Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

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Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  megid on Sun Nov 04, 2012 1:46 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm very new to bonsai and recently started getting into the hobby. I've gotten a few books and have tried to read a lot of articles and forum posts, but I couldn't seem to find the information I was trying to find. I also tried to contact my local bonsai society, but their website is not working. So I hope that somewhere here can give me some direction!

I recently bought this from a local nursery. I tried to look for good nebari and branching. Again, I am very new to this, so I wasn't exactly sure what to look for. I would like to have a thicker trunk eventually and somehow miniaturize it maybe by air-layering. I'm not too sure how the health of the tree is though. I thought that the leaves were due to the winter season, but upon further research, it might be phytophthora. I would really appreciate any help I can get for this tree. I love the red maple and wish to continue with this. I initially bought a juniper "mallsai" and thought it would be a good idea to also start from nursery stock. Please tell me what you guys think!






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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  JimLewis on Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:05 pm

First, there's no phytophthora wilt there. This is fall. You are in Ohio. I'm surprised it even HAS leaves.

Now for the more or less bad news; this tree is a LONG time from becoming a bonsai. You have a lot of work to do over the course of several years. But it is do-able. I'd do nothing much to it this winter, beyond -- if you want -- cutting off the top 1/3 to 1/2 of the tree. You're going to have to do this (or more) anyway, so it doesn't matter when you do it.

Why? Well, for a tree that is this young, it doesn't matter much where the branches are. You'll be starting from scratch. These grow new branches quite easily.

Then, now that there's nothing to up top to make it fall over, cut off that tape that holds it to the stake. Otherwise it will leave a mark. It already looks tight. Of course, you may be chopping the tree below any mark it makes. Eventually.

In early spring, you will need to transfer this to a large (diameter -- maybe 1/2 again the diameter) shallow (6-8 inches) pot filled with good, fast-draining soil. By then you should have made contact with the local club, so let them guide you regarding soil in your location.

Later in the summer you will start a series of trunk chops that will lead to that thicker trunk and will give you more taper in your trunk. Again, it is best of someone local guides you though that process.

Good luck, and have fun. And play with your juniper mallsai while you're waiting to do things to the maple.

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  megid on Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:21 pm

Thank you so much for your advice. I really appreciate the thorough direction! I am definitely willing to wait several years to let this develop into a bonsai, as I feel in the end, it will be that much more rewarding. I just have a few follow up questions. When you say to cut 1/3 to 1/2 of it if I want does that mean you do not recommend to do this during the winter months? I thought that this would be the best time to cut back near it's dormancy period so it does the least amount of damage. Also, when transferring it to a large pot, you mention 1/2 the diameter. Do you mean 1/2 the diameter of the current pot, or a pot that is 1/2 bigger? Again, thank you for all your help; I will try to make contact with my local society as soon as I can.

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  JimLewis on Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:34 pm

When you say to cut 1/3 to 1/2 of it if I want does that mean you do not recommend to do this during the winter months?

It means that is doesn't really matter when you do it, you're just going to have to do it sometime and that could be now. You probably should NOT do it in the spring.

Also, when transferring it to a large pot, you mention 1/2 the diameter. Do you mean 1/2 the diameter of the current pot, or a pot that is 1/2 bigger?

I guess I wasn't clear. I said 1/2 again the diameter, meaning that much larger than the current pot.

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  megid on Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:52 pm

Thank you for your direction. It is very encouraging!

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  drgonzo on Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:35 pm

megid wrote: I would like to have a thicker trunk eventually and somehow miniaturize it maybe by air-layering.

if you want a thicker trunk plant the tree in the ground, nows a great time for that, and walk away. Come back in 4-5 years and allow the tree unrestricted growth. Removing 1/3 to 1/2 of the existing branching will only slow the thickening process. Bloodgood is a very hardy cultivar so put it in the ground somewhere where you can enjoy it as a simple landscape tree for the next few years while you wait.

-Jay

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  John Quinn on Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:51 pm

I think that, over time, as you gain experience and knowledge, you will decide that the nebari is not as desirable as you first thought. As it grows it will become more exagerrated and less attractive. With several years of growth, perhaps in the ground as suggested, you may wish to layer it above the existing surface roots with the goal of having improved radial distribution of roots that are in better proportion to the trunk.

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  megid on Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:49 pm

The problem with me planting in the ground is that I live in an apartment. I probably could plant it on my porch area with other foliage, but I would be moving in a year or so. So I was thinking about planting it in the ground, but again, I don't want to move it around too much.

