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TOPIC: Japanese Maple Sapling Question

Japanese Maple Sapling Question 1 year 3 months ago #29349

I just purchased a Japanese Maple of the Shishio Hime variant, about one year old and some twelve inches tall. She's maybe 1/8" thick at the graft, half that higher up where the branches start. She's still dormant, naturally, and will probably remain as such for at least another couple of months given that I'm in the Detroit area of Michigan.

My question is, should I try to air layer this year, or should I try to get some more thickness out of her first? It strikes me that I should wait until later in the season, when her sap has flowed and her leaves are out, as well. I'm keen on reducing her height and eliminating this awful graft scar. The height is of secondary concern; I'll take a big, healthy, good-looking plant over a sickly little dead twig.

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  • Solaris
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Japanese Maple Sapling Question 1 year 3 months ago #29350

Plant and forget for a decade. Then you have a trunk that you can work with. I would layer after a few years. First let it grow some mass.
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Japanese Maple Sapling Question 1 year 3 months ago #29377

That's what I was thinking when I saw how twiggy and lanky the thing was, and how all references to air layering were talking about using branches an inch or so in diameter rather than millimeter diameters. If it were something like a Ficus or another nigh-unkillable weed I'm pretty used to growing I'd have had a go at it, but this is my first JM and it seemed wise to check with other people before I wasted a plant.

Aside from putting some earthworm castings in the soil to encourage foliage and branch growth, is there anything I ought to be doing to help facilitate the trunk's development? I'm concerned about an excess of vertical growth. Although this is a dwarf variant, wouldn't growing for ten years result in a plant that's a bit bigger than the typical bonsai?
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Japanese Maple Sapling Question 1 year 3 months ago #29379

Solaris wrote: Although this is a dwarf variant, wouldn't growing for ten years result in a plant that's a bit bigger than the typical bonsai?


Probably. But bonsai is not the art of keeping saplings small, it's the art of reduction.

Grow a trunk first. Look it up, there are several articles about it - one of 'm on this site.
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Japanese Maple Sapling Question 1 year 3 months ago #29390

I'd wait at LEAST a year or two to see if the plant makes it first.... I made a mistake of "rushing" about 50 jap maples that i grew from seed. Needless to say, not one made it through the first year with my fertilizing, repotting constantly moving it around and what not. Then the few survivors were eaten by my puppy.

I've learned japanese maples are some of the hardest most finicky plants to get to thrive. Too much sun vs too much shade vs not enough nutrients vs etc etc... Of course I only have done it for a year or two
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Japanese Maple Sapling Question 1 year 3 months ago #29405

TulsaBonsai wrote: I've learned japanese maples are some of the hardest most finicky plants to get to thrive. Too much sun vs too much shade vs not enough nutrients vs etc etc... Of course I only have done it for a year or two


Suppose this is different for everybody. I do not get any more pines, as these always die on me..
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Japanese Maple Sapling Question 1 year 3 months ago #29462

What I'm getting out of this is "leave her the heck alone," which rather appeals to my lazy side.
Planting it in the ground isn't an option for me now, but I've put her in a decent-sized pot. If she lives out the season, I'll put her in a bigger one next year.
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