Hard pruning Acer palmatum

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Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby Jarrod » January 30th, 2010, 8:27 am

I have a leggy Japanese maple that I hve let grow out while I was sorting out the roots (ground layering) and I now need to get the growth back to where I want it. The tree is now 6' plus and I want a tree around 40-50cm. This will mean cutting it to around 20cm at a guess. To add to the trouble, it's a 5 trunk clump so I will be cutting 5 sections off.

My question is, to avoid as much die back as possible, when should I hack this tree down to a transportable size?

Here is how it looks this morning.

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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby Greth » January 30th, 2010, 8:36 am

I would reduce the height by half just so that is is manageable, then remove the branches which absolutely have to go, then sit and think or post again, should be easier to think about then!
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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby Jarrod » January 30th, 2010, 9:06 am

Thanks for the reply Greth. I know that I will need to remove all branches as this tree has none in the first 40 cm and alot of that section is straight and boring. This will be a tree that I will need to completely regrow.

Cheers
Last edited by Jarrod on January 30th, 2010, 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby Bretts » January 30th, 2010, 9:24 am

I asked Peter Adams this question when he came to town Jarrod. He stated that early Autumn was the best time to hard prune deciduous. He also said that just that bit of advice was worth the price of the demonstration. :shock:
I am not sure exactly what the reason is for this time, whether Peter stated and I forgot I am not sure. I would really like to know why I am doing something. Maybe the notes that Mela uploaded will have something. I think that was one Mela missed though.
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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby Leigh Taafe » January 30th, 2010, 9:39 am

G'day mate!

In my experience, it depends on what you want to achieve from pruning hard. Brett & Peter are right, hard pruning just after the leaves have fallen is a good idea, but not necessarily the best if you want more growth to your tree as a result. Sap flow is at its minimal just after the leaves have fallen, and generally I will clean up any unwanted branches at this time. However, if I was chopping a big tree like yours down and wanted to create new branches, then I would do this in January - when the weather is hot ! There is also minimal sap flow at this time of year, and as long as you seal your cuts well, you wont get too much die back at all - usually only to the next node. The tree will respond well by shooting new growth and giving you more options in branching closer to the base. Where you are up there Jamie - I reckon you should still be right to do it now !

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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby Greth » January 30th, 2010, 9:58 am

Thanks Leigh, I don't have much experience with deciduous, so didn't want to suggest a harder chop, but I was pretty sure half the height wouldn't hurt it, and taking off a few really bad citizens among the branches wouldn't hurt it either. And if he could post another pic once it is cleaned up a bit, would make it easier for style suggestions.
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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby Jarrod » January 30th, 2010, 10:22 am

Thanks for the replies. I was thinking start of autumn to to avoid excessive bleeding. It's funny that you say Jan Leigh as it sort of seems logical as I find this trees has slowed it's growth so a hard prune now will kick start it to pushing some new growth as a guess.

Here is the base of the tree. Bout as fat around as a coke can, maybe a bit more.

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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby Jamie » January 30th, 2010, 11:00 am

Where you are up there Jamie - I reckon you should still be right to do it now !



:shock: i didnt expect that :lol: im still waiting for my trident to pop! it was pushing strong growth then i chopped back to a stump to get new branchlets and it still hasnt shown growth, scratch tests show vibrant green, i am trying to swap it for something that will like my climate more and hopefully will grow better somewhere else! to much potential to just let die!

sorry for the hi jack :? :D


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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby Leigh Taafe » January 30th, 2010, 11:05 am

Oops - seems I mixed Jarrod and Jamie up ! - Melbourne should be hot enough to do it now too !

Jamie, That trident.....when did you chop it?

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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby Jamie » January 30th, 2010, 11:08 am

dec. some time, it was still popping growth, i cut just above that but accidently took the new leader off with it, a pup "oh bugger" moment :? :oops: :lol: :D


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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby Jarrod » January 30th, 2010, 11:14 am

Thanks for that Leigh. I will cut it in the next few days. Will repost photos when it's done. I checked out the ground layer I did to it earlier today as well and it looks like I have loads of perfect roots radiating off :D

Now it s time to start building a tree from the roots up.

If anyone else has tips or hints please let me know.

And don't worry about the hi Jack Jamie. I wanna see your trident bounce back so any help you vet is useful.
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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby Leigh Taafe » January 30th, 2010, 12:25 pm

Oh - I thought December would have been fine for you up there Jamie ! Maybe it was a bit early. Down here I wouldnt even think of doing it before Xmas. Is this the same tree we have been talking about before? It still has a bright green cambium?
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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby Greth » January 30th, 2010, 1:26 pm

You could have guessed, Leigh, if it was Jamie it would not have been 6 feet high...
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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby craigw60 » January 30th, 2010, 3:22 pm

Hi Jarrod,
My experience with palmatums is if you hard prune when the tree is growing they tend to bleed a lot I would reckon on doing it in the late autumn or early winter when the sap has slowed right down.
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Re: Hard pruning Acer palmatum

Postby shibui » January 30th, 2010, 3:34 pm

I'd be happy to do hard pruning on palmatum in summer as suggeseted by Leigh. I have experienced heavy 'bleeding' but only when pruning immediately before or soon after budburst. After the leaves harden sap flow seems to settle down or the trees natural defences turn on or something and bleeding is minimal.
The choice between summer and Autumn will have to be yours.
Love these multi trumk palmatums so much more like the natural growth form of mature palmatum I think. Getting the branch structure just right is still proving a little tricky though.
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