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Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 6th, 2020, 8:17 pm
by legoman_iac
Hey all,

Some exciting news! Looks like I've got the green light to take my parents trident maple. The tree was in a giant pot about 10 years ago, before I was into bonsai. The tree was struggling (root bound) so the gardener put it in the ground. Since then, it's bounced back, is about 4m tall, split trunk about 1m off the ground. The trunk is about 4 inches thick.

Looks like I'll be able to dig it up and take it. Realise it's a bit risky, and ideally would have severed the roots months ago. Going to see if the gardener will help me move it, definitely 2 person job.

So thinking:
- shovel down a foot?
- truck chop onsite, lightly or lots?
- place it on a tray/milk create type container?
- keep it in a sunny spot, or shaded for a few weeks?

Have some old photos I can dig up. Looking to do this in a few weeks. Keen to hear if anyone has done something similar, traps to watch out for, tips, etc??

Thanks,
Daniel

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 6th, 2020, 8:38 pm
by shibui
Tridents are incredibly resilient. I always cut roots quite short and they grow new roots from the cut ends. No real point leaving long roots because they grow so well from shorter ones and you will just have to cut long roots some time in future.
At this time of year they can go straight into full sun after repot. My transplants went onto the nursery benches today into full sun.
Trunk chop is debatable. It will definitely need a chop because who wants a 2 m tall bonsai but sometimes really large chops on older trunks can cause part of the trunk and occasionally some roots below to die. Possibly better to cut a bit higher this year and hope for plenty of shoots which you an cut back to in future.
From your description of the size I think you are way underestimating pot size at milk crate. From experience I think you will need something at least 5 times the size of the trunk at ground level. Collected trees always seem to be much larger than our initial estimation and also weigh twice as much as you expected.
Maple roots are very hard. This one will probably have a few quite thick ones so you will need a saw or an axe to cut them I think. Dirt is lethal for saw blades so don't use a good one unless you don't want to use it again. Reciprocating saws are great for cutting thick roots and just change the blade when it gets dull. Portable, batter power saw is really good and small enough to get under the trunk to cut any down growing roots.
Almost impossible to guess how far down you will need to go. I would only go down far enough to get some good lateral roots. Anything past that is a waste of time and effort as you will only cut them off. The shallower the better for your eventual bonsai. Tridents normally have good lateral roots close to the surface so I hope you won't need to go too deep. You will need to dig down far enough to get under the trunk to cut any down roots so your hole will probably end up a foot or more deep even though you will only end up with 10 or 15 cm deep roots.

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 6th, 2020, 10:56 pm
by legoman_iac
Thanks for the great notes and pearls of wisdom Shibui! At this stage looking to do this in a few weeks, may be in full leaf by then, do you think still safe to transplant even then?

Great to know, re: suggested trunk chop. Can handle 2m for now, then eventually down from there. And 10-15cm root depth now, interesting!

Haha, ok, not milk create, bigger, might be in something temp for a year, hand made, with super drainage?

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 7th, 2020, 7:29 pm
by shibui
It is not recommended to root prune maples when they have leaves but tridents are tough. I have transplanted some younger ones just to test. Most drop the leaves but then bud up again a few weeks later. Not sure how a larger trident will cope with massive root reduction when it has leaves but I will be interested to see the results.

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 13th, 2020, 2:32 pm
by legoman_iac
Quick update: went and took some photos today, tree is looking good in general, through some upper branches seem a bit "damaged". BElow is a photo, with approx heights (judged by the background bricks). Then "Stage 1" is my understanding of what to chop back, stage 2, provided it survives, long term goal.

Keen to hear if I'm on the right track, good about of chopping, etc?

Image

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 15th, 2020, 12:35 pm
by legoman_iac
Also open to other styling suggestions, stage 2 is just an initial thought.

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 15th, 2020, 1:07 pm
by kcpoole
give it a go and see how it looks and reshoots.

try not to worry too much re stage 2 now, jsut let it recover

Ken

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 15th, 2020, 1:22 pm
by Matt S
I'd cut it somewhere above the 0.7m mark, then as Ken says wait and see what happens. The tree will make some design decisions for you! Good luck, Tridents are a great species to work with.

Matt.

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 15th, 2020, 2:04 pm
by legoman_iac
Haha, good point ... the tree is in charge, not me! Keen to see where it shoots new growth. Just above the 0.7m seems a bit too much, no? Also thinking I could do some air layers before cutting it right down to size. Managed some air layers before from this tree, though would wait until it recovers.

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 15th, 2020, 4:30 pm
by shibui
I'm not sure what stage 1 is about? Is the aim just to get some new roots? Why the part canopy reduction?
:imo: the 5 times trunk diameter root reduction still leaves the roots far too long. To get into a bonsai pot this will need surface roots that are less than 3 trunk diameters right across - that means only 1 trunk thickness out from the edge of the trunk in all directions.
Tridents are one of the most resilient species we use. I would just combine the 2 stages and save a year. Cut the top right back to wherever you think appropriate and cut all the surface roots short then stand back and let it grow next season before the final dig next spring. When you cut the top need to allow for regrowth. Cutting at 0.7 m as indicated will probably result in a finished tree over 1 m tall. Measure that somewhere to get a full understanding of the real size of such a bonsai. It will certainly be in the large category and probably won't fit in many cars at that size.
Consider cutting even lower. In your virts the second part of the trunk is the same, maybe a little longer than the lower part. It would look lots better if the second section was shorter than the lower part so consider cutting it about half as long as the lower part.

Is that something white on the trunk or just a figment of the photo?

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 15th, 2020, 8:57 pm
by legoman_iac
Sorry for the confusion, I misunderstood some parts.

Ok, so I won't bother with a 2 stage approach, just cut it how I want it. However it needs to come this year, parents are looking to sell up over the next few months, hence the successful claim to the tree! I can't just severe the roots and leave it till next year to transplant, does this change anything?

Also, shibui, not sure what you meant by "2 virts, make 2nd one shorter'. I'll mock it up and post a pic tomorrow.

Re: white spot, that's just the Sun light on the trunk.

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 15th, 2020, 11:11 pm
by shibui
If it has to come out this year then get it right down. I find the best time to reduce roots is when you first dig because you can also reduce the trunk to suit.
Leave the trunk a bit longer while you do the dig. It will help to have some length as a lever to move the root ball from side to side while you cut roots.
Get it out of the ground then remove as much garden soil as you can without damaging the roots closer to the trunk. Cut all side roots clean at about 1 trunk diameter long. Any down roots can be cut close to the trunk.
This one is a plum but the pruning will be similar
IMGP8714.JPG
Then cut the trunk to size and pot it up.
Provide the best care you can and cross fingers.

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 16th, 2020, 8:13 am
by nozila
I would personally just trunk chop it to as low as seen in the last pic.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 16th, 2020, 10:17 am
by legoman_iac
What a learning curve!!!

Amazing that any tree can recover from such a reduction in branches and roots! Where does it get the energy and strength to grow new shoots without roots?

I think I'm understanding, but will post a new pic tomorrow to confirm.

TL;DR use shovel, cut roots, use long truck as Archimedes would to move the root ball, trim roots back, trunk chop, pot ... extra care and attention and cross fingers?

Re: Trident transplant (ground to pot)

Posted: August 17th, 2020, 4:25 pm
by legoman_iac
Ok, so I've mocked up how I envision the day will go ... as below:

Image