Pruning, Airlayering and Restoring an Old Japanese Maple
I have here a customers they shoujo and the customers more or less like can’t, decide what to do lost lost its way. So this obviously is an old day shoujo. The trunk like that, i would guess. Trees like this are in excess of 65 years old, easily these trees all imported from japan.
I can see the graft extremely well grafted tree, good taper, but branches have become too thick and too old. So when trees like this have very thick branches, it is maybe time to redesign the tree. Customers cut one branch off from there cut this branch cut this branch. The joys of restoring an old Japanese Maple.
I think the view was to try and make this the front, but this front would not work. The way we decide on the front or back of the tree is not just the trunk line and the shape of the trunk, but a very important criteria or criterium for deciding front is really the nebari or the base of the tree.
So it’s, not just the disposition of branches of dimbardi as well. So we look at the base the concentrate on the base. This obviously not interesting. This is not interesting. This is not interesting, but when you come around here it’s, nice and broad.
How do you bring a Japanese maple back to life?
This is interesting so because of this, i really have no choice but to use this as a potential front. All the other sides i would discount. So i have to work with this also. The fact that this slightly leaning is a positive feature, so this is going to be a nice natural leader, luckily leaning the right way.
What are the defects on this tree? The defects because of the age is that the branches have become too thick. The proportions are wrong or not appropriate for a bonsai. I have always emphasized that in order to make a tree look old and thick on the trunk.
Looking thick, you need slightly thinner branches, not thick branches, so these thick branches we may have to sacrifice or think of some way of doing something else with them. The leader is fine. The taper is excellent.
The taper is really really good there’s. No problem with the taper pity about that branch: we may have to grow new branches. So if you look at this tree, i can see straight away that there are thin branches.
This is a thin branch. This is a thin branch. These are thin branches. That’s, a thin branch. So if i get rid of the thick branches, i still have some thin branches, so all is not lost. Okay, i can see hypnotic all right.
You’re, great okay, so that is my solution all right. So i will, i have the customer here. I don’t need to embarrass the customer, but if customer agrees i will i will do that. Okay, okay, so i usually like to do it gradually.
Why is my Japanese maple tree dying?
So i won’t. Take all of them out in one go. I’ll. Take that out. I might even take this out gradually that’s too long. As you all know, i work very fast and, as i say, i work fast and i say it not just to show off, but that is the nature of how i work, because once you have decided what to do, the rest is easy.
This is a thick branch. Okay, i’m, still going to keep taking the tick branches off that’s, a tig branch. Obviously, if this is your three pillar, i know they’re. All these thin ones are possible to earlier.
Where’s, that small tree that you were doing huh, you can use very small branches too earlier okay, so we’ve taken those off that’s. What we’re taking off – and i dare say it’s already, looking better, would you not say the proportions of the tree have come back just by removing some of those thicker branches? Now this tree is obviously very healthy, so there’s, no problem of it, regenerating new branches.
So i’m, not worried in the least. That is obviously, therefore now this people would say is a fall, but i like it, it’s very natural. The way i do my bonsai, i like trees that look natural. I don’t like them, looking like so stylized that they don’t look like natural trees, obvious blemishes.
Pruning Dead Branches Japanese Maple
I will take off so although this and this was taken off it’s still now resembling a bonsai. So i don’t have problems with that. Now, looking at that thick branch, i probably don’t need it so long. I’m, going to cut it back to there and from here i will get lots of new shoots so that will fill that space.
So you get these thin branches. This i can take slightly to this side, so be patient. You’ll get branches from here. I’m glad you kept that little stub, you’ll, get branches growing from there and you even get something growing from there.
So all is not lost tidy. Some of these ends with my glass cutter i usually like to make a full concave cut so that it heals flush. If you don’t make it concave, you’ll, get a lump! Okay, that i’ll leave, because hopefully you’ll, get a shoot coming from there, several shoots.
Even from there, you’ll. Get several shoots that back branch is nice, see i’ve got to think ahead, because if you’re going to get shoots from here, it may spoil the shape of the tree. So i’m, going to take it back a little like so so, even if the new branches grow it’ll fill in that space.
Hopefully it’ll fill there as well. So – and this is uh – some of our guys were just remarking that a bit of kanuma has been used, but konoma doesn’t, do any harm. Kanuma is a very nice light soil and although it’s used for azaleas there’s.
