Species Specific > Japanese Maple Bonsai Discussion

Sangu Kaku

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This topic is in response to a previous post inquiring as to the merits of sangu kaku as bonsai.  Hopefully it sheds light on several of the issues raised in the previous post.  

Before I knew much about bonsai, I started this sangu kaku from nursery stock 15 years ago, as I was attracted to the pink bark and light green foliage.  I have been pleased with the tree's development.  Overall, this sangu kaku has responded well to shaping, and internode length is average, compared to other japanese maple.  The tree is 20" tall, seen here in summer color in a 16" pot.

What I have come to understand, from personal experience with this particular tree:

1. Pink bark is present on young shoots, the color fades to light yellow, light green and ultimately grey with age.  The natural habit of branches is upward growing, but branches can be easily brought to more gentle upward going to horizontal as desired.
2. Spring foliage is pink tinged, but in general light yellow/green.  Summer foliage darkens a bit, yet still light green (lighter than most other japanese maple).  I would not consider sangu kaku a red cultivar.  Growth behavior is similar to other japanese maple.
3. Fall color ranges from light pink, light orange and ends in brilliant yellow (based on weather conditions).
4. Easily air-layered.  The second trunk is a layer from the larger.  This was my first layer, and was done when I had limited personal experience.  
5. Nebari behave similar to other japanese maple, and can be encouraged to spread with a shallow pot.

These images illustrate several of the above points.

Overall, sangu kaku has been a reasonable, if not favorable choice for me to establish a nice japanese maple bonsai.  The only reservation I would have is stock, somewhat hard to find.  Most commonly found in a garden center for landscape, and many of these are grafts.  Grafts of japanese maple in general terms can complicated development of nebari and trunk base.  In retrospect, I was lucky to find this tree on it's own roots.  If grafted garden center stock is the only option, several of the upper branches could be layered for a nice grouping, and the base could be layered above the graft.

 **hot-linked images removed**

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This maple is just gorgeous.



Thanks for your kind words ... As always there are things to do in the way of development, improvement, etc.  Taking, reviewing and posting pictures seems to bring this out.  With this tree began my interest in bonsai, and an appreciation of japanese maples.  Fun and rewarding trees.

Best wishes, Josh

I will apologize now, if I am asking an obvious questions, but I am very new to bonsai.  How big (Trunk diameter and overall height) was the tree when you purchased it as nursery stock?  What part of the country are you in, that you could find this in a nursery store?  Finally, how many years from nursery pot to training pot to bonsai pot?  Thanks.  I think your tree is graceful and beautiful.


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