from the red sepals and then fade to their green and white verigated form - look like little cupped hands through most of the season.

It has great attributes for a bonsai, though it does tend to grow long, straight-ish twiggy branches. This will not be a problem in bonsai, however, because of the constant pruning. The only knock against it as bonsai is that variegated leaves generally don't make for the best looking bonsai. Despite its dainty appearance, it is a pretty tough tree.

You will be chopping nearly all of the branches off the nice trunk to make this tree into a bonsai (good bonsai is then about 5 years away). If that is something you are reluctant to do, then plant it in a nice location in your yard and air-layer a few branches for bonsai purposes (bonsai 7 to 10 years away).
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augustine
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Posts: 166
USDA Hardiness: 7A

« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2013, 08:18 AM »

Sure, study up and develop this tree.

It is grafted. Cultivars or varieties are grafted onto some type of hardy rootstock. In the case of Japanese Maples it is usually the common green leaf type grown by seed. The reason for this is that cultivars, like Higasayama, Sango Kaku, Kiyo Hime, etc. will not be a true cultivar if grown by seed, the pollenator is unknown, and sometimes develop faster for the nursery trade (quicker plant to market results in less cost and more revenue). Therefore true cultivars are produced by methods like cuttings and grafting.

This graft is ok though. However you can get cutting grown plants which are considered to be better for bonsai training. Sometimes the junction between rootstock and scion is unattractive or grow at different rates. On the other hand sometimes nicely grafted trees are used.

Not criticizing this tree just trying to offer some info which is relevant to Japanese Maples and other plants that you'll encounter at regular nurseries. Remember that the trunk and roots are the most important elements when starting a  bonsai and good stock has a better chance of a good outcome.

Have at it and enjoy yourself. Welcome to this hobby, art, obsession or sickness as applicable. Also, join a club for best results.

Best,

Augustine
central MD 7a
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augustine
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Posts: 166
USDA Hardiness: 7A

« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2013, 10:30 AM »

Just saw that nobody offerered info as to what to do now. This is what I would do, opinions may very.

First, let the leaves bud out and harden off without any work on the tree. Feed, every 2 weeks, when leaves are hardened off. When the tree really gets going, end of June maybe, and it looks strong you can shorten the branches. Also, it looks like a branch or branches need to be removed at the junction point so that inverse taper will not develop. I cannot advise on this and eventually you may choose just one of those branches as a new leader or you may have to grow a new leader depending. Drastic pruning may not be the best thing this year. Let it get strong and vigorous for future work.

If, after you prune, shoots grow on the lower trunk KEEP THEM. They will thicken the lower trunk. It is important to plan a design for a much shorter tree  like stated in a prior reply.

You have the potential for a decent tree and I like the Higasayama cultivar (I saw a beautiful Higasa. at the Nat'l Arboretum last year). Best to JOIN A CLUB or find a teacher. Good things will happen if you get qualified instruction by either means.

Also, you can prune the roots and repot next year. It will then go into another training container. The rootball may be very dense and hard to work with and you should have help working with the roots. Repot as the buds start to open. Most important at the present is to let the tree acclimate to your yard. When the sun gets stronger a good site is morning sun and afternoon shade. Keep your maple slightly moist at all times but be careful not to overwater which is easy with nursery soil. Stick a bamboo skewer into the soil to gauge moisture. Water when the tree needs it and NOT to a schedule.

Best,

Augustine
central MD 7a
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