Japanese Red Maple - Asking for Design/Progression Advice

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Japanese Red Maple - Asking for Design/Progression Advice

Post  Kiyalynn on Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:00 pm

I was hoping I could get some advice for my little Japanese Maple. This is the bottom half of the tree, the top portion was successfully air-layerd off this year. In working with the air layer I let the bottom half of the tree grow freely with no trimming. I know the trunk still needs to grow more, using a measuring tape I measured the lowest part of the trunk at 2.8 Inches (at the beginning of the summer it measured at just under 2in). I'm not looking to make this a huge Bonsai but rather a Shohin. (I estimate the tree In the design I'm hoping to achieve will be about 9-12 in tall). I'm keeping the tree in a large pot as my ground soil poor for growing and planting in, I understand this makes trunk growth slower. As there is a lot of extra branches on this tree, and most of them seam to be in poor position I was pondering removing most of the branches while the tree is Dormant in order to get new branches to adjust for the future design.

I took some pictures today of my tree against the white siding of my house with a yard stick, I hope they are good enough for you to get a good view. Please tell me If you need additional views or a different set up.








After spending much time browsing bonsai pictures; I found one, that I would like to lean my tree towards. I picked this design as my tree already has curves similar. While I do not hope to match it exactly I hope I can achieve a similar look. (In the future I hope to fully design my own trees but as this is my first bonsai I thought a plan would help greatly)


In my tree I think key points of it are the sharp curve low and the gentle curve/slope just above that. I would like to show off both of them but also slightly accent the gentle curve. The gentler curve ends at about 7 in from the rim of the pot, tho the tree has 2-3 more inches after that. I'm planning on cutting off those extra 2-3 inches and get a new trunk lead at that point, witch I can then angle more appropriately. As the tree is currently overgrown with many close together branches I've been thinking I need to thin most/all of them out in order to get new shoots that will follow the design idea. The one branch I plan to leave is the very long branch close to the bottom of the tree, I think it is making the trunk bulge below it interestingly and plan to let it continue to do so for another year, before removing it aswell.

Questions:
Approximately, How thick of a trunk will be appropriate for this tree?
Should I move the tree out of the nursery pot into a slightly larger pot next year?
Will I be able to achieve a similar look as the design picture or should I try for something different?
Should I remove most of the branches, only a few, or let the tree continue to grow freely for another year?
Can I use a Branch bender to accent/deepen the gentle curve in the trunk? If not, how could I do so?
I've noticed this year that the tree does not tend to bud on the outer side of sharp curve, How do I encourage it to bud there in order to get a lower branch in that direction?
As the trunk still needs to thicken should I remove most of the branches or leave most/some of them in order to thicken the trunk?


Kiyalynn
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Re: Japanese Red Maple - Asking for Design/Progression Advice

Post  JimLewis on Tue Sep 04, 2012 5:33 pm

That's a doable design, but it will take at least 10 years of wiring, pinching and pruning.

How thick of a trunk will be appropriate for this tree?

That depends on how large (tall) you want it to be. The tree you want to model it after has a fairly slim trunk, so you don't need to fatten too much -- depending on the ultimate size you want. Your biggest issue is going to be developing some taper in the trunk. That will mean series of trunk chops and guiding a side branch to become the new leader. Again, that is a several-year-long activity.

Should I move the tree out of the nursery pot into a slightly larger pot next year?

Yes. And a shallower pot, filled with bonsai soil.

Will I be able to achieve a similar look as the design picture or should I try for something different?

If you are patient, yes.

Should I remove most of the branches, only a few, or let the tree continue to grow freely for another year?

Let it grow. Decide where to do a trunk chop and which of the branches will become the new leader. Then let it be for another year and select a new future leader and chop again . . . and again.

Meanwhile, read, read, read. Get Peter Adams' book on Japanese maples and study it.

Have fun.


_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Japanese Red Maple - Asking for Design/Progression Advice

Post  Vega77 on Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:51 am

Hi man, yes, it seems to be achievable end goal, but you're going to have patience.

To help speed up the tree growth, I suggest planting it in the ground, with the roots planted/tied flush against a tile.
The hole should be about 40-60cm deep and obvioulsy wider than the tile you are using. Also fill the hole with good quality compost,
bonsai/gritty soil mix. This type of planting will benefit you in 2 ways; 1 - you will get very rapid growth after the roots settle in, and 2 -
planting on the tile will force the roots to grow outwards, increasing basal flare, giving you a decent nebari and as a consequence will give
your tree some taper.