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  leatherback on Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:06 pm

Plant it in a grow-box then: 4 pieces of timber nailed together in a square 2 feet per side, 1/2 foot high, with boards nailt to the bottom. See http://ofbonsai.org/techniques/propagation/grow-boxes-and-training-pots

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  adam1234 on Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:44 pm

megid wrote:The problem with me planting in the ground is that I live in an apartment. I probably could plant it on my porch area with other foliage, but I would be moving in a year or so. So I was thinking about planting it in the ground, but again, I don't want to move it around too much.

Buy another plant but with a much much bigger trunk, better surface roots, low graft and fairly reasonable branching, you will reduce the amount of time it takes to make a bonsai. Searching for a year in various nurseries is better, in my opinion, than starting with something you do not even know how it will turn out eventually. Investing time, money and effort in sourcing material in the begining will make the hobby more rewarding in the future.

Adam

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  John Quinn on Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:11 pm

http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/nurserys.htm

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  Andrew Legg on Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:34 am

megid wrote:The problem with me planting in the ground is that I live in an apartment. I probably could plant it on my porch area with other foliage, but I would be moving in a year or so. So I was thinking about planting it in the ground, but again, I don't want to move it around too much.

Mate, the bigger the volume of soil it is planted in, the quicker it will grow. Plant it in the biggest thing you can. Width is better than depth as well. Feed it a lot in spring and summer, and with a low nitrogen feed in autumn. You can probably even sneak in a low N feed now before it goes fully dormant. Look for anything like tomato food. I use one which is 10:10:0. This helps to prevent die-back in winter. Your primary goal with this tree for now is to thicken it up as much as possible. How big do you envisage the final tree being?

Cheers,

Andrew

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  abcd on Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:26 pm

Even at the begining, you have to decide the final size of your tree, and for the roots, with air layering it's not realy a problem.
In france , we plant acer in soil or in a big container and we don't move the tree for 8 10 years, then cut the trunk left and right alternately to make it bigger ( clip and grow technic) , no branches, only creating the trunk, and when the trunk is big enough , to grow the tree in pot, we use air layering , for saving time and to have a good nebari .

[img][/img]

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  Andrew Legg on Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:50 pm

abcd wrote:Even at the begining, you have to decide the final size of your tree, and for the roots, with air layering it's not realy a problem.
In france , we plant acer in soil or in a big container and we don't move the tree for 8 10 years, then cut the trunk left and right alternately to make it bigger ( clip and grow technic) , no branches, only creating the trunk, and when the trunk is big enough , to grow the tree in pot, we use air layering , for saving time and to have a good nebari .

Why not do the airlayer a few years earlier to give the good roots time to develop with the trunk?

Cheers,

Andrew


Last edited by Andrew Legg on Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:51 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Delete drawing)

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  megid on Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:07 pm

Reading the article about box size that leatherback linked me to, it states that the box should not be more than a few inches larger than the root dimensions because of water retain and such. But you recommend that I should put it in a big as box as possible? Also, I really want the tree to eventually be around 16" or so in the end, maybe an informal upright.

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  JimLewis on Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:15 pm

I disagree with the "large as possible" grow box. Growing in the ground is vastly different than growing in the box. In the ground, roots can go where they want looking for water and nutrients. Water sinks into the ground, then spreads or keeps on sinking. In a grow box, the roots are contained and so is the water and fertilizer (even with drainage holes), and developing root problems is possible or even likely.

That is why I recommend a pot that is shallow but only slightly larger diameter than its current pot. (Some people even recommend transplanting immediately into a small bonsai pot. But I think that is only for those who have a LOT of experience.)

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  coh on Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:54 pm

Seems to me a logical approach would be to put the tree in a box that is a little larger than the current pot, and then increase the box size over time as the tree grows. Or one could build a larger box and then partition it into a smaller area until the roots colonize the new soil.

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  megid on Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:02 pm

I do like the idea of creating a large box, then creating smaller partitions. That seems like the easiest and best way to do it so you don't have to keep transferring the tree into different pots.

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  coh on Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:09 pm

If you're anything like most of us, before long you'll have lots of trees, so you'll have lots of pots and boxes of various sizes...and you'll need them!

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  leatherback on Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:31 am

JimLewis wrote: (Some people even recommend transplanting immediately into a small bonsai pot. But I think that is only for those who have a LOT of experience.)

Hm.. In order to get a good growth of the trunk, you need serious growth on your foliage. Would putting your tree in a bonsai pot just result in the opposite?

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  Andrew Legg on Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:24 am

JimLewis wrote:I disagree with the "large as possible" grow box. Growing in the ground is vastly different than growing in the box. In the ground, roots can go where they want looking for water and nutrients. Water sinks into the ground, then spreads or keeps on sinking. In a grow box, the roots are contained and so is the water and fertilizer (even with drainage holes), and developing root problems is possible or even likely.