No reason why it can’t be used for maples, and this tree will grow very strong, because konoma is a nice very light. The roots will penetrate easily, so you ‘ Ll, get good growth from there now, because it’s spring.
The sap is already rising. I will deal look at sap coming. If you go close, can you see it’s like tear drops, can you see we just had a drop now? Can you see the drop there? Can the camera take it? Can you see it for me? I haven’t touched.
It see look, look that’s. How fast the sap comes out, maple sap, you can tuck the thing and drink it fresh or you can make wine from it or spirit. Okay. So i would say that is enough. If i wanted to be picky, i could cut that back to there, but i won’t.
I want new shoots to come from there. Look at the sap look at this up. Can you see so a lot of people when they see sap like this in the spring they get worried, but there’s, no need to worry. Even if you didn’t seal it, the sap would stop.
It would stop in about a day or two, no taste, okay, so i’m now just going to seal it, so we have removed quite a bit. Look at all that look at all that that’s, the amount we have removed and it’s got a lovely dome shape and i bet you anything.
Within a year, you’ll, get lots of new branches growing from here here here. Let them grow. Don’t, cut them off straight away. Let them grow get firm and maybe next year we will think of uh removing it is it too early? No, you! The cuttings are best with what we call semi-hardwood.
The wood is still not hardened enough so see. This is last year’s, wood. I can talk a little about a bit about cuttings, so the cutting is ideally like, matchstick thin like this with a heel, but because you can try there’s.
No reason why you can’t, so you can use that. But even this is last year’s wood. This is last year’s, wood! If i go and get a branch from another tree stay there, this believe it or not is also a deshojo, but because it’s been growing in this greenhouse.
These leaves emerged about two months ago and this shoot, which is about two foot long more than 60 centimeter was all produced this year, so it’s already produced one main new shoot and then the secondary shoots – and this is what we call semi Hardwood it is this current years wood which has just about to get hard and firm.
So the idea cutting is like that, like that, so that’s with a heel strip. The bottom leaves and insert it in peat or peat and sand with a bit of hormone powder. It will root if you wanted to make what we call a noodle cutting a noodle cutting is something that you cut just below the node.
These are called nodes. So if you cut just below the node, the roots will come from there and if you stick that, because this also semi hardwood this is this is wood. It’ll, be ideal cutting, so that can be inserted.
Half the depth that will make a cutting so that’s, a little exercise or instruction on cutting, so the sap is continuing to come through. But no no worry, as i say. Usually the sap stops after a day it’ll continue flowing for a day, but there’s no harm.
And again there are all sorts of theories about using sealant in horticultural college. You will be taught that sealant is detrimental because they say that it can trap the fungal fungal spores but, as i say, a very controversial subject, some people believe in using it some people don’t, but i prefer to use it because nothing lost By using it, so we come back to this has the front.
So let’s mark the front, so you won’t forget so we still got the lovely conical shape you haven’t spoiled it one bit and we haven’t taken major branches out. I did think of taking this one out, but i don’t want to be too dogmatic about it.
You know you can take it to the extent that you want almost what we call a classic tree with one here, one there, one there and so on, but so what there are two branches there. It fills that space. If i were to remove that, it would create a very big gap, and that would spoil it.
So this is where i broken the rule. You know purists would say, remove that, but you can see straight away. If i remove it, it becomes too empty and it will spoil the shape of the tree. So this is a natural looking tree.
All we need is a few more branches here and that will come in the coming year and you ‘ Ve got a very nice station back to its original condition. There you are so i have david here who is a keen bonsai, hobbyist or collector, and he ‘
S got some beautiful bonsai and he has some trees, which he doesn ‘ T know what to do with so problem. Trees are often brought to me because they cannot see a solution that might be pleasing enough or does justice to this tree.
So this tree, i would say, is about 1.5 meter could have been even taller. He’s already pruned some thick branches off, so there was a thick branch there and those tops have been pruned off.
Some pruning pruning been done to this tree. So with a large tree like this, i know that there are large bonsai, but this is verging on very, very large, maybe too large. So because of that, i’m, not exactly happy, and i don’t know what david has in mind.
So can you just say something about the history of this tree? It’s been left to grow. Really it’s probably had uh it’s been repotted, but it’s been 10. It’s, been, i &, # 39 ve had probably 10, maybe 15 years, but was it as tall when you got it, it was tall, but it wasn’t as tall okay, so it has grown more.
