Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

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Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  wendolen on Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:24 pm

Hello all,

Having caught the bonsai bug, I am looking with new eyes at this Japanese maple I bought last summer and have yet to put in the ground. I'm new to inserting pictures, so forgive me if these go wrong...








I have become rather partial to the graceful first branch on the right in the first picture, though that was before I learned about wiring, so it's probably not as crucial to keep it as I was initially thinking. My intuition is to cut it here (and try to root the material that I cut off, because why not?), and go from there. Thoughts?


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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  Patrick_G on Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:56 pm

Looks like there's a pretty obvious graft there, I don't know if this is the best material.

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  appalachianOwl on Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:54 pm

you could air layer at the mark you've made, or perhaps a bit lower to get that bit of motion in the trunk, thus eliminateing the graft unioin. Lots to work with depending on what you're going for.



neat little one

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  sunip on Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:22 pm

Hello,
Can you show us a detail picture of this area maybe without the container? (do not disturb the rootbal)
It will be easier to say something about a graft on an other rootstock and about the condition of the root spread (the nerbari).
Sunip Wink

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  Just Mike on Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:49 pm

appalachianOwl wrote:you could air layer at the mark you've made, or perhaps a bit lower to get that bit of motion in the trunk, thus eliminateing the graft unioin. Lots to work with depending on what you're going for.



neat little one

sorry to disagree, but this isnt usually a very good idea with grafted maples...the reason being, that the variety gafted on to the rootstock is usually not able to support itself...this is part of the reason it is grafted...you MIGHT be able to pull off a successfull air-layer, only to find out that it dies a few years later because it cannot develop a root system that can sustain itself...

unfortunately, when it comes to grafted acers, you are kind of stuck with it...and usually the graft is too high and ugly to be of much use in bonsai...the only thing you can really do is to graft it again at a lower spot closer to the roots, and with a cleaner graft, and then perform a chop once the grafted part has show significant growth...of course, by this time you probably could have started one by seed...

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  Just Mike on Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:59 pm

a closer picture of that area where the first branch is coming off (the elegant one) would be very helpfull...

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  appalachianOwl on Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:03 am

ha, good stuff to know, learn new sumthin every day. thanks for correction mike. yes close up picture must we see...

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  wendolen on Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:21 am

Unfortunately, I snapped those pictures and posted them just as I was out the door for a brief trip out of town. I'll be home Sunday evening, so I should get a chance to take more pictures Monday morning (PST), most likely.

In the meantime, could anybody link me to a quick tutorial on air grafting as it relates to maples and bonsai? I googled around a bit and I see that it's done in all sorts of contexts (google really wanted me to know about air layering marijuana), so I had trouble filtering out the irrelevant info, especially while doing it on my phone. Laughing

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  leatherback on Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:06 am

Hm.. Everybody seems to think you need a new graft. Would it not be quicker to create a new ring of roots, using an airlayer just below the current graft? The roots form just below the union point, and with time the graft blend in with the rootline.

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  RKatzin on Fri Jan 18, 2013 1:31 pm

I would suggest that you go ahead and plant this in your yard and get a maple that is better suited to bonsai. Just judging by what I can see, The innner nods are very long and the old leaf looks large.

What type of maple is this? Rick

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  Just Mike on Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:50 pm

leatherback wrote:Hm.. Everybody seems to think you need a new graft. Would it not be quicker to create a new ring of roots, using an airlayer just below the current graft? The roots form just below the union point, and with time the graft blend in with the rootline.

this is an option too...

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  Just Mike on Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:57 pm

wendolen wrote:Unfortunately, I snapped those pictures and posted them just as I was out the door for a brief trip out of town. I'll be home Sunday evening, so I should get a chance to take more pictures Monday morning (PST), most likely.

In the meantime, could anybody link me to a quick tutorial on air grafting as it relates to maples and bonsai? I googled around a bit and I see that it's done in all sorts of contexts (google really wanted me to know about air layering marijuana), so I had trouble filtering out the irrelevant info, especially while doing it on my phone. Laughing

i can help you find a link to whatever you would like...but i need to know what i am looking for...do you want links to grafting or layering? or both? there are different types of grafts, and different types of layers, all with upsides and downsides and best suited for certain situations...

