Can this Japanese Maple be Saved?

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Can this Japanese Maple be Saved?

Post  H on Thu Jul 28, 2011 1:27 am

I have a Japanese Maple which has been in the ground ten+ years that is declining. Can it be for bonsai?



The trunk has a 3 1/2 inch diameter; it is 11 inches tall before the branches start, and about eight feet tall.

I do not know the variety, but it has green leaves edged in white. Last year it started reverting back to solid green leaves. This year, I noticed that it was suffering, and now has a dead branch.



I want to root prune it now - not lift it out, but cut around the outside of the roots to encourage new feeder roots before I dig it. Then, dig it in November or February, cut the branches to 25 inches, trim the bottom roots, and plant in a large pot.

Do y'all think it will survive, or should I handle it differently? I am going to loose the tree anyway where it is, and I was hoping to save it as bonsai, but I need lots of advise. I see buds at the bottom of all the branches except the dead one.

I live in west-central Georgia, zone 7B. The first frost for my area is around October 15, so I have two+ months for new feeder roots to form.


H
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Can this Japanese Maple be Saved?

Post  Guest on Thu Jul 28, 2011 1:44 am

You may be able to save this Maple but not by digging it up now. That will kill it. I would recommend cutting the tree back past the die back, then disinfecting your tools and wait till Spring before lifting.

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Re: Can this Japanese Maple be Saved?

Post  marcus watts on Thu Jul 28, 2011 7:12 am

hi,
certainly leave it in the grround until spring - to create a trunk that can be styled as a bonsai i'd saw off the bulk of the tree with a diagonal cut so only one branch remains - this will create quite a realistic taper to the trunk. then shorten the one remaining branch to about 8". this will create a mass of new buds and shoots all over the trunk that will form the new branches.

i think the dieback has been caused by planting it too close to the wall although there is probably now disease in the dead areas so remove all these, burn them or dispose of them

in spring when the buds are swelling the tree can be lifted and put in a large pot or box - it will be a good few years before it goes in a bonsai pot

marcus watts
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Re: Can this Japanese Maple be Saved?

Post  Kev Bailey on Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:50 am

Dieback like this is also typical of Verticillium wilt. If you cut off a dead branch below where it looks dead and you see a small area if dark brown staining in the centre, that is indicative of "Vert" It usually kills the tree after a couple of years. Best to cut it way back below the affected portions, with sterilised tools and burn the offcuts. Leave in the ground and pray.

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Can this Japanese Maple be Saved?

Post  H on Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:39 am

Thank you all. I'll give it a try and pray a lot, Kev. All this brings on one more question. When planting it in a pot or box next spring, is the idea to restrict the roots either vertically or horizontally or just let them grow like they want to?

H
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Re: Can this Japanese Maple be Saved?

Post  John Quinn on Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:59 am

You will want the roots to radiate outwards from the trunk, giving a nice, radial root distribution. A pot or growing box that is wider than it is deep fits the bill. Some will place a tile underneath a tree planted in the ground to achieve the same result.

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Re: Can this Japanese Maple be Saved?

Post  Russell Coker on Fri Jul 29, 2011 2:20 pm

First, the variety is 'Butterfly'. It's not very strong, so it's usually grafted which is a plus if you're growing it as a garden tree, but usually not a plus for bonsai. I can't see a graft union on yours, though. Maybe it's really low, but usually aren't. Also, 'Butterfly' is not a very stable variegated mutation, and you (or someone else) should have been removing the solid green branches all along.

As for your plans, I don't think it's a very good bonsai candidate. For me the variegation will be a distraction, and you're going to have to cut it back really hard to make anything out of it. Since it's such a weak maple to begin with, and sick on top of that, I don't think I'd do it. I'd be concentrating on getting it transplanted at the appropriate time, getting it healthy, removing the green branches and enjoy it for the garden tree it is.

I guess if it's free (these are usually expensive), and needs to be moved anyway, you have nothing to lose...

Russell Coker
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Can this Japanese Maple be Saved?

Post  H on Sat Jul 30, 2011 3:00 am

Thanks for the advice and information. Y'all always come through. I'm sure I'll be back with more questions.

H
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