I also sugges that you prune back this tree quite hard to force it to back bud lower down, further increasing trunk thickening.

And I also recommend Peter Adams maple book ... a must have.

Vega77
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Re: Japanese Red Maple - Asking for Design/Progression Advice

Post  cbobgo on Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:47 pm

generally, when we talk about the size of the base of a tree, we are talking about diameter, not circumference. Your diameter is currently less than 1 inch. You need to let this grow quite a bit fatter, and then you will need to do a fairly low trunk chop to get more movement in the trunk, which is currently pretty strait.

- bob

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Re: Japanese Red Maple - Asking for Design/Progression Advice

Post  Kiyalynn on Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:03 pm

Bob - I wanted to thank you for clearing that up. Every site I've seen that talks about how thick trunks should be just state inches, no one ever says whether they are measuring diameter or circumference; so I've kinda just been guessing.

Vega- As for planting the tree in the yard, My yard has too many roots close to the surface from the packed in trees my mother-in-law planted 20 years ago (How she ever thought they would look good that close together; I'll never know). That problem, will also mean I'll have to dig the roots of the tree I'm trying to grow out from around those same roots when I try to get it back out... I'm not sure how to deal with that. I'm also not certain, but I think the roots of trees around here tend to be closer to the surface because we live right on top of a old coal mine. As I stated above too the soil quality is poor and everything I've planted in the yard has died or is struggling for life, even the native birches, and maples. The pots seam to be working better; I know it will take alot longer to grow the trunk size in a pot, but it sounds like it is possible.

Jim- Thanks for your advice, I'll keep it in mind.

Also, Thanks for the book suggestion it looks like a good one, I hope to get it soon. The only Book I've bought so far is Successful Bonsai by David Squire, Tho it leans more towards indoor bonsai than I thought it would when I bought it.

Kiyalynn
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Re: Japanese Red Maple - Asking for Design/Progression Advice

Post  Vega77 on Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:12 am

What I've done is build a wooden box for my maples instead of putting all of them in the ground.
The box is wider than it is deep so I could still plant it on a tile to attain a decent nebari.

In all honesty, I would seriously think about trunk chopping your tree quite low down. This will get the tree to back bud
close to the botton, thus increasing the girth and also, you can introduce some movement with a new leader.

Vega77
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Re: Japanese Red Maple - Asking for Design/Progression Advice

Post  JimLewis on Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:50 am

s for planting the tree in the yard, My yard has too many roots close to the surface from the packed in trees my mother-in-law planted 20 years ago (How she ever thought they would look good that close together; I'll never know). That problem, will also mean I'll have to dig the roots of the tree I'm trying to grow out from around those same roots when I try to get it back out... I'm not sure how to deal with that.

Consider a grow box, or better if you can find the room, a raised bed. But the only way you will get a decent bonsai here is to late it grow and chop, grow, chop, grow . . . choosing a branch for the new leader every time.

Bonsai is a game of time -- and patience.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Japanese Red Maple - Asking for Design/Progression Advice

Post  Poink88 on Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:13 am

JimLewis wrote:Consider a grow box, or better if you can find the room, a raised bed. But the only way you will get a decent bonsai here is to late it grow and chop, grow, chop, grow . . . choosing a branch for the new leader every time.

Bonsai is a game of time -- and patience.
This ^ ^ ^...OR...start with a bigger and better stock, then you might bypass the first few grow & chop iteration. Wink

Acquiring better stock can be by money or effort. Bought are basically exchanged for time you saved getting the tree where it is now.

Regarding grow box, raised bed, etc. You can actually use your existing pot and not need any of those. Just replant the tree with a tile as described above in your pot...arranging the roots well as you can then make bigger holes at the pot bottom (or remove it all together) and find a place in your yard to put it on & grow. (you can also bury the pot a tad bit if you wish). The roots will "escape" to the ground providing you the effect you want but don't have to deal with the digging later. Once your tree reach the desired size and shape...just chop the entire pot at the bottom. If you want to be safer, you can also break the pot the year before the planned collection and encourage higher new root growth by "air layering" the bigger roots. Just apply tourniquet on each and you will encourage root growth above. The smaller roots can be chopped shorter to encourage growth near the base too. Put a new pot around (or wrap with heavy plastic) and let grow for a year then collect.

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Re: Japanese Red Maple - Asking for Design/Progression Advice

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