It’s. Growing more because because actually all it had year on year was just a trim to keep it in a rough shape yeah, but it uh. It was probably four feet tall. I think okay got it yeah and because bonsai has been imported to the uk since 1962.
There are lots of all bonsai knocking around in the country which have become overgrown either the grower or the person owning it wanted to grow them into big bonsai or they didn’t know what to do with the tree.
So you get situations like this, so as i say for my liking, this tree is a bit too large and if you want a big bonsai, yes, we can trim some of the some of the branches and just keep it as a tall tree, and that is The end of story, but i know that david is not exactly pleased with it and you don’t know what to do with it.
Is it so so let’s. Look at the various possibilities. Whenever i see a tree, i look at the overall picture to see what the tree would look like. If i left it alone, i could bring it back into a tall tree by trimming into a conical shape, and i could just leave it like that, but this tree has so much potential.
It’s like human beings. Everyone has potential, some have more potential than others, and some of them you can see a lot of potential, but the potential has to be brought out. So what are the good points in the tree? I always look for good points.
I’d. Never try and look for the bad in anything. So the good points on this tree is that it’s old, it’s, got beautiful trunk and it ‘ S got beautiful, nebari beautiful nebari there. The base is absolutely stunning and it’s like a twin trunk.
So originally it must have been imported as a twin trunk tree – and i dare say the tree was no more than like: 70 80 centimeter high, so the nebari is good. The trunk is good, but the proportions of the tree being so tall, doesn’t do justice to that trunk and the nebari.
So, as i said, the obvious option is to trim it back into conical shape and leave it as a big tree. Now, looking at the tree from different angles, because whenever you want to decide the front or the back of the tree, my first impressions are, you know what is the base of the tree like you know, i look for that straight away and then the trunk.
In fact, this tree is interesting from virtually every side. You look at the tree from this side. It’s, nice and broad, so that’s, a possible nimbari. You look at the tree from this side. This is also possible.
There’s, a nebari, let’s, remove some of these because they may be distracting you. So this is quite nice. I think these guy wires, i don’t – think we’re, going to use it for this design, so this nibari is very nice, so i’m still deciding whether the front of the tree as it is, is the Right choice or not because the tree has been potted in a rectangular pot.
Obviously there was one side which was the preferred side and i think this way may have been the preferred side. Isn’t. It was this the preferred side with the tree leaning this way, yeah okay, so this was the preferred front again, very nice, nibari very nice, so the neymar is nice from three sides.
This side – also nice from here and also nice from here. This is also possibility. Very nice and broad okay, but the tree as it is so tall you don’t appreciate the beauty of the trunk and the beauty of the base or the root base nibari.
So we could easily just trim it. As i said back to a conical shape, make this the leader make the tree that tall and still get a reasonable, looking bonsai, but there are more than one possibilities for this tree.
I’ve always said that to every problem. There is always more than one solution, sometimes two solutions, three solutions, endless solutions – and this is exactly that uh example or case in point where there are so many many possibilities.
I said to you earlier on that the beauty of this tree is really here, and it extends up to here beyond that. It is a distraction, so my first impression was what, if, what if we did something radical and brought the tree back to there? That means just concentrate on this part up to here and have a short bonsai like this.
If you have a short bonsai, this high short is all relative. Isn’t it. It will be half the height of this existing tree or even less about 40 percent of the existing height. By having it there. All your concentration and the eye is going to go there and here to the trunk, and you will be looking at that and not be distracted by the top.
So this is going to be a superb solution. I’m, also very confident that i will be able to produce new branches in next to no time, because i know maple, i specialize in maples, if you can home in on this tree, look at that little shoot that has just started sprouting.
You look at the tree all over. You will see new shoots there’s, another new shoot coming from here. We will go look at that. These will all become thick branches about at least matchstick in two months and by the end of the summer.
It could be even i don’t know, maybe thick as a byron, so producing branches is not a problem so straight away. I can see that the solution is to make it a short tree either using this as the potential front, and if you want it to be even more radical because i’ve seen bonsai in one of my customers place.
He’s, got a mountain maple with a base about 18 inches, broad and taping to a point in just about 18 inches. So you can get a good taper. So if you want it to be radical, you could even make a tree with this side as the front and have a tapering tree with a broad base and this as the leader and taping that way.
So there’s, so many possibilities, so either we make a short tree with this as the new top or disregard the back and use this using. This is the front nice broad base and this as the new leader, so we could air lay this.
