Advice on an Acer Palmatum

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Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  Mr. Carter on Sat Jun 16, 2012 8:43 pm

Well, tomorrow will be my first Father's Day, where I'm actually a father. So my Dad got me a gift...He got me this Japanese Maple.


Sorry for the picture quality, all i had was my phone. Here's some more pictures.

Most likely the front


The base


The left side


The right side


Better views of the dead wood



Leaves


So, it doesn't look like it's dying, but it also doesn't look like it's in tip top shape either, so my plan as of right now is to get it out of the pot, into a raised bed, and make sure it's watered and fertilized properly until it's back healthy. Moving on to a few questions, first, looking at the leaves, does anyone know what could be causing the discolored foliage, burnt/curled tips? Also, is there any guess on a cultivar?

Next, so once this guy is healthy and vigorous, i plan on chopping him down substantially.

Something like this


The red line was my first idea of where to chop, but then I wasn't too sure about chopping through that dead wood like that, (any advice on this would be awesome), so the light blue line was my second thought of where to chop, which would probably create a shorter more powerful looking tree, with better movement (praying for a new bud to pop on the left hand side of the tree).
So does anyone have any suggestions on when would be the best time to chop this guy? It might be healthier than I think and be able to handle a trunk chop now, but this is my first real project, so I don"t want to mess it up.
What would any of you recommend my first step be?
The lower, chunky right hand branch doesn't contribute to the design I have in mind, and is definitely coming off. So should i cut it now, or wait til next year, or should I just go ahead and do my trunk chop and lose the branch now?

Sorry for the overload of questions, but like I was saying earlier, this is my first REAL project and I'd like to do things right. Any comments, critiques, advice, ideas, virts... or ANYTHING is more than welcome over here. I appreciate all the help and inspiration.




Last edited by Mr. Carter on Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:02 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  Mr. Carter on Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:45 pm

Oh dang. I probably should if posted this in the Bonsai Questions Forum. Sorry.

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Re: Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  fiona on Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:58 pm

Ta Da!!! Moved by magic.


That looks like it has some good potential. Remember to post some updates when you do the first bits of work. Good luck.

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Re: Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  0soyoung on Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:42 am

Leaf coloration is normal for Shaina, but I cannot be sure that is the cultivar you have from these pictures. Several cultivars have this leaf coloration - regardless, it will become greener as the season progress until fall when it will change again.

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Re: Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  Mr. Carter on Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:53 pm

No advice yet? Well I have another question too. Does anyone think it would be worth it to try and air layer where I plan on chopping? There's a lot of tree up there, an I'd hate to just waste it.

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Re: Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  Marty Weiser on Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:03 pm

I would airlyer above the dead zone. If you airlayer in the dead zone you will have dead wood in contact with the ground and it will rot. of course, maybe you want to give the image of a old hollow trunk. I have one maple with a large shari on one side that is slowly developing in this image.

Most maple bonsai do not have much jin or shari since maples tend to grow in moist areas where it will rot quickly. Therefore, you are probably better off to make the low cut and try to callous over the wound. It will take a long time, but may make convincing image. On the other hand perhaps the rotted trunk image is the best approach.

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Re: Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  drgonzo on Sun Jun 17, 2012 7:02 pm

I would also advise you to think about an air layer.

if you chop the tree at the blue line at least leave that low side branch which (hopefully) contains the genetics for the cultivar scion (and could become a leader if need be) Its hard to see it from the photo. If you remove it, there may not be a dormant internode from the scion left above the graft and you will simply get growth off the rootstock, which no doubt is regular A. Palmatum....Nothing wrong with that, but it would be nice to try and work with the prettier Shaina foliage. Unless by some miracle its on its own roots but thats unlikely.

If you chop at the red line the tree will probably die back to that low branch, as half the trunk is dead wood and scar tissue neither of which will break a bud for you.

Ultimately I would advise you to wait, get to know the tree, establish vigor, and you may find there are some lovely potential for air layers in the top branches rather then taking a chance with the trunk (you can play with the trunk later once you get your layers off anyway)

Just my thoughts.
-Jay

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Re: Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  Mr. Carter on Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:18 pm

Thanks alot. I was hoping some of the maple masters would chime in. I studied this tree and I couldn't find a graft mark. I'll try to get some better pictures up tonight. I feel almost positive that it's not grafted. So hopefully with better pictures you guys can let me know what you think. Also, the leaves that are in that picture are the ones on that lower thick branch, so that mean if it us a graft, then that branch contains the genetics right?

