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Rebuilding a Japanese Maple

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

Now that all the defoliating has been done to the refined trees here at Aichien, it was time to work on the project trees.  This time, Mr. Tanaka tasked me with this large Japanese maple that is being redeveloped.  All the branches growing on the tree have been grafted with a better leaf quality.  The tree was allowed to grow during the Spring and now that Summer is right around the corner, this was a good time to continue it’s development.  The goal at this point is to wire the new branches and graft three areas that need branches.  In this post, I will talk about the grafting technique I used, wound management and a hint about defoliating.

What is Approach Grafting ? and Some Terms

Approach grafting is pretty much using two self sustaining branches and fusing them together.  In this case, I’m going to take some of the long branches from one part of this tree and attaching it to another part of the tree.  The nice thing about approach grafting is that both branches are still being feed so there isn’t any water flow cut off. The chances of a successful union are much higher and reliable with an approach graft.

The best time to do an approach graft is during the growing season.

Here are a few terms that I will use to explain the approach graft operation:

Scion– The new branch I used for grafting

Stock– The branch I’m grafting on to

Graft union– the point where the Scion and Stock are attached.

Lets Get to Work!

One importuning thing that people don’t really talk about is the hard surface that a callus needs to grow on.  In this case, the surface is the hard wood.  Sometimes, this hardwood can be soft or rotted out because of exposure to water or humidity.  If that was the case on this tree, the callus will grow slightly and stop.  If we find a deciduous tree that has a rotted out wound, we would have to dig the rotted wood out and fill it with a hard putty or cement to give the callus a firm surface to form on.  Luckily, this time, the hard wood is still hard.

On With the Grafting!

Here’s Another Example

Also note how short the internode between the graft union and the first node of the scion branch is.  We need to take into consideration the internode lengths when placing the graft because we don’t want to do all this work just to find out the grafted branch internode is too long later.

Some of you might be wondering, “where can I find those nails with the rubber on them?”  Me and several people have tried finding these nail in the US with no luck.  They seem to only be available in Japan.  They are mainly used to nail boards onto a frame and come in various lengths and thickness.  For the time being, it looks like if we’re going to use these nails for approach grafting, we either have to make them ourselves import it from Japan.  If you the reader knows of a local place to get it, please share it with everybody in the comment section below.  You would be doing me and everybody else a favor!

Defoliating Maples

In Bonsai, we hear the word defoliate many times, especially with maples.  Defoliating a maple is pretty much the removal of all the leaves during the growing period.  Note how the Maple I just worked on was not defoliated.  Defoliation seems to be talked about so much that if people don’t defoliate their trees, they feel that they’re missing something very important when perhaps their tree doesn’t need it.  Though defoliation is a great technique when used properly, we have to realize when and when not to use it.  In my next post, I will talk more in depth about the concept of defoliation and the desired results of it.  In the mean time, think about the reasons for defoliation and when it should and should not be done.  Once you’ve pooled your thoughts together about defoliating, we’ll meet back here and I’ll share with you my thoughts on the technique and its uses.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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