Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'

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Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'

Postby Rustyck » August 6th, 2018, 9:22 am

Hi everyone,
Reaching out for some advise for a “present” JM.
Back story:
The better half went to the local big green shed, came back with a new shower head and new tap for the kitchen, and two magnolias.

We were there the day before and she saw me snooping around the Japanese maples in the discount section

As a bribe/present she got me a purple one because it’s prettier than my other “spikey” trees.

Our place probably isn’t the best for a JM and we get a bit of wind and full sun on our small patio - hence my reluctance in getting one.

But because it was cheap I’ll use this as a trial! And find a sheltered spot for it...

Here’s the tree in Question:

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Now, my thoughts.
I have to cut it down obviously but I was wondering how far down would be best. (I was thinking just a few intersections after the split but can got lower if recommended.

Also could I potentially take the second large branch as a cutting and have it strike? Not sure on the success rate for a JM let alone the Atropurpureum roots hence the grafting.

Roots are a mess, it was in a bag and bare rooted (didn’t take a photo as I was in a rush) but a couple large roots and no real structure.

I was thinking to layer quite low to encourage new root structure on the base tree to get new roots and also minimise the size of the graft.

Any advice would be grateful!
This will be a tester tree so won’t be too emotionally invested!

Thanks all!



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Re: Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'

Postby Beano » August 6th, 2018, 11:36 am

Is that a graft? Don’t chop it below the graft or you won’t have the purple leaf variety anymore.
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Re: Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'

Postby Bougy Fan » August 6th, 2018, 2:52 pm

Agree with Beano. Grafted trees can also be a problem for making into a good bonsai.
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Re: Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'

Postby Rustyck » August 6th, 2018, 3:35 pm

Yep, it’s a graft it seems.
Not too focused on making an award wining bonsai, going to make sure I can keep it alive but as a bonsai for myself and learn from it.
(If all goes well, I will look at getting proper stock to work with haha my partner doesn’t realise what she’s done)

Has anyone tried trying cuttings for this type?
Or at least grow without the graft?



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Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'

Postby Beano » August 6th, 2018, 3:58 pm

I think I read that that variety doesn’t need to be grafted but maybe it’s easier to propagate that way. I don’t know. Grafted trees mostly don’t make great bonsai unless it’s a really good non bulging graft but don’t let that stop you trying. Some people have airlayered just below the graft so the bulge is closer to the ground and looks a bit less obvious. I’ve got a very ugly grafted cherry in the ground at the moment and that won’t stop me trying to make something out of it. Even if it’s just to see how fussy it is to keep as a bonsai.
Last edited by Beano on August 6th, 2018, 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'

Postby Keep Calm and Ramify » August 6th, 2018, 5:39 pm

Hi Rustyck,
If this were mine, I probably keep it as is & enjoy the beauty of all the colourful leaves it will eventually offer you.
This tree could make a nice [tall] potted specimen tree to enhance your patio area & compliment other bonsai you may have growing close by.
(sorry, probably not the "bonsai" advice you were looking for :D )
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Re: Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'

Postby shibui » August 6th, 2018, 7:02 pm

You can grow Japanese Maple as cuttings (at least some people can - just does not seem to work for me). Reliability is quite low though. Layering is a better prospect and more reliable. maybe let this one grow and take some layers at some stage?

With the tree you have:
Different coloured bark on the rootstock will always stand out and the graft union will also probably be visible for a very long time. I can't see any roots. Nebari is an important part of JM bonsai. In many cases when these are potted up they just throw the roots in the bottom of the pot and add mix. It is possible that you may have even longer roostock section which will make the trunk even taller before the first purple branches. Check this before making any other decisions.

If you are determined to try bonsai with this plant it does need to be pruned. The others have already talked about not cutting down to the graft.
You probably need to remove one of the 2 current trunks. Ideally you'd normally cut the thicker one to give your bonsai some more taper but the thin one is very straight and also has longer internodes :shake: Probably best to use the thicker one. I think the best option would be to remove the thin one altogether then shorten the thicker one leaving 1 or 2 buds above that fork. It looks a bit like that trunk is a bit thicker near the 2nd node? If so just leave the 1 node above the fork.

I can't see this being great bonsai but you will get some practice.
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Re: Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'

Postby Rustyck » August 7th, 2018, 1:05 pm

I value your opinion Keep calm, so don’t worry if it’s not the answer someone is fishing for ;)

Thanks shibui, I might look at cutting and also as a potential for an air layer later on - and enjoy the colours in the mean time!

Thank you all, if anything exciting happens, progresses or doesn’t cope with the potential wind/ I kill it - I will update.


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Re: Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'

Postby Rustyck » August 7th, 2018, 1:06 pm

Thanks shibui, I might look at cutting-(chopping, not trying to get cuttings to strike)


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Re: Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'

Postby melbrackstone » August 7th, 2018, 3:53 pm

I don't know if it's my climate or what, but I've shoved a few cuttings into bonsai mix in nursery pots and had some pretty good and fast results. I'm shocking at keeping notes, so can't say when I've taken them, but I'd be guessing it was late Winter and then again in early Autumn... so if you do cut anything off, stick it in a pot and see how you go. :) All the other advice is sound, so you've got plenty of options even if this one is going to end up as a learning tool.
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