When to chop Maple?

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When to chop Maple?

Post  Ryan on Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:41 pm

Hi all,


I have been getting mixed results from several forums and online sources as to when to chop back Trident Maples. I read on Bonsai4Me that chopping in spring will cause the tree to bleed tons of sap, but then I read that you do chop when the buds are swelling, yet I also read that you chop once the tree is in full leaf. So, when do I chop? I've got a Trident that needs a chop back and it is pushing buds. Chop now? When chopped, do I need to seal the wound?

Ryan
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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  bucknbonsai on Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:57 pm

you can get away with giant chops in the spring as long as you also reduce the roots (you can mess with roots as leaves start to open- american bonsai society magazine in 2011 the one with a double trunk bouganvillia on the cover has an article of bjorn borholms that shows pictures of the exact stage that tridents and japanese maples can have their roots messed with) If you do a giant trunk chop with an intact root system then you can have a lot of bleeding. So if you are digging them anyways then go ahead and now is likely fine (bjorn says japanese maples you have to be exact with timing of root damage but with tridents its way more flexible) If you are not digging then I would wait till summer dormancy. I have good luck with appropriate sized callous tissue forming on tridents when I do major cuts in summer dormancy.

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  drgonzo on Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:17 am

I just did some pretty heavy branch work to my Trident and this was just as the buds were extending and showing green and I was surprised how "dry" the tree was. I was expecting a gusher! I did a test branch first of course to make sure.

-jay

Buck when did Bjorn say it was best to do Japanese maples?

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  bucknbonsai on Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:22 am

He states the buds should actually be extending and the first leafs starting to just barely unfurl, yet the picture he showed look like bloom pods opening to me. But he did show a picture of when not to repot and that was when the buds were obviously swollen but not open yet, he says japanese maple limbs are just to weak to repot at that stage even though the tree looks very much awake. Hopefully someone has computer skills and an ABS membership and can scan in a picture of it.

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  Ryan on Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:19 am

Thank you both!

I will not be digging the tree, it is potted. There are some leaves that appear to be unfurling. Here's the tree as of last year:


I would like to chop it down to here or so:


Here are some nebari shots:



So then if I'm going to hack it way back, how much do I take off the roots? Should I do roots first then chop?

Ryan
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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  bucknbonsai on Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:40 am

you need to get it out of that pot and into a shallow growing pot on a tile or in the ground on a tile. you need to remove all downgrowing roots so that your nebari fatten up better. those 2 heavier roots you have out to the sides should be pruned to slow them down and let the other thinner ones in the nebari run long. by putting them on the tile and getting rid of unneeded verical roots you will get a swollen base fast. You need to graft some roots on the back side. You can get away with like 75% root reduction on tridents if done at the right time, maybe even more. How tall are you wanting your finished tree to be, that determines where you want the first trunk chop.

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  Marty Weiser on Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:51 am

What about doing a high trunk chop (above 6 - 8 branches) this spring which may bleed a fair bit and then doing the low chop in the summer without doing any root work? The idea is that with a tree that is this tall, the first chop will stimulate some low buds that will then grow after the summer chop. I have not tried this approach since I have not had a tree this tall to chop, but it makes sense to me.

I agree that it needs to go into a shallower pot/box to develop the nebari. There is a very good start that needs development.

Marty

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  Ryan on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:03 am

Thanks for the replies!

The heavier root on the left side is covering a smaller root so it definitely will go. I unfortunately cannot plant it in the ground, so I'll have to fasten a grow box. As to how tall I want the finished tree to be, I'd say no more than a foot tall. I like smaller trees, easier to carry. When I do repot it and cut off 75% of the roots, should I also bare root it so that I can plant it over a tile?

Interesting idea Marty, I'll be curious as to what others say.

Now, time to get searching on building a grow box....

Ryan
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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  Ryan on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:23 am

Another quick question, wouldn't reducing the roots make it harder for the tree to push new leaves after the chop?

