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When/how to prune a baby Japanese maple?

Posted by heckabore Zone9/Sunset15 (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 29, 07 at 22:26

I just transplanted a 4-ft. tall Japanese maple that started as a volunteer in my yard. I potted it up when it was tiny (two years ago) and just now moved it into a 5-gallon pot. It is growing in a shady area (underneath a canopy of its parents) and has just one central leader and lots of wire-thin branches. It was growing nearly horizontal, so I staked it to grow upright, but now I kind of miss the old shape--it looks really odd now, growing straight up with lots of little branches from one straight trunk--almost like a Japanese maple Christmas tree! When and how do I prune it so it becomes a multitrunked tree (all of the other Japanese maples in my yard are multitrunked), or at least prune off the bottom branches?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: When/how to prune a baby Japanese maple?

Prune only when dormant or not in a growth spurt if you are not JM experinced I'd suggest waiting til fall after leaf fall then you'd be ok ...the only way I know to "make a multi trunked tree is to butcher the thing doen to a nubbin and let it grow back wit a bunch of new brancheds that would beconme trunks ...I do not suggest doing that ...the form may be natural to your seedling but My insionct is that it its a fertilization prioblem and possibly too much shade... I am NOT a fertilizer expert but if others agree maybe someone would have an idea ... My other instinct is to tell you to plant that sucka out get it out of the pot pronto and plant it somewhere it get a little more sun and it may grow to a less "santa" form...David

RE: When/how to prune a baby Japanese maple?

Well it isn't necessarily unnatural for JMs to become multitrunked to an extent. There are several vase type cultivars (ie 'seiryu') that tend to send out multiple strong limbs that become trunks. The loss of the terminal bud often causes multitrunked behavior...and it is highly dependent on the genetics as to whether it will do this.

Having said that...fertilizer and poor growing conditions could cause this as well.

I personally like to have a combination of the two...multitrunked and single leader trees (depending on the variety). However, I think too much multitrunking can look bad.

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