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  Just Mike on Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:00 pm

RKatzin wrote:I would suggest that you go ahead and plant this in your yard and get a maple that is better suited to bonsai. Just judging by what I can see, The innner nods are very long and the old leaf looks large.

What type of maple is this? Rick

this is a very important point that people often forget about or dont know about...

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  RKatzin on Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:11 pm

Just Mike wrote:
Katzin wrote:I would suggest that you go ahead and plant this in your yard and get a maple that is better suited to bonsai. Just judging by what I can see, The inner nods are very long and the old leaf looks large.

What type of maple is this? Rick

this is a very important point that people often forget about or don't know about...
Hi, I have worked with quite a few maples with big leaves. You have to think big and that means planting out for several years to get some size to work with and go for something 3' or taller.

Something more like a patio tree is more do-able with the big leaf varieties, five or six feet. Then the amount the leaves can be reduced is within reason. All the same techniques can be applied, just on a bigger scale.

Really would like to know the type of maple. Many of the hybrids, especially the frilly lace-leaf ones do not take kindly to pruning and chopping, and do not survive well when airlayered from the parent tree. On a larger scale a nice 'sea of green' effect is achieved with a few leaves, but to isolate branches and form foliage clouds you need a pretty good size tree to get a believable composition.

I retain one Acer macrocarpa, yeah, Big-leaf Maple, one of our native species here in Oregon. I love its old gnarled trunk, but I hold no hopes of ever making a presentable bonsai, did once I must admit. Good learning experience, that I now apply to trees worth their merit and my time invested.

Sometimes you just have to be honest with yourself, after several years invested into a tree, and just admit the obvious and do the right thing. Been there, done that with the big leafers! Geeze! There's so many good maples to choose from! Rick

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  wendolen on Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:27 pm

I would suggest that you go ahead and plant this in your yard and get a maple that is better suited to bonsai. Just judging by what I can see, The innner nods are very long and the old leaf looks large.

What type of maple is this? Rick

The varietal is 'Koto buki'. The plant is bare right now; what you might be seeing is a yellowed kale leaf in the background. When it is in leaf, the leaves are quite delicate.

wendolen wrote:
... air grafting ...

i can help you find a link to whatever you would like...but i need to know what i am looking for...do you want links to grafting or layering? or both?

Oh good Lord... I was falling asleep at the computer. Embarassed I meant to type air layering. My parents grew up in apple orchards, so I know at least the theory of grafting, I think, though I have no applied experience with it.


Last edited by wendolen on Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:31 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : to fix nested quote tags)

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  Just Mike on Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:21 pm

start here http://bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATLayering.html

but, just as a warning, i doubt that it would survive if air-layered...rick is right on the money with this one...

when a person first begins bonsai, the tendancy is to try to bonsai anything and everything...then a few years go by and maybe you have a couple that have potential, but you find out that the majority just arent suitable for whatever reason...i personally encourage this so-called "waste of time" habit because i think the first thing a person should learn is horticultural practices before even worrying about styling or anythign like that...it also helps train your eye as to what is good material and what isnt...the sad reality is that on your quest of learning you will end up killing a bunch of trees anyway, so its probably best to butcher something that never had much potential anyway...we have all been there...we have all done that...some of us longer than others lol...and we all have a tree or 2 that we know for a fact will never be anywhere close to a nice bonsai, but we keep them anyway and just dont post the pictures on the internet...

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  RKatzin on Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:06 pm

Hi, I had to do some digging to find info on this one, primarily because it is so new that it is still an uncommon variety. I found it under 'Cultivars not yet assessed' under its aka, 'Murasaki shikibu'

An interesting cultivar if you're into the varigated varieties. A very pretty tree I'm sure, with small to medium leaf depending on each tree ect. This is a more upright version of 'Asahi zuru' so it's going to want to leg out a bit more. I have found if I back the nitrogen off I don't get so much leggy growth, but for trunk development I let them have it and let them rip for a few years. I'd say this tree is in the medium desireable catagory for bonsai stock, not too bad.

So, very interesting! You've got some things to consider. You have a graft and you don't know how this girl will airlayer. I would try an airlayer of a small piece and grow that for at least a few years to see how it does.

