Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Do you remember this tree? It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about this Trident Maple. For the most part, I’ve been posting about my other Trident Maple Project that’s not on a rock. This picture was taken back in April and it was the final result of a much-needed repot, some branch removal and wound management. I set it outside in the warm Spring sun but unfortunately because of the repot, the tree took some time to really start pushing strongly. The tree hasn’t been repotted for about 10 years according to Mr. Tanaka so anytime you dig into roots like that, it’s going to stress the tree heavily. So while I was working on my other project trees this Trident was allowed to grow during the rest of the Spring and most of the Summer. I fertilized the tree lightly till it started to pick up again and that’s when I gave it all the food it would take. The tree started to grow very well during the Summer and at about the end of August, I felt the tree was strong enough to be worked again.
I should have gotten this post out much earlier so I do apologize for the delay. Being home for most of September and getting back in the mode of the apprenticeship has taken up much of my time of late. I guess it’s better late than never so here it is. The first update of this root over rock Trident maple project!
To Your Health!
Health is priority #1 in Bonsai. If the tree isn’t healthy, it’s not going to respond to the work that we do to it. Since the tree was slow to grow during the Spring and early Summer, I let everything on the tree go so that it can regain its vigor. If I had started stressing the tree too early by cutting or defoliating, I may have lost many branches or even the whole tree. Sometimes we just have to forget about the tree for a while and let it run wild! As you can see above, a strong growing tree is the result.
With all the new growth on this tree, it’s definitely time to cut some new shoots back. Shoots that are usable as new branches are wired while others that are too thick are cut off completely. Here are some examples of things we did.
One basic horticultural concept to understand in Bonsai is that when a tree decides to make a branch a new leader, it will take food away from the surrounding branches. Trees always want to grow bigger when they are small and young. Usually these branches are the ones that seem to thicken faster than other branches and are usually growing straight up. We have to be careful with these branches because even if we try to control it by cutting it back, the tree may respond by back-budding on that same branch and creating a new stronger leader.
What I found on deciduous trees is that if these strong leaders start to form, it’s best to cut them off completely and develop the moderate or medium strength branches instead. This will keep the growth of the branches balanced and actually make it easier for us to develop our bonsai.
Okay, if you still can’t see it, look at where my middle finger is. See how the small thin branch is gone? So why do you think I cut this branch off? I mean, it’s small and a back bud right?
The reason why I cut this particular back bud off is because if I allowed it to grow, it would produce a third branch in the middle of two already usable branches. Now if one of the two larger branches were unusable, then I would have kept the small new branch and cut off the bad branch. So instead of allow the little branch to grow and taking up food, it can now be directed at a different branch that is being developed.
*another side note*
Anytime you cut off a large older branch to promote back budding and the only place it buds back is at the base of the branch, that automatically tells you that the tree would rather grow a new branch instead of back budding on the old branch. In that case, it’s time to remove the old and use the new.
Perhaps some of you are wondering, why not cut to the smaller branches further back? That is a good question! The reason why is because I want the thickness and length of this branch. If I cut the branch too far back, there would be a short internode on such a thick branch. That would not look very natural at all.
Good for you Matej and congratulations!
It’s now close to the end of October and the tree has completely leafed out. Once the weather started to cool down, I placed the tree out in the full sun again to allow it to build up more strength. The next time we work on this tree will be in late November when the leaves start to turn. At that time, I will remove the leaves, remove the wire and do some light pruning. This tree still has a ways to go but we’ll keep at it and continue to show its progression in the coming years!
Thanks for coming along for the ride!
Coming up next!