Pompom on a stick

Discussion in 'Maples' started by maplesandpaws, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    Well, at least that's what I think it looks like - kind of. I have a really pretty Ueno yama (see attached), but as you can see, it's very tall and top heavy. I have already had to do one emergency repot a week ago - wind blew it over and all the soil fell out; luckily I noticed quite soon after it happened so the roots didn't dry out much, if at all. I almost had to do another one a couple of days ago, but thankfully 3/4 of the soil stayed in the pot this time, so I just had to top it off.

    My question is, how far can/should I cut it back to (hopefully) induce some back-budding lower down on the trunk? Or will cutting it back induce back-budding? If it will, when would be the best time to do this (I'm thinking June-ish?)?

    From the picture of the bare tree, you can see that there are 3 branches coming off the trunk at about the same height; should I cut it off an inch or so above these branches? Or would you lop it off halfway down the trunk (I'm thinking that would be too drastic...), not leaving any branches at all, and start fresh as it were? The sooner I can do it, the better since I don't want it tipping over again and again, but I obviously don't want to stress the tree more than necessary.

    Thanks for any and all advice!!
     

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  2. emery

    emery Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hi Andrea,

    Since this tree gets pretty big (5m according to Vertrees/Gregory IV), why not grow it as a standard? Sounds like a rare opportunity! :)

    -E
     
  3. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    A larger and heavier pot might be the way to go on this one, rather than pruning.
     
  4. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    I agree with emery and maf.

    Other than pruning hard, crossing your fingers, exercising extreme patience and waiting for adventitious buds to form (I call it the taking the “life is like a box of chocolates approach” - you never know what you’re going to get. Meanwhile your significant other and friends look at it and ask why in the world do you have that stick coming out of that pot over there, I see you watering it – why? I’ll have you know that will be a really cool Japanese maple someday, it just happens to look like a stick in a pot right now because I pruned it. They may lock up your pruning shears and ask you to get professional help) I know this from my own experiences ;-) and it’s fun to laugh at the things we do for our labor of love.

    Pruning hard is an exercise in patience and a lot of hope. I have seen it play out well and I have seen it go terribly wrong costing time, embarrassment, and sometimes the life of the tree.

    If you want to take action… A more conservative approach would be to use no nitrogen fertilizer and pinch off the leaf embryo:

    -Pinching off the leaf embryo (in the center of new growth, between two new leaf pairs in the direction of growth is the tiny leaf embryo, removing it is a very delicate process, not for people who don’t have extreme patience and dexterity). Remove the leaf embryo at the end of every new growth leaving at least two leaf pairs. I have found by doing this you are stopping growth in its tracks. The available energy will be used to thicken the branch and form adventitious buds. This is different from pruning. When we prune, we are telling the tree to divide this branch and start growing here. When we pinch off the leaf embryo we are stopping growth and the tree will use that available energy on the current branch and down the trunk (directing growth inward instead of outward). This is the technique I use in my small yard with 40ish specimen maples and limited space. It’s a bonsai technique that I use in the landscape to keep a branch the size I want it, rather than pruning and promoting new growth where I don’t want it to grow.

    -No nitrogen fertilizer. I have found a few benefits through my own experiences. In addition to using it in late summer to prepare the tree for winter, I have found my maples form wound wood faster over large pruning cuts and they form more adventitious buds. New growth thickens faster and looks healthier since using 0-10-10 in late summer (mid-August in my area). I use sparingly in the growing season on those trees that I want to thicken the trunk or form new branches off of the trunk. If you can’t find 0-10-10, then make your own by buying “P” and “K” separately at your local garden center.
     
  5. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Heaver pot or put a brick in the current one. I wouldn't touch it with pruners..
     
  6. rufretic

    rufretic Active Member

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    Plant it in the ground, problem solved :-)
     
  7. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    I guess I hadn't really thought of planting it as the leaf size would be nice for bonsai - but, as you've mentioned, cutting it back so severely could potentially jeopardize the plant, for one, and it would take a while for it to regain the height that it has now. So, I guess, into the ground it goes! But, I'll probably have to wait until fall to do so as we're moving next week and I don't know what the sun/wind patterns are at our new place - don't want to plant a maple until I'm sure it's the appropriate spot for it. In the meantime, I've put a couple larger rocks in the pot to help weigh it down and hopefully prevent it from tipping over.

    Since the trunk is so thin and spindly, I'll obviously stake it, but should I also look at wrapping the trunk to help prevent damage to the bark, either from sun and/or cold temps? I've heard that recommended a lot in our area for thinner-barked trees until they are larger and more established.