Ryan
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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  drgonzo on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:29 am

Ryan wrote:Another quick question, wouldn't reducing the roots make it harder for the tree to push new leaves after the chop?

Makes sense. The way I always handle drastic reductions (beyond all visible buds) is not to touch the roots in the same season. Thats mostly because my growing season is short and also because doing both at the same time has been the only time I've killed trees. I like to use the force of a full root system to get good growth going before frost hits

If that were my tree I'd whack it at 3 inches or so at the end of May, keep it in good sun and see what happens.
-Jay

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  Ryan on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:33 am

drgonzo wrote:
Ryan wrote:Another quick question, wouldn't reducing the roots make it harder for the tree to push new leaves after the chop?

Makes sense. The way I always handle drastic reductions (beyond all visible buds) is not to touch the roots in the same season. Thats mostly because my growing season is short and also because doing both at the same time has been the only time I've killed trees. I like to use the force of a full root system to get good growth going before frost hits

If that were my tree I'd whack it at 3 inches or so at the end of May, keep it in good sun and see what happens.
-Jay

See now why do you suggest the end of May when the tree is in full leaf?

Also, would I be able to use a large bulb pan, or large (very large) cut down pot instead of a grow box? I'm not the best carpenter Laughing

Ryan
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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  drgonzo on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:37 am

End of May up here for me in Ny would give time for new growth to push. Yeah in full leaf, maybe with a bit of spring vigor left for some extra push, You're in VA so you might be able to do it sooner. Like I say I wouldn't disturb the roots so I would save my grow box and tile for next year after the tree has pushed new growth from the chop this year.

I'll be doing something very similar to what your contemplating with another known "bleeder" Betula nigra and I'll wait until after the first set of leaves have hardened nicely (May-ish) and I wont mess with the roots.

-Jay

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  Ryan on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:39 am

drgonzo wrote:End of May up here for me in Ny would give time for new growth to push. Yeah in full leaf, maybe with a bit of spring vigor left for some extra push, You're in VA so you might be able to do it sooner.

I'll be doing something very similar to what your contemplating with another known "bleeder" Betula nigra and I'll wait until after the first set of leaves have hardened nicely (May-ish) and I wont mess with the roots.

-Jay

Thanks!

Why should I even be concerned about the tree "bleeding", as from what I've read trees cannot "bleed" to death.

Ryan
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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  drgonzo on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:43 am

Ryan wrote:
drgonzo wrote:End of May up here for me in Ny would give time for new growth to push. Yeah in full leaf, maybe with a bit of spring vigor left for some extra push, You're in VA so you might be able to do it sooner.

I'll be doing something very similar to what your contemplating with another known "bleeder" Betula nigra and I'll wait until after the first set of leaves have hardened nicely (May-ish) and I wont mess with the roots.

-Jay

Thanks!

Why should I even be concerned about the tree "bleeding", as from what I've read trees cannot "bleed" to death.

This is true, most trees will wall off the wound eventually, some take a while to do so and in the process sap (sometimes a lot of sap) can be lost. I really dont think you'll have much trouble from this Trident though.

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  bucknbonsai on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:45 am

ryan i grew up doing a lot field growing (mostly all tridents) not far from you and with tridents you can get away with anything (as long as its the right time of year and you keep the root hairs moist while working on it) I do not know what kind of soil that nursery pot has but with mine from the field I keep a 100gallon cattle trough filled with water in the bonsai growing area and with just a few vigorous dips up and down like churning butter motion, pretty much all the dirt will fall off enough to do what you need to do. I tend to reduce top and bottom at the same time and do it in the spring and i have never killed a trident. you will still have plenty of buds popping even with huge root reductions, I promise. and if you want your tree to be no taller than 12 inches, depending on the style I would definitely do your first chop maybe only 4 inches high, and i would do it now as well. If your going to thread graft new nebari on the back I would pot up seedlings in real small pots now and then in mid summer you can disturb very little soil of the main tree and drop the undisturbed little root balls in place. Or you could just do the graft now while you are bare rooting it (easier to drill at exact right place then)

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  drgonzo on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:50 am

You know I remember reading somewhere that the way the chinese grow them out for export is in a field until they are tall like this one is then cut the trunk to whatever height, cut off all the branches, and then cut all the roots off leaving only 2-3 inch stubs, then stick them in pots and they bounce right back, I certainly went heavy on mine last week root wise and she's just banging out leaves.

