How Should I Prune this Japanese Maple? (photos)

love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)June 26, 2010

I live in northern Florida and have had this Japanese Maple growing in a pot for several years. By keeping it in the shade, it has done really well. While it was in a pot against the exterior wall of the house, I didn't pay attention to its form. I am putting in a new large bed in the yard and I just planted it in a shady spot beneath a large oak. Now I notice that it has a double leader. Even worse (I think it is worse), the side leader has outgrown the main leader. Is there anyway to correct the form of this tree?

1) What variety of Japanese Maple is this? Can you tell from the photos?

2 Should I prune any of the branches? If so, which branches? I have gone to numerous websites on how to prune Japanese Maples, but mine just does not have the umbrella canopy that they say is desired. I don't know if it due to the variety, the lack of proper pruning, or the growing against the side of the house.

Here are the photos. Note that they are taken from different angles around the tree.

Sure do appreciate the help and good advice!


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the 4th pic shows the main leader is already split.

since the side leader is pretty large, maybe 40% of the plant, you should wait till the winter (when its dormant) to prune it off.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 3:00AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Thank you for the advice, houstontexas123. Yes, the side leader may be more like 50-60% of the tree, since it has outgrown the main leader. It is considerably taller than the main leader. So I can prune it off this winter? I think it will look much better, if I can remove that much of the tree. Should I thin it out a little now - remove a few of the side branches - on that leader, so less growth goes into that branch for the next six months?

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 10:01AM
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That has some funky branch structure. I'd definitely cut the lower one and probably the crooked crossing branch. Tough to say without seeing it in person but it needs work. It's probably moot anyway if you've just now planted this in 95 degree weather. This is not the time to transplant temperate climate trees, especially ones that are ill adapted to heat.

I couldn't tell you what variety it is.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 12:53PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Oh, it's doing fine and used to the heat. Those photos were taken a week after planting. It was thoroughly watered before planting and frequently water since planting. It hasn't missed a beat - no signs of stress whatsoever. Since it is in full shade, the heat doesn't worry me at all.

I do worry about the correct pruning. After more research, I found that the JM were multi-trunked in most photos. So confusion has set in. Not sure what to do now. Usually, the right answer comes after mulling in around for awhile. And from good advice from the wonderful people on GardenWeb. :)

Back to tearing out the last of the five pittosporum.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 1:56PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Tag says:
Acer palmatum
Atropurpureum Nana

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 9:42AM
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dsb22(z7 VA)

My initial thought was also to prune that tall leader. However, after doing a search on Atropurpureum Nana,I'm thinking this branching structure may be characteristic of the cultivar. I think that's what you're saying in your last post too. Given that, I would only do some minor trimming, just to tidy it up, like getting rid of branches that bend towards the center of the tree. I recently found a book at my local library that had some tips on how the Japanese prune their JMs. JMs were only a small section of the book, but it was very helpful. The title was "Niwaki: Pruning, Training and Shaping Japanese Garden Trees" by Jake Hobson. It's also on Amazon.

Here is a link that might be useful: Atropurpureum Nana

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 6:01PM
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