Maple newbie looking for some guidance on shaping

Discussion in 'Maples' started by MapleSyrup, Apr 17, 2015.

  1. MapleSyrup

    MapleSyrup Member

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    Hi all!

    I have been reading this forum for a while and have benefited tremendously from the advice,experience, and collective wisdom of all the passionate Maple collectors here, especially when it came to picking out cultivars.

    Over the last 2 years, I have picked out around 15 cultivars, mostly 2 year grafts.
    (Aureum, Seiryu, Peve Multicolor, Ukigumo, Olsens frosted Strawberry, Villa Taranto, Hana Matoi, Filigree, Peve Stanley, Rainbow, Summer Gold, Aekans Ie's, Shigitatsu Sawa, Amagi Shigure, Geisha, Koto No Ito)

    I am very pleased with them, but I have become aware of the need for some shaping/pruning of some of them. I have seen many mature trees with beautiful shapely trunks, and feel there is a not insignificant difference in appeal between one left to its own devices, and to one grown with thoughtful pruning. If I am to grow these for many decades to come, I believe it is worth the investment of time now.

    The problem is, I have no experience with this.
    For example, how are those single trunk (for the first 5 feet) trees shaped? Do I simply train one leader upwards, and constantly pull off any side branches until it reaches desired height? (My summer gold looks to be achieving that shape)
    What about uneven graft unions - do I hack away at the dead overlap or will it die back naturally? (on my Aureum you can see extra dead wood on the side of the graft) And if I wish to achieve a multi trunk symmetrical look what do I need to do for example to my peve stanley which doesnt have the nicest form? [To get it to look like my peve multicolor which I love the shape of - it'll be peeved if its uglier :) ]

    Also, my seiryu looks to be green when i scrape the branches, but the buds have not yet swelled while all my others have, and its my strongest grower. What could be wrong? I attached 3 pics of it.

    Any and all advice or tips would be very much appreciated.
     

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  2. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    First, Welcome! Second, great choices in trees. :) Where did you get your trees from? They look quite nice, as far as quality. I won't comment on pruning, as I am a novice at this - there are others who are much better qualified to help you in that regard than I.

    As for your Seiryu, you've come through a long, cold winter; did you have the trees outside or in? For me, Seiryu was a bit later to wake up (though mine's a large, planted tree in a fairly exposed location here in Kansas) than many of my others. The bark looks good, as do the buds, so I wouldn't worry. Once you get a week or so of nice warm weather, I'm sure it will just take off. My Murakumo, also larger in the ground, just started leafing out earlier this week, and all my other trees are either done or nearly done - some just like to take their time, lol.
     
  3. emery

    emery Renowned Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hi Syrup, my dad is in the city so I know it's been a cold winter, I agree that the seiryu looks OK.

    I never prune trees until the graft has completely healed, unless there's something blatantly going the wrong direction, on the theory that the tree isn't strong and needs all the nourishment from the leaves that it can get. So most of these I'd not touch for now.

    For some of the others, first decide what you want. If it's an upright tree, then low side laterals need to come off each year, the same as pruning any deciduous tree for an upright shape. My sense with these laterals is that the earlier they come off, e.g. the scrubby low laterals on Peve Multicolor, the better it is, because there is less of a scar for the tree to heal; but the trick with Japanese maples is that you don't want to weaken the plant too much too early which will leave it susceptible to disease. So the large left-pointing lateral on seiryu may need to wait to come off.

    Once the general direction is established, the upright or spreading trees do "self-prune", internal branching will die off naturally as the tree gets bigger, so they form a very elegant structure when left on their own. Only the dissected forms require real pruning/training to make a larger mound in a reasonable time. So I pretty much just remove crossing branches and let nature do the rest. YMMV as taste does! Some folks take a very interventionist approach which to my taste ends up looking a little "poodle-clipped" or "big bonsai" :) and is not very relaxing to the eye; but then again I don't for example care much for "cloud pruning" whereas many swear by it. (My wife loves the look of cloud pruned trees when she sees them in other people's gardens.) So again it comes down to what kind of form you want to end up with.

    cheers and welcome to the forum,

    -Emery
     
  4. MapleSyrup

    MapleSyrup Member

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    Maplesandpaws - thanks for the good news on the seiryu, would've hated to start again with a graft size. Most of my maples have come from Acer1987 on eBay, the rest from Diana from Topiary Gardens, except for the rainbow and Peve Multicolor which came from maplestoneornamentals. (That was my best buy - it was very hard to find at the time, and he sent a beautifully shaped tree for a very reasonable price - I think it was around $50) In general I have had very good luck with ordering online. Diana especially has been very helpful.

    Emery- Thank you. great tip on pruning them young to avoid scars. Cloud pruned trees do sound cool! But lots of effort too.
    Are you in favor of single trunked maples, or do you find them to be unnatural?
     
  5. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    Love Diana! :) Most of my trees have come from her as well; excellent quality, good size, and great prices. I've gotten a few from Micah as well in the past, but as I've been trying to buy larger trees lately, I haven't been buying from him as much since most of his stock tends to be smaller. Lucile at Whitman Farms is also another great source for quality, well-priced (and sized) trees.
     
  6. emery

    emery Renowned Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    I like single trunk trees and have many maples in this form, even a couple of buergerianums. Excepting a solitaire (high graft on a single trunk) 'Pink Filigree' I can't think of single trunk palmatums, and the reason is twofold. First most of them don't tend to grow this way if left alone.

    But the main reason is the way in which most JMs are brought to market by the nurseries. In order to gain size rapidly central leaders are cut hard which encourages vigorous branching growth. If the nursery keeps the tree another year, these side branches are also cut back, and so on. In this way the multi-branched tree gains height very rapidly; but it's quite difficult to get it back to a single trunk if that is what is desired, unfortunately. Also the narrow 'V's that result are very breakable in snow or ice storms...
     

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