We could lay this to get a nice short dumpy tree. We could even lay that, but we do it in stages, so certainly airlay this. Nearly this i don’t know what to do with the back. I think if you use a single trunk, then we have to probably discard that earlier here and get another tree from there.
So these are the different possibilities. So it’s, going to be an exercise in air layering with a wheel to producing a bonus eye from this trunk. So that is the radical solution we’ve come up with and it’s now up to david to decide what he wants us to do.
I will just go for it, go for it great. That is a great solution. Okay, so he’s very excited. We’re, going to go for it, and so we’re going to give you exercise in air layering. So we can earlier this because this is going to eventually go, because this is going to be the new leader we’re, going to grow new branches, so it’s like rebuilding a house.
You know it’s like destroying the house, not destroying it. Rebuilding from the base down. We’re, keeping the footprint, keeping the footprint and building a new house. So we’re going to aerate this and lay this.
I like that three area layerings – and this is an exercise in air layering. Okay, we’re going to start earlier, so there are three possible points. We’re going to early this one, really this one and anyway the back one.
So let’s start with the simple one. So this has got quite an interesting curve there, so that could make a nice bonsai. You could even argue that you could get a twin trunk tree from that and away from there, but let’s.
Do it from here, because we would cut it from there anyway. So the cut we make. Usually, the width of the cut is about the width uh, the diameter of the tree. So if this is slightly over, i would say it’s like three quarter inch.
This is the amount of bark i’m going to remove from there, so you can go right around now. We always say that we get down to the cambium as long as you remove the bark. I think you will be getting into the cambium.
Don’t be too enthusiastic and remove so much that you get to the bare wood because that can kill the tree. There are many ways of doing the bark removal you can even put what we call a tonic, a piece of wire and twist it.
What we’re trying to do is to stop the sap flowing from there to there and because you stopped the sapphire from there to there, this part is struggling to lift you’ll, send out roots to suck up water.
So if you put a ball of moss, it will send roots into the moss to produce new roots to sustain the trees, so that is the theory of air layering. There are so many different ways. As i said there’s also.
Another way, i will just show you what we call a bridge, so that means you don’t, remove all the bark, but you leave a little bridge and the bridge serves to keep sending nutrients to the other side, because if you remove it completely, The shock can be so drastic or so severe that it can kill the top.
So some people do the bridge method as a safety precaution safety net. But if you leave a bridge which is too big, all the sap will go through the bridge and it won’t send roots. So it’s, a fine balance knowing how much bridge to leave or not to use a bridge at all.
I’ve, found from experience that with maples you don’t need to leave a bridge, but i’m, just showing you this in case. Anyone wants to practice the bridge method. So i’m going to remove that bridge. I’m, not going to use the bridge for this and remember you can’t earlier any and everything i know.
One of my youtube fans from america said that they can air their pines. I don’t, know which pine, but from my experience the only point that is uh possible to ail is one called the zeus chopin. This is a very small needle uh.
Five needle goyu matsu and that is produced exclusively by air layering. But apart from that, i don’t know of any point that air is. I will stand to be corrected if anyone has had experience in air laying say scot spine or even japanese black pine.
So you got to know what ale is again from experience. We know that corn beam area as well beach areas, maples do junipers, do very easy willows. Of course willows. You only need to stick a branch in water and it will root.
So you don’t even need to airless, so that is the width of the cut you make and now let’s prepare uh the surface i like to use hormone rooting powder. This is commercial hormone rooting powder and many people are confused as to where to put the home on rooting powder.
A lot of people put it where i’ve cut it no harm in putting it, but the actual place which is most effective, is above the cut for the simple reason that the roots are going to come from this part. It’s, not going to come from there because the bark has been removed.
It won’t produce any roots. We don’t want the roots from there. We want the roots from here to sustain the tree, so the hormone rooting powder is put this part rather than that side. So that is enough.
I’ve, wet it a little bit, so it’s, easy to apply there’s. Also hormone rooting liquid because the active ingredient is a substance called iba which is indolyle, butyric acid and the powder is talcum powder to transmit the thing.
So once we prepare this, the next thing is to prepare the plastic wrapper. So i’m going through all this airing from scratch, as it were, i’ve done before, but i’ll show you again, so i like to use clear plastic.
I know some people advocate the use of black plastic. The only reason they say that you should use black plastic is that it says it excludes the light i don ‘ T know why it should exclude the light, because if you wrap the moss ball around the trunk or the branch it’s, excluding the light from the trunk anyway.
