The Japanese maple (Acer palmatum Nipponicum) is a tree native to Japan, Korea, eastern China, and Taiwan. However, it’s also very popular among American Bonsai growers. This is due to the vibrant foliage, gentle colors, and easy maintenance of these ornamental trees.
Bonsai trees are young dwarf plants that can fit in a pot as a result of methods like excessive pruning. This guide will look at how to make Bonsai from Japanese maple. We’ll also consider the different styles of this particular Bonsai tree species.
What Are Japanese Maples?
Japanese Maples belong to the Aceraceae family of plants and come from Japan. They have wide varieties, some of which are more popular than others due to their striking appearance and shapes.
You can turn Japanese maple trees into Bonsai plants thanks to their default smaller size compared to similar species. Plus, they have attractive leaves that change color during autumn. There are many styles of Japanese maple Bonsai plants, which you can choose from depending on your preference.
There are two main types of Japanese maple: Keshiki and Shibori. Keshiki is more common in gardens, but Shibori is more suitable for growing as a Bonsai tree because it has dark green leaves.
You can also classify Japanese Maple trees according to their growth habit: pyramidal, upright, weeping and cascading. A pyramidal tree has a strong central leader with long branches that spread out in all directions from the top of the tree. An upright tree is also columnar but has no prominent leader, and its branches grow straight up. On the other hand, a weeping Japanese maple will lean over as it grows taller.
Appearance and Characteristics
Japanese maples have beautiful foliage in many colors. The leaves of a Japanese maple tree are often known as “laceleaf” because they are thin and delicate. The leaves grow in pairs on opposite sides of the stem and have three main lobes, one longer than the other.
How to Care For a Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree
Japanese maple Bonsai trees are one of the easiest to care for if you follow these few simple guidelines:
Japanese maple needs bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. Ensure they don’t get direct sunlight, as the leaves will turn yellow or brown.
Water your Japanese Bonsai maple once a week by pouring water into the pot until it drains out of the bottom hole. You can also use a watering can with a long spout to water from above without getting your hands wet. However, don’t let your Japanese Bonsai maple sit in stagnant water for long periods because it will quickly cause root rot.
3. Humidity and Temperature
You should keep a humidifier or steam machine running in the room where you keep your Japanese maple. If you don’t have access to one of these machines, then misting its leaves once a day is another easy way to keep humidity levels high enough for the Japanese maple to thrive.
Cleaning is a very important part of caring for your tree. The best way to clean them is by using a soft cloth and warm water. If you can’t produce warm water now, then you can also apply a touch of cold water to nourish the plant. Either way, you should refrain from scrubbing with liquid detergent because it may cause burning of your leaves.
5. Fertilizer and Soil
Once you’ve cleaned your tree, proceed to fertilize it. Fertilizing helps keep your plant healthy by providing nutrients so it can grow strong roots, leaves, and flowers. You should fertilize every two weeks during the spring/summer months (when growth is at its peak), but once fall comes around, you should stop fertilizing altogether until next spring, when growth resumes again.
When it comes to fertilizing, several options are available to you. Fertilizer is accessible in liquid or granular form, both of which you can find at your local gardening center. Liquid fertilizers are usually more expensive than granular ones, but they’re also easier to apply because you can simply pour them onto the soil. Next, it won’t take long for the plant to absorb the fertilizer.
It’s important to re-pot your Bonsai tree every year or two. If you fail to do so, your tree may become ill. You’ll also want to be sure that the soil in the pot drains well.
You can re-pot your tree by digging out the entire soil mass from its pot, removing any dead roots, and trimming off any excess ones. Then, replace that dirt with new soil and place your Bonsai back into the pot.
7. Diseases and Pests
Japanese maple Bonsai trees are susceptible to diseases and pests such as scale insects, mites, spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, etc. Because of this weakness, they need regular inspections by a professional who can identify potential issues long before they take root.
If you notice any of the insects or other pests mentioned above on your Japanese maple tree, it is important to treat them as soon as possible. To this end, you should always keep several anti-pest spays at hand. You can find many effective products online or at your local gardening store. Also, inquire about the correct way to apply them.
How to Wire Bonsai Tree Japanese Maple
Wiring is one of the most important tasks in Bonsai, and wiring a Japanese maple can feel tricky at first. Yet, there’s a technique you can follow not to mess things up.
- Trim back any branches that are too long or too thick by cutting them off as close to the trunk as possible with a sharp pair of pruning shears. You don’t have to be precise; get rid of any excess growth that seems out of place.
- Wire the trunk of your tree.
- Start by wrapping the wire around the trunk where you want to bend it, using pliers if necessary to secure it.
- Once you’ve secured it, twist the wire, so it holds itself in place while you take another piece of wire and begin wrapping it around the tree. At that point, start at the top of where you just secured your first piece of wire.
- Repeat this process until you have bound all branches with the wire and they’ve fallen into the desired shape.
How to Prune Bonsai Tree Japanese Maple
Pruning is one of the most important elements of Bonsai care. It is best to prune in the spring, but you can prune your Japanese maple anytime if necessary.
- First, you will need a pair of sharp scissors or shears and some cutting lubricant like olive oil or cooking spray.
- Find a spot on your Japanese maple where new growth has begun recently (this will be visible by small buds forming). You can use shears or scissors to cut the buds from their stems. Do not cut so far into the tree that you risk harming the healthy branches; instead, stop about halfway through the branch.
- Repeat this process until you’ve removed all excess growth from the plant.
How to Make Cuts to a Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree
Japanese maple Bonsai trees are particularly demanding and require more frequent pruning than other types of Bonsai.
Here’s how to make cuts to your Japanese maple:
- Use a sharp knife or pruning shears. Dull blades can cause damage to the plant’s bark and roots.
- Make your cut at an angle near a bud that faces outward. This will encourage new growth and prevent pathogens from breaking into the trunk or roots.
- Try not to cut too deep — stop just as you see white sap oozing. If no sap is coming out, your cut may be too deep, and you should consider covering it up with some kind of sealant. For this purpose, you can use tree glue or sawdust mixed with water (the kind used for wood floors).
Bonsai Tree Japanese Maple Styles
The Japanese maple is a majestic tree because it’s very hardy and can be shaped in various styles. The “slanting branch” style is the most common, where the branches are trained to grow in a slanting direction. This creates an interesting look that will impress your house guests.
Another popular option is the “hanging branch” style. With this method, the branches grow downward and away from the tree’s trunk. This creates an unusual shape that draws attention and distinguishes it from other trees in your garden or yard.
The third common style is known as the “round broom.” This style involves shaping your Bonsai to look like a broom with many branches growing from one side of its trunk.
Tools Needed for Bonsai Tree Japanese Maple Pruning
The tools you need to prune your Japanese maple can vary, but here are some basic tools you need.
- Pruning shears
- Wire cutter
- Wire stripper
- Hand pruner
- Bonsai tree scissors
The Japanese maple Bonsai tree adds a touch of class to any residence or office. Its small size and low maintenance requirements make it an easy plant to take care of, and its vibrant colors will brighten up any room. If you are looking for a way to add some life and color to your living space, this is the perfect option!