How to prune an Acer palmatum bonsai?

The bonsai acer palmatum is pruned at the end of winter

Image – Wikimedia/Ryan Somma

It is possible that your passion for bonsai started when one day you started looking at pictures of these small trees. It happened to me when I saw a few Japanese maples, because they have leaves and a habit that I simply adore. In addition, they tolerate pruning very well, and with minimal care it turns out very beautiful.

But it is important that you know how to prune a bonsai Acer palmatumbecause even if he recovers well, we must not forget that a badly done job can complicate his recovery.


When to prune a Japanese maple bonsai?

The Japanese maple bonsai is pruned at the end of winter

The pruning of the Japanese maple, whose scientific name is Acer palmatum, should be done in late winter at a time when the buds have not yet sprouted but are about to; that is, it will be pruned when the buds begin to “swell”. But be careful, because if there are usually late frosts in your area, you will have to wait for them to pass because otherwise it will take damage.

Also, if the temperatures drop below 0 degrees and your plant has already started to sprout, you must protect it with an antifreeze cloth, otherwise it may lose its leaves. Pruning under these conditions should be delayed until temperatures improve.

What type of size should be made?

There are three types of size:

  • Coaching: it is the one which, as its name suggests, is made to form the bonsai, to give it a style. It consists of eliminating all the branches that do not correspond to the style you want to give it, as well as pruning those that grow too much. So that the tree suffers as little as possible, it is done at the end of winter (or in spring if there are late frosts).
  • Maintenance: It consists in eliminating dead and diseased branches and stumps, if any. It is also done at the end of winter.
  • pinched: is a type of pruning consisting in removing the most recent leaves from all or part of the branches. As the soft green material is cut, it must be done throughout the year.

Healthy japanese maple bonsai

Image – Flickr/jacinta lluch valero

What materials do I need to prune my bonsai? Acer palmatum?

You really don’t need much. While it might be a fantastic idea to buy a bonsai tool kit if you plan to collect this type of plant, if instead you only have one you can use things you probably already have. at home.

For instance: normal household scissors will suffice for pinchingor even those used in cooking; for pruning and maintenance, the anvil pruner that allows you to prune your roses They will also come in handy as long as the branches are 1 centimeter thick or less, if thicker you will need to buy a handsaw or handsaw.

Of course, it is important that the tools are cleaned before and after use. Fungal spores cannot be seen, but that is precisely why they are so dangerous: they take advantage of their “invisibility” (in fact, with a powerful microscope we can see them) to grow, and the worst part is that pruning can be a unique opportunity to infect bonsai. But to avoid it, I insist, Tools should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water or with a damp cloth.

how to prune a bonsai Acer palmatum step by step?

The bonsai Acer palmatum is a plant that must be pruned from time to time

Image – Flickr/Jerry Norbury

Normally, you bought a bonsai with a predefined style, but your plant still needs to be pruned to maintain it. In any case, if this is not the case, know that Japanese maple suits virtually any stylealthough the simplest is the one that respects the natural development of the plant.

Related article:

bonsai styles

In other words, if your maple has a straight trunk and a more or less triangular crown, its style will be chokkan; if instead it has more branches on one side than the other, you can give it a windswept or fukinagashi style; If several specimens grow in the same pot, try to make a forest bonsai.

And it is that the most beautiful bonsai are those that have been pruned without trying to modify them excessively (Apart, of course, from the size). So, once you are clear about the style of your Japanese maple, and as long as it is the right time, you can carve it in the following way:

  1. The first thing is to decide what style to give it in case you haven’t defined it yet.
  2. Then, all dead (dry) branches must be removed, as well as those that cross each other.
  3. Likewise, if there is a branch that grows forward, see if it can help you by wiring it to grow on the other side; if not, feel free to cut it.
  4. If there is one that is very long, it must be pruned by making the cut above a bud (buds are small bumps that protrude from the branches).

As for pinching, it is done to cause a branch to branch out more. It must therefore be done in spring and summerremoving the newest leaves with your fingers (grab them as if your hand were tweezers) or with scissors.

We hope it will be easier for you to have a bonsai of Acer palmatum beautiful.

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