The willow leaf ficus's of the Maple world maybe, is what I thought.
-jay

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  Ryan on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:51 am

bucknbonsai wrote:ryan i grew up doing a lot field growing (mostly all tridents) not far from you and with tridents you can get away with anything (as long as its the right time of year and you keep the root hairs moist while working on it) I do not know what kind of soil that nursery pot has but with mine from the field I keep a 100gallon cattle trough filled with water in the bonsai growing area and with just a few vigorous dips up and down like churning butter motion, pretty much all the dirt will fall off enough to do what you need to do. I tend to reduce top and bottom at the same time and do it in the spring and i have never killed a trident. you will still have plenty of buds popping even with huge root reductions, I promise. and if you want your tree to be no taller than 12 inches, depending on the style I would definitely do your first chop maybe only 4 inches high, and i would do it now as well. If your going to thread graft new nebari on the back I would pot up seedlings in real small pots now and then in mid summer you can disturb very little soil of the main tree and drop the undisturbed little root balls in place. Or you could just do the graft now while you are bare rooting it (easier to drill at exact right place then)


What if instead of 75% I instead did, say, 40-50%, bare rooted it, and planted it over a tile. That way it would still have a good amount of roots. Should I chop first or do root work first? Or does it even matter so long as its done in the same day (I assume it doesn't)?

Ryan
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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  bucknbonsai on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:52 am

ryan just go to lowes and get some concrete mixing tubs there are 2 sizes and they are about 12 dollars and 6 dollars. you will probably need the 6 dollar size for this tree. But even for trees smaller than yours I will often get the 12 dollar size which is about 3 feet long and place a shallow rooted tree that is not very big right on the bottom of the pot and since you dont want to much sopping wet soil just only put about an 1.5 to 2 inches of soil in it and the bottom of the pot will act as the tile. Next year(or i have even done mid summer) just lift up the root ball poor in 2 more inches of soil in the bottom and put the root ball right back down again (at this point you would put a tile under it). you can do this for about 3 seasons as the tubs are about 6 inches deep. this would produce a lot of growth, I dont know if your shooting for a skinny 12" tall tree or a sumo style 12" tall tree.

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  bucknbonsai on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:56 am

do it same day. Tom scott who is now in his 80s in chatanooga TN has taught me a lot about field growing tridents, hes been doing it since the early 70s, he describes once seeing a refrigerated room stacked to the ceiling of thousands of maples bareroot for up to weeks at a time waiting for shipping. its incredible what they can survive.

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  Ryan on Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:59 am

bucknbonsai wrote:ryan just go to lowes and get some concrete mixing tubs there are 2 sizes and they are about 12 dollars and 6 dollars. you will probably need the 6 dollar size for this tree. But even for trees smaller than yours I will often get the 12 dollar size which is about 3 feet long and place a shallow rooted tree that is not very big right on the bottom of the pot and since you dont want to much sopping wet soil just only put about an 1.5 to 2 inches of soil in it and the bottom of the pot will act as the tile. Next year(or i have even done mid summer) just lift up the root ball poor in 2 more inches of soil in the bottom and put the root ball right back down again (at this point you would put a tile under it). you can do this for about 3 seasons as the tubs are about 6 inches deep. this would produce a lot of growth, I dont know if your shooting for a skinny 12" tall tree or a sumo style 12" tall tree.

