Acer palmatum development pruning

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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby Grant Bowie » June 17th, 2013, 6:36 pm

The lower trunk has plenty of movement to the left but the majority of trunks and strength is on the right hand side.

I would remove the very small, downward growing branch under the first trunk on the right (de-emphasising that side); shorten the strong apexes(apices) of the first 3 trunks on the right (thus bringing them into harmony with number 4 trunk.)

I would lightly shorten the next 2 trunks(the 2 largest) and allow the lowest one on the left to flourish and elongate.

Follow 2 x 2 ;to use as many branches as possible' and get the taper and ramification going.

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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby shibui » June 17th, 2013, 8:25 pm

Well done everyone on your perception and great ideas for improvement. I agree that this tree needs more work on styling the main framework but that can wait until later. If you can manage to ignore any problems with the main branches for now and try to pretend the basic framework is ok we will come back to that toward the en of this process. For now I want to concentrate on the processes and techniques to develop good structure.

My first step is to remove growth with long internodes. This tree grew strongly last season and has some very long internodes.
AP long internodes 1.JPG
AP long internodes 2.JPG
AP long internodes 3.JPG

Not all the shoots had such long internodes but at this stage of development anything longer than about 1-2 cm will be too long to give the delicate, fine ramification that a good palmatum should have. In lots of cases this means cutting the shoot right back to the base which is quite frustrating to trim back to where it was last year and start again but I have trees that were developed in haste years ago and those areas where branches were grown from shoots with long internodes stand out now as real faults in the structure and I want to avoid that with my newer trees. This is where I have an issue with the 'let shoots grow 6-8 pairs of leaves then cut back to the first pair' method that is usually taught - that is basically how this tree was treated last summer and it is covered with these long shoots with buds only at the ends. I'd add 'if the first internode is long, cut back near the base instead of first pair.'


I will have to try to pinch better this coming spring to try to avoid these long nodes. Either pinch new shoots as they unfold or cut off shoots with long internodes as soon as I see them in spring - the secondary shoots that result should have less strength and shorter nodes. :fc:

So here it is after trimming all the long and strong shoots.
AP long internodes 4.JPG

A few people have already proposed the next step but if you have not yet put in your :2c: feel free.
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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby MoGanic » June 17th, 2013, 8:34 pm

Lovely work mate.

The tree gives a good character already and with ramification will make a great tree.
There are many ways to do things, but only one "best" way.
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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby shibui » June 20th, 2013, 9:39 pm

The next step for me in winter pruning is thinning areas where there are many buds. I note that Grant is using the term 2x2 branching. I've been talking about V forks but it all means the same thing.

Here is a typical fork in species with opposite buds like Japanese maple.
ap prune multi shoots 2013 2.JPG
Remove any of the 3 to leave only the best 2. I often take out the centre shoot to give the branch movement.

Everyone knows the term 'bar branch'. This is just another of these forks but on the trunk.
ap prune multi shoots 2013 4.JPG

Wherever possible remove 1 of the branches to prevent trunk thickening
ap prune multi shoots 2013 5.JPG


Japanese maples are notorious for developing multiple shoots after pruning, especially at the tips of branches. Here's an example.
ap prune multi shoots 2013 1.JPG
Leaving these will make the tips of the branches thick and knobby so remove most of the shoots as soon as you can to keep branches tapered and fine. This is the tip of the left trunk. I did not get a close shot of it after pruning but you can see the 'after' on the next pic.

After thinning multi shoots.
ap prune multi shoots 2013 6.JPG


One last pruning job before we look at the overall appearance and maybe make some changes to the main branches and/or trunks.......
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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby Boics » June 21st, 2013, 9:09 am

Thanks for detailing all this work Shibui.

It makes for very good reading and learning.

My query is regarding trunk chops and heavy pruning.
I've read differing views on when the most applicable time may be for deciduous tree's.
The main consensus from memory is just before Spring. I note you are doing this work in early winter so hence my query...

Can you please provide your 2c as to when you think this should be carried out for deciduous tree's and maples in particular?