    JT - regarding your comments about pinching off the leaf embryo, I've attached a couple of pictures (not of the Ueno yama) that I think show the leaf embryo - am I correct? If so, how big/small should it be before I pinch it off? How often? With my fingers or scissors/tweezers? Typically you leave a low 'sacrifice branch' to help thicken the trunk - which this tree obviously doesn't have - so will it also potentially help the trunk to thicken, not just the branch? (I've been doing bonsai for a few years semi-seriously, though none of my trees are anywhere near true bonsai yet, but I've not read about/practiced this technique - and all my bonsai books are packed away currently.)

    Also, the fertilizer I'm currently using is Fox Farm's Japanese Maple organic fertilizer, 4-8-5. I gave all the trees a 'dose' in March, and plan to do so again, depending on the need, come fall. They also got some blood and bone meal mixed in with it. Would this be an ok fertilizer to use for this tree?
     

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  8. Houzi

    Houzi Active Member

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    I sink most of my taller potted ones in the ground,has many benefits.
     
  9. kbguess

    kbguess Active Member 10 Years

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    If you are wanting to use this plant for bonsai, I would consider air-layering next year when it has recovered some.


    Advantages would be that the bonsai wouldn't have a graft union and you could choose the spacing of the lowest branch based on where you put the air-layer. Maples generally layer without too much difficulty.

    I plan on layering several maples starting mid May & plan to post on the process.
     
  10. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    Those are great pictures that show exactly what I'm talking about. It's in the center of the two smaller leaves in photo one. You can use tweezers or your fingers. I like to use my fingers to support the remaining stem and the two small leaves before pinching the embryo off with your other hand (you don't just want to pull and take more than the embryo, so gently supporting what you want to keep prevents accidents from happening).

    The technique will help thicken the trunk and branch. You are allowing the tree to use its available energy inward, instead of growing more branches outward (like when we prune)

    How often do you do this, well it's hard to say and it depends on growth rate and the tree variety. I like to take a good look at my trees when I water (checking out growth, health, and for any problems). So when I notice the tree putting off new growth, I let it develop a couple leaf pairs and then pinch off the embryo.

    Fox farm is a good balanced fertilizer to use, so you could use that through July at the latest, and I would recommend switching to 0-10-10 in August and September. I always remind myself to use fertilizer sparingly when applying (less is more when it comes to applying fertilizer, in my opinion). The trunk will continue to get thicker even after the leaves drop and pick back up in early spring as the buds begin to swell.

    If you decide to use tree wrap, I have really great luck with Dewitt Tree Wrap. Dewitt Tree Wrap will breathe (I do not like to have constant moisture on the bark or graft union, which usually happens with wraps that don’t breathe). It’s flexible, so it’s easy to work around the lower branches on some maple varieties.
     
  11. brierphoto

    brierphoto Active Member

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    Yes, as JT1 says, pinching off the new growth will help. At the end of every shoot, there is meristematic tissue that contains the dividing cells responsible for length- it's called the apical meristem. It also contains a hormone called Auxin, that inhibits growth of lateral meristems (buds that develop along the sides of the shoot). If you remove the apical meristem, it induces the plant to bud laterally along the girth. I've been doing this on my Sagara Nishiki and Geisha that are going CRAZY! :)
     
  12. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    kbguess - that's a thought too... I have a very tall, thin shishigashira (difference is it has leaves all along the stem/trunk) that I'm planning to cut down and try rooting the cut-off top in that Gel 2 Root stuff (it's a project our local bonsai club is going to try on various plants come June). Depending on how that goes, I might give the yama a go too.

    JT - great, I thought I was on the same wavelength as you, but wanted to make sure. Do you pinch off the leaf embryo on every branch, or just on some of them? Thanks for the info on the tree wrap, I'll definitely look for it. With the trunk as thin as it is, and with the winter temps we can get here, I want to make sure it's protected - as 'mis-shapen' as it is, it's still a very pretty tree and I'd hate to lose it.

    brierphoto - I'm going to have to re-read your post a few times and look things up; do you happen to have any pictures or links to more info on this? Either way, very intriguing and I definitely want to learn more (might be applicable to a few of my other trees). My brain is currently more than frazzled and side-tracked - we move to our new house on Wednesday, so it's getting a little crazy around here to say the least.
     
  13. jacquot

    jacquot Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I agree with planting this, and let it find its way. I have so many gorgeous trees that I put in that size that developed wonderfully.
     
  14. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    Resurrecting this thread because I think I know where I would like to plant this tree, but I'm not sure if the placement is ideal, and would like feedback from those with more experience with maples...

    Our house faces WNW, and while we typically get mostly south or west winds, we can get some decent north winds in winter. I am considering planting this tree in the raised bed along the front of the house, at the outside corner (ie, the very left of the attached picture).

