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TOPIC: Trident Maple Pruning

Trident Maple Pruning 6 days 3 hours ago #51253

Hi All,

I'm new to the Bonsai community and recently purchased a beautiful Trident Maple. I wanted to do some maintenance / pruning on it but I'm hesitant since I have no experience at all. I'm hoping I can get a bit of guidance on what to do from more experienced bonsai hobbyists. I've attached a picture of the overall tree and a picture where I highlighted some areas where I have questions. Hopefully the pictures will turn out alright since I really had to shrink the size to get it under the 1 MB limit.

The questions I hope to receive guidance on are as follows (questions are number in accordance with the numbers in the second pictures):

1) A small branch is growing which intersects a larger branch above it. I was thinking to cut the smaller branch off so the branches don't cross. Would this be the correct approach or should I instead try to wire it to point in a different direction?

2) There's a small branch sticking straight up from the trunk of the tree without any foliage on it. Since it's so small I was thinking to cut it off fairly close to the trunk of the tree. I shouldn't be concerned with any die back right? I assume die back only occurs if large branches are cut off.

3) A small sprout is growing on the lowest branch on the left side of the tree. Should I remove this or let it grow out? If I'm to remove it, can I just rip it out with my fingers or should I wait for it to grow out some more and cut it with scissors?

4) The branch labelled 4 is wired in a way that the branch first goes up and slopes down. Should I leave the branch as is or point it up slightly at the end to make it look fuller?

I just plan to do those minor cuts and prune off some leaves to promote growth. Since I just recently purchased this tree, I'll let it grow more and get fuller before doing anything too drastic.

A few general questions I have are: To prune leaves, is it best to pinch them off or cut them off with scissors? I believe I should be leaving the stem instead of removing the stems right? Finally, how does one know when the wiring on the branches are ready to be removed? I'm not sure how long they've been on the tree.

Thanks in advance and I'm excited to be starting a new hobby! =]

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  • seeparks
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Trident Maple Pruning 5 days 12 hours ago #51261

If this was mine I would plant in the ground for three years. I did this with one and it grew so fast it was incredible. The trunk is quite thin for the height of the tree, and a thicker trunk would make a big difference.I would let it grow unchecked, and then after about three years cut down hard. But it is your tree,
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Trident Maple Pruning 5 days 4 hours ago #51268

m5eaygeoff wrote: If this was mine I would plant in the ground for three years. I did this with one and it grew so fast it was incredible. The trunk is quite thin for the height of the tree, and a thicker trunk would make a big difference.I would let it grow unchecked, and then after about three years cut down hard. But it is your tree,


Since I'm really new to Bonsais, I don't feel that comfortable cutting major branches let alone trunk chopping a tree. For this Trident Maple, I just want to maintain its look and prune it to get more / fuller foliage. I plan to get some cheaper Bonsais to experiment with trunk chopping and pruning to get more comfortable working with Bonsais. Perhaps I should've started with a cheaper tree so I wouldn't feel as bad if I made mistakes. I saw a few cheap Bonsai plants at Rona and Home Depot which I may pick up this weekend to experiment.

Today I ended up cutting off a few branches towards the back of the tree that were intersecting, removing the small upward pointing branch, and removing the small sprout that was growing near the lowest branch on the left of the tree. I also wired two branches on the right side of the tree to get them to point more outwards so they wouldn't hit other branches; this also helped achieve a fuller looking tree. I'm pretty sure I didn't wire them correctly but it was a good learning experience since it was my first time. Now I'll have to research how to stimulate the tree to produce more foliage.

BTW, can anyone share any advice on how to deal with the branch in front circled in red? It's growing upwards and intersecting with a much larger branch. Should I try to wire it or simply cut it off? I've attached pictures of both the front and back of the tree. The two branches I've wired so far are circled in blue.

