Styling a
Japanese maple

Making a big trunk chop and wiring

Learn how to make a Maple bonsai tree! In this article and video we show you how to make a trunk-chop, prune and wire a Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum).

Bonsai can be created in many different ways, from seeds for example, or by buying a ready-made Bonsai in an online store. Another way is to purchase nursery stock (from a Bonsai retailer or garden center if you are lucky) that has Bonsai potential. By applying techniques like pruning, wiring and repotting you can turn that nursery stock into a nice looking Bonsai tree!

In this article we show the steps we took to make a Bonsai from a nice looking Japanese maple - one with great potential and hence a price tag of around $150 USD.

This was the first step in the development of this tree to a Bonsai, and it will take several years until it will be ready. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see the progression of this tree over the years!

Make a Maple Bonsai
This tree is a Japanese maple, also known as the Acer palmatum. I think it about 10 to 15 years old. In this article we are going to style it, which means we are going to prune some of the branches and do a bit of wiring to set the branches in position. As you can see the trunk is long and quite straight. We will cut off about half the length of the trunk, and then create a new apex. The new apex will need a few years to develop, so today's styling is just one step in the process.
Make a Maple Bonsai
To cut off the top of the tree we use a very sharp saw. Try to make a clean, straight cut.
Make a Maple Bonsai
As you can also see, we took off the top - but we left behind almost an inch (or two centimeters) of the trunk, because that will dry in over time and die off.
Make a Maple Bonsai
So in the next early spring, this tree will react to the big cut that we made by growing a lot of new shoots and branches.
Make a Maple Bonsai
Especially the new apex (the wired vertical branch here) will start to grow a lot, and that is important because this will need to thicken out over time.
Make a Maple Bonsai
As always, we try to select pairs of branches that are more or less the same thickness, and wire these with one piece of wire. Start with wiring the main branches, and slowly work your way up the tree. Smaller, thinner branches, need a thinner wire as well.
Make a Maple Bonsai
It will take at least five years from now until the apex and branches will have developed enough to match the thickness of the trunk.

How to make a Japanese Maple Bonsai (video tutorial)

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