You need to get some size on and the best way is in the ground, second best is a good gro-box, a nursery pot being the least favorable. Maples are a bit tricky in an inorganic mix, you really have to watch your water. I run about 60/40, organic to inorganic matter and for our hot dry summers that's minimal on the organic.

Maples were my first fasinaction and I'm about ten years in on my exploration of the species. I still not not have one committed to bonsai training. I did, but I backed them all out upon realizing they were not ready. They are now in the garden or groboxs. In fact, I took almost everything out of their traing pots. In the future I'm sure to refer to this as my 'Drop back and punt' phase, which was proceeded by the 'slam dunk bonsai' phase and the 'bada bing a bonsai' phase. We're makin' progress here pilgrams. Those of you who had teachers skipped over all that I'm certain. Sincerly Rick

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  Just Mike on Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:13 pm

i wonder if you could root graft...i also wonder if it is worth the trouble...but for experience alone, it might be fun to try...

get like 7 or so and approach graft them around where you want the base to be...basically grafting a nebari...ive never done this, but in theory it seems like it would work...ive seen it done on maples before, but not on a grafted variety...

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  wendolen on Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:47 pm

Just Mike wrote:i wonder if you could root graft...i also wonder if it is worth the trouble...but for experience alone, it might be fun to try...

get like 7 or so and approach graft them around where you want the base to be...basically grafting a nebari...ive never done this, but in theory it seems like it would work...ive seen it done on maples before, but not on a grafted variety...

Do you mean obtain a different piece of rootstock and graft a piece of this 'Koto buki' onto it? Or... grasping at straws here... basically getting sections of root and trying to create attractive "nebari" above the existing ugly graft?

After reading the posts this morning I had a period of discouraged "OK, fine!" where I tried to remember what I was planning for this tree before the bonsai idea struck, and I remembered that it was to plant it in one of the only semi-shady spots available, which is currently inhabited by an ugly azalea, neglected by the previous owners. I have no fondness for azaleas at all, so last fall I was trying to pawn this azalea off on everyone I knew, but I couldn't find any takers. So this morning I had the inspiration to pull it out, put the maple in (incidentally either air layering a branch or trying to root a cutting at pruning time, because why not), and then taking the azalea, chopping it way back, and using it as one of my initial bonsai subjects. As a project, that probably deserves a forum thread of its own, but... plausible? Or should I go ahead with the maple? Or should I wait until I get home to take the pics requested upthread and see what people have to say then? confused

Oh, and, so I'm prepared: are azaleas a species that are often grafted onto rootstock for hardiness? I assume no, but... honestly I have no idea what people do with the things. (Hopefully working with one will teach me fondness for it. Either that or I won't be sad if I kill it.)

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  Just Mike on Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:51 am

i mean approach grafting saplings above the graft...kinda like this

http://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATApproachGraftingRootsProgression.html

except you would be replacing the entire root stock...basically, grafting the lower part of the "trunks" on the sapplings so that when you remove the tops in a few years, the "trunks" will be acting (and look) like roots...

does that make sense or did i just confuse everyone more??

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  wendolen on Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:30 am

Just Mike wrote:i mean approach grafting saplings above the graft...kinda like this

http://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATApproachGraftingRootsProgression.html

except you would be replacing the entire root stock...basically, grafting the lower part of the "trunks" on the sapplings so that when you remove the tops in a few years, the "trunks" will be acting (and look) like roots...

does that make sense or did i just confuse everyone more??

I think I follow... if I were to try that, would I apply the grafts and then plant the tree a few inches deeper than it currently is, so the grafts would be more-or-less at ground level?

I think this might be a liiiitle more advanced than I should really be taking on, but I dove right in and root-pruned that dwarf lilac already, so that doesn't mean it'll stop me. Wink

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  Just Mike on Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:13 am

if it where me, i wouldnt transplant the parent tree...i would have my seedlings in small containers (like those plastic red picnic cups with drainage holes cut out, for example)...you want the parent tree (and the seedlings) to be growing as strong as possible, so i would avoid transplanting...

this kind of graft should actually be one of the easiest and most successfull since both the host and donor have a root system to feed themselves as the graft union is healing...