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Re: Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  drgonzo on Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:23 am

Mr. Carter wrote: I studied this tree and I couldn't find a graft mark. I feel almost positive that it's not grafted.

With a well done graft that has had say 5-10 or so years to "grow in" a graft mark or scar will be almost gone and the way you find the graft union is more by feel. Run your fingers up from the surface roots, as you move up you will "feel" a little bulge in the trunk, that was the graft union. On some cultivars the rootstock and scion have very different bark colors and it becomes painfully obvious. I think I can see the bulge in your photo, luckily that graft was done way down low and looks pretty good. Grafted Maples are not taboo in Bonsai and are quite common, the trick is to find one where the graft isn't really noticeable or a distraction and find one done with a correct matching of rootstock vigor with scion vigor.

Your tree may be on its own roots but that would be unusual in the nursery trade. Cutting grown specialty Maple cultivars are rare and there are only a select few specialty nurseries that offer them. Very Very few would be grown out to this size.
-Jay

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Re: Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  Mr. Carter on Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:36 am

I do appreciate you taking the time to comment. The battery on my camera was dead, so I really couldn't get any better pictures than the ones I already put up. I'll get some better ones soon though. I checked out the trunk again, and I think I see what you're talking about. the picture that i labeled as "the base", you can see a dimple in the trunk and right above that, a bulge. I think I can live with it though. So with all that being said, when the time comes, I could still chop on my blue line and that large lower branch would still be underneath the chop. I was kinda hoping that I would get a bud on the exact opposite side of that branch though, so I'd have to change my plan for the tree. So I'm sure that I'll need help with a design when I get to it. Thanks again.

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Re: Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  drgonzo on Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:54 am

Mr. Carter wrote:I I think I can live with it though.

Its a good graft and good match for bark color too...nothing to be ashamed of with this tree at all!
-Jay

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. Re: Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  0soyoung on Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:36 am

I've yet to see an acer palmatum graft that improves with age - almost inevitably the difference between the root stock and the cultivar worsens with age. Most frequently the root stock winds up larger than the cultivar's trunk and more often there is a distinct difference in bark texture. If you don't see either of these features on your tree (I cannot discern them to exist in your photos) then it is almost certainly on its own roots or it such an incredibly perfect graft that it doesn't matter for bonsai purposes.

I guess that your tree set neglected/ignored in a field. Without adequate water and/or wind exposure, the exposed parts of the tree that dehydrate will die, but the tree can stay alive. If it subsequently gets better care, it can recover - I think this is how your tree got the exposed wood. This might close if you grow the tree in its current form for 5 years or so. You might want to do this if it were a rare cultivar, but I seriously doubt that you want to do anything other than get on the road to making one (or more) bonsai.

Were your tree mine, I would at least air layer the top above the exposed wood. This likely can be done now and be harvestable so that you have it hardened on its own roots before this coming winter. Then, early next spring I would chop off the exposed wood portion of the trunk from the 'old roots' and start working it toward your desired bonsai design. However, you have a lot of tree (up top) that you may be able to make into serveral trees taking several air layers at the same time, then you could have the makings of a group planting in short order, if you want. Else you would just have serveral trees to have fun with, starting next year, in whatever way you wish - all of them on their own roots.

Auxin and sugars from the leaves are what drive root creation/growth, so you can air-layer any chunk of the tree that has enough foliage. Several branches can be air-layered at the same time. One can even take a series of layers along the length of a branch/trunk as long as there is enough filiage to create roots at the girdle below them (the recipe is that if it works, you had enough foliage above the girdle - otherwise, it maybe wasn't enough). The last thing to note is that the adventitious buds in JM's are concentrated in the nodes. This is where you will likely get new branches. Also, some believe that air-layers are best placed immediately below a node. This is my practice, but I'm not yet convinced that it makes any difference for growing new roots.

This is my 'maple expert' advice.

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Re: Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  drgonzo on Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:06 am

0soyoung wrote:If you don't see either of these features on your tree (I cannot discern them to exist in your photos) then it is almost certainly on its own roots

How about the healed 'dimple' left over from the removal of the top of the rootstock after the veneer graft took?
-Jay

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Re: Advice on an Acer Palmatum

Post  Mr. Carter on Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:27 pm

I'm going to have a go at air layering this tree. Looking at it, I can see at least four places where I could try to layer. I expected that this tree was kinda expensive, nut my dad told me how much he paid for it...free! He bought a holly, a buxus, and a loropetalum from a friend of his, and he threw the maple in for free. He said no one else would want it. All in all he spent 60 bucks for the four trees!

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