    - I think the eves of the house are high enough that I shouldn't have to worry about height issues for a long time, if ever - is this a correct assessment?

    - Maples have a shallow, typically non-invasive root system, correct? The raised bed is 2ft wide at most; is this too close to the house?

    - Being planted by the house, it will receive residual heat from the house during the winter, and will have a bit of a buffer from most winds; however, it could still be hit by some decent west or north winds. Should I wrap the trunk and/or protect it in some other fashion in winter?

    Are there any other things I haven't considered or thought of in planting the tree in this location? It should get the right amount of sun - a couple of hours in the early morning, and 2-3 hours in the early afternoon - and while it will get some later in the day, it will be diffused and mottled by the larger silver maples in the front yard that are at each end of the raised bed in the foreground of the picture, just out of sight (which should also help provide a bit of a windbreak).
     

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  15. emery

    emery Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hi Andrea,

    Here's something worth considering that you may not have thought of. Silver maples will leaf out, in my experience, about 3 weeks later than most palmatums. So while the leaves are really young, they will get almost no shade. You may get a little early burning, especially while the plant is young.

    For your other points, my take is: height is not a problem; yes, they have shallow root systems and there is no issue; I don't personally like wrapping in wet winter climates because trapped moisture causes more problems than the protection solves. Better to put in a temporary windbreak if wind is a real problem. However only a few days ago someone suggested to me using corrugated cardboard or plastic as a wrapping. This might solve some moisture retention issues, but I haven't tried it (and won't most likely).

    HTH
     
  16. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    Hi Emery,

    I am so glad you told me about the leafing time of the silver maple - I was not aware of that, and it may factor in to my decision to plant the tree there... In early spring, the sunlight isn't very intense and I am *fairly* certain that the young leaves will be ok with the sun; I had most of my maples on the driveway this spring (before we moved; faced ESE at the old house), and they received sun from early morning until mid-afternoon, and they didn't show any ill effects from it (the wind was the issue there).

    Thank you for confirming my thoughts on the size/root issues. I hadn't considered moisture getting trapped due to wrapping; typically winters aren't too wet, but early spring definitely can be, and I don't want to encourage problems with fungus, mold, etc. For a windbreak, if I were to set up a panel of privacy lattice (lattice strips are about 1" wide, with the 'openings' about 1" square on the diagonal) both in front of - west facing - and beside - north facing - the tree, to it's full height, maybe a few inches taller, would that be a sufficient windbreak? Or would I need something a little more solid than that? Obviously I want it to still have airflow, but shield the thin trunk from the worst of the winds, etc.

    Thank you!!!
     
  17. emery

    emery Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    I guess the panel would work fine. My main concern would be that it would fall and crush the tree! That would be just my luck. ;). So make sure it's really well braced.

    cheers,

    -E
     
  18. prairiestyle

    prairiestyle Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I live a zone or two north of you (Omaha) and I don't protect any of my in-ground trees in the winter. I've got a lot of trees (though not a Ueno yama) that are rather exposed to the winds of winter and handle it quite well. I also have quite a few growing under some silver maples, and they've never been burnt by early spring sun. Many can handle 8 hours of direct July sun, as long as I keep up with the watering. That might have something to do with the high summer humidity we have here though. I wouldn't worry too much about the winter hurting your trees as long as you care for them during the rest of the year, which it sounds like you do. The ones that die around here are the Bloodgood/atropurpureum types that people throw in the middle of their front yard and never water. Japanese maples are not "plant it and forget it" type trees.
     
  19. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    We're technically a zone 6b, though as well all know, there are microclimates that are warmer or colder within each zone. I have never been in Omaha during the summer, but I can pretty much guarantee that our direct summer sun is more intense than what you
    receive - even plants that are generally rated for "full sun" (annuals and/or perennials) often show significant heat/sun stress when in direct sun for more than 4-5 hours. My crepe myrtle is already starting to get a little crispy on some leaf edges, and even the lantana - which loves sun and heat - can start looking a little wilty and stressed after a few days of direct sun when the temps get in the high 90's/low 100's for days on end. I really think that's the kicker: the direct intense sun with sustained high temperatures - if we'd get decent breaks of 2-3 cooler days in between (even high 80's would work) - is what really stresses the JM's. Sometimes the humidity isn't too bad, but often times the humidity can be quite high - though not quite as bad as the southeast, thank goodness - which of course takes it's toll too.

    I've had the Ueno yama in it's tentative spot now for a few days and so far, it's doing ok - gets a little early morning sun, then 2-3 hours of sun later in the afternoon before getting mostly shade with some dappled sun, courtesy of the silver maple, through the remainder of the afternoon and evening. Keeping my fingers crossed this location will work. :)
     

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