Thanks,
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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby Scott Roxburgh » June 21st, 2013, 11:39 am

Do you have a problem with Acer Palmatum bleeding when cut at this time of year?
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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby shibui » June 21st, 2013, 8:48 pm

Boics, I actually find it better to prune maples early in winter. They do ooze a little bit of sap if cut now but when I prune just before budding it seems to be far worse. At times when I have had a tree bleeding badly I have rootpruned and it seems to stop immediately. If I have not pruned early in winter I do it after the leaves have hardened, later in spring or summer when they heal quickest.
I suppose there is a slightly higher chance of infection getting in through the wounds over winter but I don't think I have experienced that. I do seal larger cuts because they heal better if sealed so that probably helps to prevent infection as does plenty of fresh air and sunshine.
I sometimes have trouble (with fungal infection) when I rootprune Japanese maples this early but not tridents.
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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby Neli » June 21st, 2013, 10:51 pm

Hi Neil,
I have a question for you.
I can see some of the internodes on Your leaders are long.
How can that be avoided with palmatum, which has natural tendencies for long internodes.
Can the same system as for the branches be used on the leaders? Like keep pinching chopping the internodes, until you have long enough section ( as long as you need it with short internodes), and then let it grow the rest without interruptions, in order to thicken that section of the leader.
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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby shibui » June 22nd, 2013, 6:33 pm

Neli,
Long internodes on the lower part of the trunks will not matter because the branches need to be further apart low on the trunk. Because the branches should be closer together toward the tops the nodes need to be closer up there. Ideally you would cut off all long internodes, even when the trunks are developing and only use the shoots with shorter nodes to grow the trunks. The reality is we often develop our trees too quickly from less than ideal growth and hope it will be ok. That is one of the points I have been trying to get across in this thread.
Unfortunately I can't see an appropriate spot to cut the main trunks back to that would improve taper, movement, etc so may have to make the best of what I have but with living things there is always hope.... We will seee what ideas others have to offer later.

I am still experimenting with timing and technique to produce shoots with shorter internodes. The Japanese nip out the growing tips before the leaves open to stop internode extension but that is painstaking work on any larger tree and doesn't always achieve the desired results. I'm hoping that allowing the strong, spring shoots to grow a bit then pruning at the base will force new shoots with shorter nodes - a bit like pine maintenance pruning - but too early to say whether that is effective.
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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby Neli » June 22nd, 2013, 9:59 pm

Thanks Neil!
If the principle of Brent from Evergreen garden works (the one he explains), is used, and if the first flush is let to grow to exhaust the energy of the tree,stored the previous year, and then chopped and allowed to grow again, it should be expected shorter internodes, in principle, and any subsequent cut should have shorter internodes. It slows the process, but then You get a better bonsai.
Thanks.
Someone I know nips the bud after one internode,and cuts the leaf in Half or less. and when the two shoots come nips it again ...I dont know how the results will be, but I think it is similar to the Japanese.
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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby shibui » June 23rd, 2013, 8:24 pm

The final procedure I usually do in winter pruning is to thin crowded twigs on the branches. It is important to give all the twigs plenty of room. Not only does it look good but without space and light the twigs will become weak and may even die leaving bare areas in the interior of branches.
This tree only has 1 real branch so not much to do on this one but that branch is getting a bit crowded and twigs starting to cross each other.
ap thin crowded twigs 1.JPG
ap thin crowded twigs 2.JPG


There was also a couple of stubs left where I cut off branches last year so they need to be reduced so they will heal over without leaving large lumps.
ap prune stubs 1.JPG
ap prune stubs 2.JPG


Next we look at the overall shape and branch/trunk placement.
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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby Watto » June 23rd, 2013, 8:31 pm

Very interesting article, thanks for the trouble and time taken to present it to us.
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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby shibui » June 30th, 2013, 7:57 pm

Now that all the pruning is done and we can see the tree a bit better you might like to have a look at the overall shape of this tree and suggest possible improvements. Here are some pics that might help.
AP large 1013 6 current front.JPG
AP large 1013 6 left side.JPG
AP large 1013 6 back.JPG
AP large 1013 6 right side.JPG

I'm happy to listen to any constructive criticism, suggestions or ideas.
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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby Neli » June 30th, 2013, 8:22 pm

I like this tree so much!
For what it is worth, at list to practice...This is what I would have done:
Looking at the front:
From left to right:
Are the first and last trunks or branches? If They are trunks I might turn the first into a branch and remove the last one.
I also might remove trunk No4...
From the back picture:
Trunk 2 looks like it splits into 2 trunks, I think I would remove one of them, or leave it as a sacrifice branch.
I dont like that very straight section on the tallest trunk.
On trunk five I might cut the apex and leave that big branch as new apex...
Just a newb here...Maybe you can tell me where I went wrong.
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Re: Acer palmatum development pruning

Postby fredman » May 29th, 2014, 2:37 pm

How come this great thread died? :shock:
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