So what’s? The point besides, if i use clear plastic when the roots come through, i can see the roots i’ve used this for last 30 or more years, 30 40 years, so it works. So i use clear plastic. You can also use bubble, plastic and bubble.
Plastic is good because it retains heat, so it generates heat and it sends roots even more easily, but i find that the clear plastic is good enough. You notice that i use this akadama bags. I don’t waste.
Anything i like to recycle and i find that the thickness of those bags is just the right thickness. It’s, not too thin and not too thick. So i prefer to use that as the thing for wrapping. So this is about the right size for doing an air layering, so i will put a ball of moss.
Let me show you this by the way is moss that we have collected from around the pond and from our lawns. So this is back the moss and the genuine sphagnum moss that we import and, as you know, we import our boss from new zealand, and this is the new zealand moss.
I know it’s been graded and it’s been treated there’s, chemicals to kill the bugs, but it’s life. So there’s very little difference, so it’s. The same thing, so i’ll use some of this and some of this because i like to experiment to see which works better, but i’m sure this will do as well, because i use this every year on my own trees.
So, for a airline that side, this is the size of moss volume. On this side, it’s like a small bird’s; nest; okay, so that’s. What we’re going to wrap around that trunk, so i prefer to put it on the plastic and i will get some wire to tie the ends.
I don’t bother with string or anything wire is very convenient because when it comes to removing it, you just unwire it rather than have to cut away string. So that is where i put the moss so that there’s.
A lot of moss this side as well, because this is where the roots are going to come. I keep some on that side so that it keeps it moist. I will now i’m, going to add more moss, but let me tie that end to stop the moss from falling out.
Everyone will have their own favorite way preferred way of doing things. As i say, you can tie string or whatever, but why? I find this the most convenient thing to use. Okay, so i’ve, now formed a little like cup, and now i’m going to stuff a little more moss.
You usually find that one or two uh liters. How much is that you know it’s like a large grapefruit, so that’s, the sort of size you want for the moss ball and if you do it correct, we are now in the middle of april.
I usually start my earrings around about this time because there’s, so much growth there’s, so much activity, the xylem and all the nutrients are going up and down the tree transmitting all the nutrients up the tree.
So you know that’s, not big enough, just like to just be a bit more generous and you notice that this moss is wet. When i put it in and because i’m using plastic, the plastic is going to hold the moisture in when i was a boy growing up in india.
I used to see the gardeners there use hessian jute sacks. You know in the old days they used to use the hessian sex for transporting rice and all sorts of other goods, so that was used and they used to use the hessian sacks or cloth to make early.
And that was okay, because when they did the airlines, it was in the middle of the monsoon or the rainy season and in the rainy season there’s. So much moisture that that you don’t, have any trouble. Keeping the root ball wet so that’s.
Okay, so that’s. All we need to do now. If we are lucky in six weeks, you may get root, but i would say, give it three to six months and you should get root, usually try to make it quite tight so that there’s, no leakage of air.
So it keeps it down and when the roots come through, you will see the roots growing there. You are so that’s, how we do air layering. So i thought i’d. Show you the final outcome of what we did this morning uh.
I worked on three trees for this particular customer and this one i didn’t talk about, but this was a very interesting tree. We’re, going to reshape it more of a conical shape, but we transformed this completely.
I wish i had videoed it, but not to worry. This is one that we did. This is the discharger that we completely change the the tree. In fact, the front is the other way around now look so this is going to be the front and we ‘
Ve got to build some branches here so that the tree will be more like this. So if you re-look at the video, you will see what we did and the sap is continuing to flow, but, as i said, it will stop, and then this big boy, as you can see this tree was about, i would say originally more than two feet: high Uh, it was chopped at the top and the customer got a bit scared to proceed.
So this is how it ended up, but he’s quite happy with what i proposed for him. So this is going to be the future tree about that high. With that powerful, looking trunk that twin trunk, we don’t need, because this is going to be the front of the tree.
So we’ve already this portion to make another tree like a multi trunk, another tree from here and another tree from there. So we’ll end up with four bonsai three new ones and that one. So how good is that one? Not so interesting treat and we are going to get four interesting bonsai.
So this is how we look at that and, as you can see, we haven ‘ T pruned that much. That was the red that came out from the deshojo and that’s. All the rest is an air layering exercise, so i hope you enjoyed this video