pruning japanese maple

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Hprelude
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pruning japanese maple

Post by Hprelude » July 3rd, 2016, 4:59 pm

Hi everyone,

I purchased these Japanese Maples mid last year and just let them grow.
Now it's time i prune them into something that looks much nicer however im new to the bonsai world and have not idea where to start!

What are some ideas and where should i start pruning them?
Do i take much off?

IMG_7835.JPG

IMG_7834.JPG


Sorry for the side photos, I dont know why they show on the side when the photo is actually taken upright.
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Re: pruning japanese maple

Post by shibui » July 3rd, 2016, 5:46 pm

How much you cut off depends on several things:
How big do you want your bonsai to be? Cut back a little shorter than your design to leave room for them to grow back in spring.
Do you want a nice thick trunk? If yes then probably don't cut anything off. Put them into larger pots or in the garden and let them grow for a year or 2.
What shaped bonsai do you want? Both have pretty straight, vertical trunks so I guess you are aiming to grow a sort of broom style bonsai. If so I'd cut back all branches to leave just 1 or 2 nodes. That will make all those branches produce more new shoots to start forming a tree shaped canopy.

Something to watch out for: the second picture shows a cluster of branches growing from the same place (back branch). I can see 3 larger branches and 3 or 4 smaller ones all growing from one node. You really need to cut some of those off. When there are a few branches close together the trunk will thicken up and look quite ugly. This is especially true for Japanese maples and you need to be very strict and keep all forks to have just 2 ie 'V' shape forks.
I'd also offer the observation that Japanese maples are not really easy to do well. You have not picked an easy one for a beginner to start with.
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Re: pruning japanese maple

Post by Bonsaiforest » July 3rd, 2016, 9:16 pm

When is the best time to prune Japanese Maples....I have some branches that I'd like to shorten & re-grow/replace. The branches are 6mm - 10mm thick. Not sure if this should be carried out now in winter or wait until late spring/early summer.

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Re: pruning japanese maple

Post by shibui » July 4th, 2016, 7:43 am

I don't think there's a 'best time'. I have pruned a lot of mine this week - mid winter but I'll also prune late spring and summer when necessary. Small cuts are ok left raw but I do like to seal anything larger than around 8mm to reduce chances of fungal infection and to speed up healing.
I avoid pruning maples close to bud burst. They often 'bleed' from the cuts and sometimes die back after pruning then.
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Re: pruning japanese maple

Post by treeman » July 4th, 2016, 11:39 am

There absolutely is a best time. That is just as the last few leaves are falling off the tree. It is then that the sap activity is at it's lowest and the chances of excessive bleeding is lowest.
By winter it is too late and it's likely you will get heavy bleeding if pruned then. Of course if you are pruning roots right after you have pruned and wired your tree, this overcomes the problem completely.
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Re: pruning japanese maple

Post by KIRKY » July 4th, 2016, 12:22 pm

Welcome back Treeman.
I have to agree with you on this one. I was weeding my Maples and just trimmed the tip of a dead twig tip. I went just past the dead twiggy bit into live tissue. It bleed continuously. That was last week. I was amazed at just how much bleeding was caused and at this time of year. I did seal the twig due to the excessive bleed. Not sure if it was due to the amount of rain and drizzle we have had lately, but it was continuous, just short of dripping. I would wipe it off only for it to form again until I finally sealed it. So if trimming now make sure you seal all cuts even the twiggy growth. :imo:
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Re: pruning japanese maple

Post by longd_au » July 4th, 2016, 4:23 pm

I don't mean to steal this thread but my question is related to maple pruning and should contribute to this discussion.
I have 4 air layers I want to take off the parent tree.

I was under the impression that Maples (Acer.P) tend to get fungal infections (go black) when pruned too early in Winter. This is why I tend to prune mine just as bud burst in Spring.
Reading this thread, I am confused again.

Should I take off the air layer now? Most of the leaf have dropped but I think there are still one or two hanging on.
After removing the layer, I will have to prune some branches off as I doubt the roots can sustain that much growth above it.
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Re: pruning japanese maple

Post by Robsterios » July 4th, 2016, 5:02 pm

I to wait with baited breath on the answer to this one...re; air layer removal - and timing of for Japanese Maple...I have an Arakawa (pine bark) maple layer that I'm rather excited about. Was going to wait until early Spring, just before bud burst but perhaps earlier is better as I have to give the top a bit chop back, pretty much back to a stump..

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Re: pruning japanese maple

Post by Bonsaiforest » July 4th, 2016, 6:09 pm

shibui wrote:I don't think there's a 'best time'. I have pruned a lot of mine this week - mid winter but I'll also prune late spring and summer when necessary. Small cuts are ok left raw but I do like to seal anything larger than around 8mm to reduce chances of fungal infection and to speed up healing.
I avoid pruning maples close to bud burst. They often 'bleed' from the cuts and sometimes die back after pruning then.


In terms of "die back" so ...when branches on Japanese maples do bleed, does this mean that the branch dies back to the closest buds on branch... or can the whole branch die back due to excessive bleeding...? Wonder how this would effect dormant buds at the base of branch where it meets the trunkline...
Last edited by Bonsaiforest on July 4th, 2016, 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: pruning japanese maple

Post by shibui » July 4th, 2016, 6:58 pm

Usually just a branch will die but long ago I had a JM that bled profusely for a week or so after pruning at bud burst and then did not leaf out at all afterward - totally dead. I'm not certain that it was directly related to pruning and bleeding but I don't want to check to see if it will happen again.
While I do try to prune JM early winter like Treeman I don't have problems pruning up to about mid winter and don't seem to have any problem after leaves have hardened off later in spring - maybe that's because of conditions here?

I was weeding my Maples and just trimmed the tip of a dead twig tip. I went just past the dead twiggy bit into live tissue. It bleed continuously. That was last week. I was amazed at just how much bleeding was caused and at this time of year. I did seal the twig due to the excessive bleed. Not sure if it was due to the amount of rain and drizzle we have had lately, but it was continuous, just short of dripping. I would wipe it off only for it to form again until I finally sealed it. So if trimming now make sure you seal all cuts even the twiggy growth.
Yes, maples do ooze a few drops or a trickle down the trunk when pruned in winter. In my experience that soon stops with no ill effects. When I have tried sealing a cut that is bleeding badly the sealer just gets pushed straight off. It just can't stick on because of the sap pushing out.

AP can get infections through open wounds in wet conditions through winter but that's not really common. I have found that keeping mine a little drier in winter reduces that problem.
If you are going to cut below the ground (root prune or sever a layer) there does not seem to be a problem with bleeding so you can probably wait until closer to bud burst to remove your layers Dennis. They won't bleed because they have very few roots to push the sap up.
Same for Rob's tree. Root prune and prune the top at the same time - no problem.
If you prune and end up with bad bleeding just root prune and it stops almost immediately.
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Re: pruning japanese maple

Post by longd_au » July 5th, 2016, 9:26 am

Thanks Shibui. Sounds like a plan to me. I was intending to take off the layer as close to spring as possible.
I did a ground layer a few years ago and it took 2 yrs for the maple to recover after severe die back and some blackening of most branches.
I am really scared of maples but I love the color. You really need to do everything right or a lot of things can go wrong.
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Re: pruning japanese maple

Post by pureheart » May 26th, 2019, 9:12 am

Just want to say very useful information …. I’m eagerly waiting for my maple to drop the leaves and finally clean it!

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