I'll check tomorrow for those tubs. Do you think a reduction of the rootball by 50% and bare rooting would allow the roots to sit on the bottom of the tub? Should I cover these exposed roots or leave them exposed?

I think a sumo style one would be great, especially if I can get those roots to all melt together later down the road...

Ryan
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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  bucknbonsai on Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:00 am

Oh, he has also had them survive 5 hour drives bareroot with zero protection in the back of a pickup truck on the way home from a bonsai show with no adverse affect. This is what he says at least. He does point out that the only one he has known to be killed of any of these is when one of our club members tried taking one directly from his field and potting it up in a very coarse rocky gravel type mix that is used for ponderosas.

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  Marty Weiser on Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:08 am

For shallow boxes you can buy Anderson flats from various sources or make your own. You can make your own as complicated as you want, but a basic grow box can be made from 2x4 or 2x6 stock cut to the inside box dimension plus 1.5". Cover the bottom with 1/4" hardware cloth or similar (available at many places in the USA and presume elsewhere) and add a couple of feet made from 1x2 stock (I think metric wood dimensions would be 4x10, 4x14, and 2x4 cm, but I am not sure). I prefer to make it all from Redwood or pressure treated lumber and miter the corners with some taper from top to bottom, but those are details. The mesh bottom allows for excellent drainage so you can fertilize heavily and prevents the roots from circling the pot bottom.

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  bucknbonsai on Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:11 am

cover the roots the same amount that they look like now in your nursery can. Sometimes (if the roots are stiff and wont allow for potting it flat) for the first few months I will keep a few heavy rocks on the rootball to keep it pressed down to the bottom of the pot and this helps protect from heavy watering disturbing new roots. In stead of rocks you can use a tile or thick plastic plate with drill holes around the perimeter, you can tie the roots in the position you want with twine and by the time the roots set the twine will rot away before having time to scar the roots. 50 percent reduction is fine. Last year I had pretty much the same tree as you have, I cut it from 7 feet tall down to 1foot tall and I cut ALL of the rootball off except for the amount of surface roots as the tree in your picture. I even did it after it had leafed out completely (i got away with it because i removed 90 percent of its leaves by chopping it down). It rebounded so quick it sent out multiple 3-4 foot long shoots by the end of that very same growing season. Its doing great this year, and by getting rid off all those roots that were growing strait down, the surface nebari (which is why i bought the tree) really beefed up already.

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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  Ryan on Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:13 am

Thank you Marty. After looking online of the pictures of the mixing tubs, I think I'll probably go that route. They don't appear to have holes in the bottom, however, so I'll have to drill a good amount...

Ryan
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Re: When to chop Maple?

Post  Ryan on Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:15 am

bucknbonsai wrote:cover the roots the same amount that they look like now in your nursery can. Sometimes (if the roots are stiff and wont allow for potting it flat) for the first few months I will keep a few heavy rocks on the rootball to keep it pressed down to the bottom of the pot and this helps protect from heavy watering disturbing new roots. In stead of rocks you can use a tile or thick plastic plate with drill holes around the perimeter, you can tie the roots in the position you want with twine and by the time the roots set the twine will rot away before having time to scar the roots. 50 percent reduction is fine. Last year I had pretty much the same tree as you have, I cut it from 7 feet tall down to 1foot tall and I cut ALL of the rootball off except for the amount of surface roots as the tree in your picture. I even did it after it had leafed out completely (i got away with it because i removed 90 percent of its leaves by chopping it down). It rebounded so quick it sent out multiple 3-4 foot long shoots by the end of that very same growing season. Its doing great this year, and by getting rid off all those roots that were growing strait down, the surface nebari (which is why i bought the tree) really beefed up already.

Thank you! Tomorrow I'll buy the tub, chop the tree down to a few inches tall, bare root it, and plant the tree in the tub. Should it go in the shade or the sun? I assume I'll also have to protect the stump from cold temperatures as well.

Ryan
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