That is why I recommend a pot that is shallow but only slightly larger diameter than its current pot. (Some people even recommend transplanting immediately into a small bonsai pot. But I think that is only for those who have a LOT of experience.)

Jim, will this not be to a large extent a function of the mix and the size. I one were to use a high organic content soil and have it fine in texture, I could understand possible root problems, but if you have a free draining relatively inorganic mix, I can't see why limiting the volume of soil would have any benefit. I don't understand why having contained growing mix should cause a problem.

Regards,

Andrew

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  Guest on Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:01 am

megid wrote:

Please try to 'read' the advice, and forgive the harshness...but, this is not exactly material that I (or any bonsai enthousiast) would use for further bonsai cultivation. I'm sure you will not have spent too much on it, so maybe consider keeping this for ornamental use only, or give it to friends, who preferably have a garden to plant it out into. If you dont have a garden or no acces to any garden for planting it out, please invest a little more money and you surely will be able to satisfy yourself with possibly a prebonsai.

Why i give this advice? its allready been said here, there's a risk of 'great expectations' here and no result/satisfaction, except from the beauty of the leaves. Dont make your porch or balcony look ugly by dropping a large flat wooden box in this little space, and which will grow green and dirty rapidly outside...and only have a plant in there that is not bonsai-material if you keep the roots etc like that. Even if you decide to do something about that, you'll still have a plant that wont thicken enough to look like a bonsai or even prebonsai.

Go bonsaishopping, satisfy your thirst and spend some money and you'll be able to enjoy it more and keep your bonsai enthousiasm instead of losing within a short time...

regards

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  Andrew Legg on Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:02 pm

yves71277 wrote:

Please try to 'read' the advice, and forgive the harshness...but, this is not exactly material that I (or any bonsai enthousiast) would use for further bonsai cultivation. I'm sure you will not have spent too much on it, so maybe consider keeping this for ornamental use only, or give it to friends, who preferably have a garden to plant it out into. If you dont have a garden or no acces to any garden for planting it out, please invest a little more money and you surely will be able to satisfy yourself with possibly a prebonsai.

Why i give this advice? its allready been said here, there's a risk of 'great expectations' here and no result/satisfaction, except from the beauty of the leaves. Dont make your porch or balcony look ugly by dropping a large flat wooden box in this little space, and which will grow green and dirty rapidly outside...and only have a plant in there that is not bonsai-material if you keep the roots etc like that. Even if you decide to do something about that, you'll still have a plant that wont thicken enough to look like a bonsai or even prebonsai.

Go bonsaishopping, satisfy your thirst and spend some money and you'll be able to enjoy it more and keep your bonsai enthousiasm instead of losing within a short time...

regards

Yves,

I disagree. There is material that can be bought that surely can be easier to turn into good bonsai, that is true. This particular tree has very few traits of good bonsai stock, but it does have a bit of trunk girth and air-layering for roots will very quickly put the tree on a path to become a decent bonsai. Sure, not in 3 years or 5, but given time I'm a firm believer that a creative mind with good horticultural abilities can create a very good tree from not much at all.

It seems to me that Megid is keen to learn, and yes, one of his/her first lessons will be that better stock is available, but what better way to force someone to learn and not be lazy than to start them out with a tree like this! One of the things that wasted much of my potential learning time when I was younger in bonsai was that I bought too many decent bonsais and not enough rough stock like this tree. I ended up spending all my time watering nipping, doing a bit of wiring, and the occasional light repotting. It was only when marginal stock forced me to get creative and really roll up my sleeves that I really started to learn.

So, to Megid, I say stick with this tree. If you are willing to put in the time and make the effort you'll be so much more accomplished in 5 years than if you go out and find easier pickings. What you may want to do is get a few easier trees to have as bonsai as this one will take a while before it starts to look like a decent little bonsai. As long as you realise that and don't allow what will no doubt be slow progress to dishearten you, you'll be fine.

Cheers,

Andrew

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  Guest on Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:50 pm

I dont have any problem with anyone disagreeing. I just give my opinion, for what its worth to the poster

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

Post  Andrew Legg on Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:55 pm

yves71277 wrote:I dont have any problem with anyone disagreeing. I just give my opinion, for what its worth to the poster

Wouldn't the world be a boring place if we all agreed on everything! Very Happy These are just our opinions, and of course different people will agree or disagree.

Cheers,

Andrew

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Re: Japanese bloodgood red maple from nursery stock

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