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  • seeparks
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Trident Maple Pruning 4 days 23 hours ago #51271

My advice would be to do nothing at all. First of all you do not know what you are doing, second .. well ther are so many seconds that I don't know where to start..
- wait till the leafs are gone , you will see the branch structure much better
- use the time till then to study
- give your tree to he time to recover the transport
- learn first how to keep your tree alive ( watering)
- give yourself the time to look at your tree from different angles, and when you have done that start over
- shouldn't it have been better to start with cheaper trees in the first place?
- bonsai is a marathon, not a sprint!
- concerning the tree: if you don't want to do a trunk chop you have to make sure the trunk becomes a lot fatter. You do that by letting the lower branches grow freely ( as in a meter or so)
Hope this helps a bit
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Trident Maple Pruning 4 days 17 hours ago #51274

lucR wrote: My advice would be to do nothing at all. First of all you do not know what you are doing, second .. well ther are so many seconds that I don't know where to start..
- wait till the leafs are gone , you will see the branch structure much better
- use the time till then to study
- give your tree to he time to recover the transport
- learn first how to keep your tree alive ( watering)
- give yourself the time to look at your tree from different angles, and when you have done that start over
- shouldn't it have been better to start with cheaper trees in the first place?
- bonsai is a marathon, not a sprint!
- concerning the tree: if you don't want to do a trunk chop you have to make sure the trunk becomes a lot fatter. You do that by letting the lower branches grow freely ( as in a meter or so)
Hope this helps a bit


I agree with your overall advice and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I don’t want to do anything major to the tree and I’m reading up on Trident Maple care in addition to watching Bonsai videos on YouTube. I did watch videos where it was explained how to increase trunk size by letting the lower branches grow out (as you mentioned), trunk chopping, or piercing the trunk.

I did also mention in my previous post that I should’ve bought an easier and less expensive tree to take care of first before jumping on the Maple. It was more of an impulse buy since the tree looked so beautiful; live and learn I guess. I plan on purchasing a few more common Bonsai plants today to experiment and learn. If I end up with a few more Bonsais I’ll make a new threat somewhere and attach pictures.

Thanks for the advice.
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Trident Maple Pruning 4 days 14 hours ago #51275

I would wait till winter. Then you can tell the branch structure much better. I think that 1 is the wrong way around in reasoning.

Leave the small branch at the bottom.
You can rmove a dead branch, but could wait too.

I would focus on health. In anything the top is too dense praying on the strength of the lower bramches which are at risk of decline.
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Trident Maple Pruning 4 days 8 hours ago #51297

leatherback wrote: I would wait till winter. Then you can tell the branch structure much better. I think that 1 is the wrong way around in reasoning.

Leave the small branch at the bottom.
You can rmove a dead branch, but could wait too.

I would focus on health. In anything the top is too dense praying on the strength of the lower bramches which are at risk of decline.



I'm taking the advice and just leaving the tree alone for the rest of this season focusing on its health. I'll do some more research and may work on the tree the beginning of next season. I'll also try to keep the foliage lighter on top to let the branches and leaves near the bottom grow out.

I picked up two cheaper Bonsais on the way home today. They seem pretty nice, at least to the untrained eye. I'm not exactly sure what they are since the tag simply stated "Bonsai". Looks to me like a Privet and a Fukien Tea?? I've attached a picture showing both the new plants. I'm pretty excited starting this hobby; hopefully I don't end up killing them.

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  • seeparks
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Trident Maple Pruning 3 days 11 hours ago #51347

Fig/ficus, not privet
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Trident Maple Pruning 3 days 10 hours ago #51352

... dear seeparks, google the term mallsai...
I know you are enthusiastic about everything in a bonsai pot, labelled bonsai but you should really take a few steps back. Buy some ordinary native trees from your local nursery ( will cost you nothing compared to everything you buy labelled bonsai) and keep them alive. During mastering the art of keeping them alive study the bonsai basics, and slowly practice some basics like repotting - pruning- fertilising-.... Doing that you will better understand what bonsai is about.
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Trident Maple Pruning 3 days 5 hours ago #51363

leatherback wrote: Fig/ficus, not privet


Thanks for helping me ID it leatherback!
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