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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  Just Mike on Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:17 am

here is another article on approach grafting that has some nice pictures that might be helpfull...

http://www.bonsaisolutions.com.au/advanced_techniques/approach_grafting_for_bonsai.html

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  wendolen on Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:54 am

Just Mike wrote:if it where me, i wouldnt transplant the parent tree...i would have my seedlings in small containers (like those plastic red picnic cups with drainage holes cut out, for example)...you want the parent tree (and the seedlings) to be growing as strong as possible, so i would avoid transplanting...

this kind of graft should actually be one of the easiest and most successfull since both the host and donor have a root system to feed themselves as the graft union is healing...


What seedlings are we talking about? Should I wait for it to flower and collect the samaras?

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

Post  Just Mike on Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:22 pm

ok...lets back it up a bit and go over some things so you can have a good grasp on what is going on with this tree and some of your options...

so, what you have is a grafted acer palmatum...the grafts that are usually found in nursery trees such as this present several problems when it comes to bonsai culture...they are always too high on the trunk, usually the graft union is kinda messy and comes with a big scar, etc, etc...

so why graft? well, it basically comes down to this...to get the best of 2 worlds...the foliage (in this case) of one, but the root system of another...this is something we also do in bonsai as in the case of grafting shimpaku foliage to san jose juniper stock, or japanese white pine to a japanese black pine root stock...the reasons are slightly different, but basically the same...in bonsai we also graft for other reasons not seen in the nursery business, such as "i need a branch right here"...there are also varieties common in bonsai that are grafted for their characteristics...again, you can find this in japanese black and white pine varieties...now, in the case of white pine to black pine root stock, this is usually done because black pine is a much much stronger grower than white pine...so in essence, by grafting white pine to black pine, you are "super-charging" the white pine since the black pine root stock will be feeding it...this greatly increases the growth rate and vigor. not to mention, pines are hard to impossible, and certainly not practical to propagate through cuttings...this is the same case with acers...

nod your head if your still with me...

seed isnt reliable as far as charcteristics are concerned, and come with A LOT of variation, so just because the seed came off of a 'koto buki' doesnt mean it will look anything like the parent plant...when trying to get the exact genetics of a certain variety, it has to come from the parent tree...so you can either air-layer, which is an awesome and often used technique, but in the nursery business its not time or cost effective in the least...not to mention, often times the variety trying to be reproduced has weak growth habbits and might not be able to sustain itself with its own root system anyway...or, you can take cuttings...this would give the exact genetics of the parent tree, but doesnt solve the problem of the weak growth habbit...not to mention, just like white pines, acers arent the easient to strike from cuttings, especially when dealing with an ornamental variety, and especially in the nursery business...that leaves grafting a scion onto the root stock of a regular old green japanese maple...when these grafts are made in the nursery business, they are done quickly, and by the hundreds with no thought of how the union will look...this is how your tree came about.

nod your head so i know you arent falling asleep

this brings us to where we are today...tring to make a bonsai out of a grafted variety acer...the problem we face is the area of the graft union being too high and having a bad scar with bark that is obviously different...air-layering isnt a very good option since the variety is most likely a weak grower...it may not even take...if it does, it may not survive past a few seasons, and if it does survive it will probably grow very slowly and with a generally weak habbit...we cant say this for sure, but the chances are pretty high when it comes to acer varieties its a weakling with pretty foliage...you could air-layer/ground layer right below the graft union, but that would still leave part of the scar at the base of the root flare...this could be an option depending on how bad the scar is, but we need that close up before we can say for sure...another option is to creat another root system higher up on the tree, but instead of having the root system of 'koto buki', we need to introduce the roots system of strong growing green acer...the only way i can think of to do this is to approach graft several seedlings all around the trunk so that the root systems of the green acer seedlings will eventually be what is feeding the tree...

so, to answer your question...no...dont collect seeds from the tree you have, go get some 2 yr old green acer seedlings...

but, really, all of this is why people pretty much concluded that this tree might be best put into the landscape since everything involved in trying to solve the graft problem may end up being much more trouble than what it is ultimately worth...with that said though, the 'koto buki' variety does have some nice foliage, so maybe it would be worth it...

hope that helped...

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Re: Newbie with nursery stock Acer palmatum

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