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 Japanese Maple Bonsai

 By Erik A. Olsen

Growing bonsai trees are an exciting way to put your true creativity to the test. When getting involved with bonsai, you will quickly discover that you have so many choices, which can make the process a little confusing. One excellent tree to consider is the Japanese Maple bonsai, which is easy to grow, hardy, and the outcome truly, amazing. The Japanese Maple bonsai is officially called Acer Palmatum, which is again, a great candidate for this type of miniature growing. This particular type of tree generally shows both juvenile and adult characteristics. While in the wild they can grow to great heights, if pruned and trained, they can be maintained as a small tree, perfect for bonsai.

When choosing your Japanese Maple bonsai, we recommend you go with a trunk that is four inches in diameter or more. With this, you will be able to train the tree into a number of styles. However, if you want to go with the Apex or Taper styles, you would need a Japanese Maple bonsai that has one to two trunk chops. The nice thing about the Japanese Maple is that this tree is affordable and when in the spring months, you will enjoy a magnificent display of red and purple foliage. In addition, you can grow the Japanese Maple bonsai from seedlings or if you prefer, purchase one that is already started, typically four to six inches tall.

The thing with the Japanese Maple bonsai is that on occasion, the tree will sprout from adventitious buds, which are dormant buds located between the internodes. In fact, after a trunk chop, the tree may very well produce a spiral of branches from dormant buds, but with this, it would only be from the nodal points. When looking at the tree, the nodes would be clearly visible as bands on the young trees, the ones that have not yet reached a mature bark. Therefore, if you are looking at various seedlings or other stock for your bonsai, always take time to look at this inter-nodal spacing. Then, plant to have only the branches there or trunk chopping these long internode sections out so you can grow a new trunk line.

Now, people who have grown Japanese Maple bonsai will tell you that when looking at seedlings, they go with vigorous ones with large and low internodes. With this, they can use them for larger stock so the lowest branch of the bonsai will measure at least six inches tall. Then, you should keep the seedlings in small containers, pruned down until the roots have a chance to colonize the pots while slowing down the growth process prior to selecting a new trunk line. In addition to being an easy way to start the Japanese Maple bonsai, this provides you with the benefit of adding soft curves to the lower part of the tree, which looks amazing.

You might also consider the semi-dwarf species of the Japanese Maple bonsai, which looks great grown in the shade of your garden or in a larger size pot. The nice thing about this particular species is that the color of the leaves changes often. Because of the slow growth pattern, you will enjoy very colorful and distinctive foliage unlike any other tree used for bonsai. As an example, the new, springtime leaves are typically a blazing red color that will thin as they mature, which lightens them to a more pink-red color with nice, green undertones. Then in the summer months, the leaves will have a greenish-red cast although the petioles and veins will remain bright red. Finally, the fall months produce leaves with the edges turning a dark pink-red color that soon spreads to the entire leaf. After all the leaves have changed, you end up with a Japanese Maple bonsai that is solid scarlet, a truly magnificent tree.
 

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