Japanese Maple: An ideal bonsai tree for all seasons

Japanese maple bonsai trees are most common choice for bonsai because of its decorative, colorful and ornamental foliages.  Maple trees are deciduous small trees, with odd numbered pointed leaves. Usually 5 -11 pointed leaves are there depending on the genus and species of maples. Maples are commonly found in Japan, China and Korea.

Pink leaf Japanese maple bonsai
A wide variety of maples are available for bonsai. Most common ones with five pointed leaves are called Acer palmatum. They are very widely used for bonsai due to their ready availability, beautiful foliage and graceful branch structure. They also responds to most bonsai techniques. If you are confused which bonsai style to choose for your bonsai, find it here: 9 decorative bonsai styles.

Japanese Maple trees are perfect specimen for the bonsai in your yard. They are adaptable to very wide range of climate conditions in North America, Japan, China, Korea. An ideal plant for both eastern and western hemisphere bonsais. It can grow up to 15 feet tall and you can get it shorter if you do extensive pruning and trimming.

Pruning Japanese Maples:

Japanese laceleaf maple pruning is also called “shell pruning”. Top layers will act as a protective cover of foliage for the entire tree. It will look like a shell , hence the name shell pruning. The branches or bones of maple tree is more important for its aesthetic appeal. Try out some unique and creative twisting techniques by doing proper wiring and trimming.

 

How to Prune Japanese Maple Bonsai: {Tips}

How to prune maple bonsai

Thin wisely and evenly:  Thin laceleaf or shell prune maples intelligently. Don’t remove more than one fifth of the live crown in a given year to avoid stressing the plant or trigger unwanted growth. To reduce overall bulk and clutter, prune throughout the tree evenly. Thinned out plant will have space filled but with fewer branches.
Branch layers separation: If a lateral branch crosses into the area occupied by the scaffold above or below, you have to remove it.  Remove any branches that stray into the scaffold above or below.
Prune old and dead woods: Find out the old and dead woods and branches and cut it down. You may have to use a keyhole saw to make precision cuts. These cuts are very important for choosing the right style for your bonsai.
Remove dragging branches: For giving more appeal and aesthetics, remove the branches that touches the ground. Do not prune any branch that is more than half the diameter of the trunk.
Create a veiled top layer of leaves: As the final step, create a curtain effect where you can see through tiny spaces in the foliage by thinning out many small branches. The layers of twigs above the branches will look like a veil. Stripping out the topmost branches will lead to decaying the entire tree, so be very careful in trimming the top of the tree.

Bonus tips:

  • Branches that do not taper much , do not regularly divide or do not curve must be pruned out.
  • Pruning in summer stimulate less growth than winter pruning.
  • Good to avoid pruning if temperature is more than 27°C.

Colourful maple bonsai:

Another attractive feature of this tree is it can have different coloured leaves in different seasons. In Spring Japanese Maple Bonsai tree leaves are bright red in color. As they mature they will turn pinkish and purple. During summer, leaves will take green color with pinkish tinges. During fall season, leaves will turn dark pinkish red colour. When all leaves have turned pinkish red, then its an awesome sight to watch.

Japanese maple bonsai by Bill Valavanis

Image [ Via:  Bonsaibark : Deshojo Japanese maple bonsai by Bill Valavanis ]

Red leafy maple bonsai

Image [Via : artofbonsai.org ]

Purple coloured maple bonsai

Green leafy Maple bonsai

Yellow leaf Japanese maple bonsai

Image [ via: Bonsaibark  Weekly wire – a little tipsy ]

Multicolour Maple bonsai

Disadvantages:
It takes 10-20 years to get the full fledged Japanese maple bonsai tree. So it needs lots of perseverance and will power to continue maintaining this awesome tree. Another option for having a Japanese maple bonsai quickly is to get a grown specimen instead of growing it from seed. Then you can start applying pruning and trimming bonsai technique to decorate the tree.

Mini Maple tree bonsai as home decors

Though these are not actual bonsai, we can call it look alike of bonsai. But these are awesome centrepiece for decorating your study table or living room tea table. Its an ideal way to bring nature inside your home.

Mini Maple bonsai as homedecor

The image shown below is of worlds smallest viable bonsai tree using a Japanese maple tree. Its only one and half inch tall and its a Guinness world record holder. It is nearly 12 years old.
World's smallest maple bonsai

Image [ Via : Bonsaiempire , top 10 smallest bonsai trees ].

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