The Maple bonsai is one of the most popular bonsai trees around. The maple’s popularity stems from several factors. The maple has a very nice form. It’s a beautiful tree that naturally grows upright, has tiny leaves that grow lush and adapts quite well to being kept in a container. It also responds well to being pruned and being shaped to achieve your desired form.
There are several varieties of maple that are popularly adapted into bonsai. There’s the Trident, the Japanese Maple and the Red Maple. Each specie varies in their strength and growth rate and needs specific care instructions.
Planting and Transplanting Maple Bonsai
The best time to plant or transplant your maple bonsai is in the early spring, just as the buds are about to swell. During this time, your maple is experiencing rapid root growth, which makes gives it the best chance of surviving being transplanted.
To transplant your maple, remove it carefully from its old container. Place it on a clean surface and gently remove excess soil from its roots. Check to make sure the roots are healthy. If you see roots that are damaged or wilted, you should prune them.
To prune the damaged roots from your maple, use sterile pruning shears. When you are transplanting your maple in early spring, you can trim as much as 65% of your maple’s roots. However, when transplanting at any other time of the year, it is best to limit the trimming to only as much as you need and keep it well below 30% of the entire root system.
You can now move the maple to its new container.
Soil Requirements and Potting your Maple
The best type of container for your maple is one with good drainage and a depth that is two-thirds the height of your maple. Use standard bonsai potting soil, which should provide excellent drainage. The soil will occupy only the bottom one-third to one-half of your container.
When planting your maple, put the maple in the middle of your container. The roots should be evenly placed. Once in, add soil and press around the bonsai to make sure it stays upright.
Maples prefer moist soil conditions. During spring and summer, you need to water it once daily. In winter, water more infrequently to prevent the roots from frost damage.
When watering a newly transplanted maple, use room temperature water and water at the base of the plant until you see water trickle out of the drainage holes of your container.
Different varieties of maple may need different amount of sunlight. But in general, maple trees thrive in a location that receives partial sun. A good location would be one that receives lots of sunlight during the day, but offers full shade against the hot afternoon sun.
Depending on the stage of growth where your maple bonsai is, you should fertilize accordingly. During periods of rapid growth, choose a fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen. For older maple bonsais, use slow release fertilizer that has less nitrogen.
Even after your maple has settled into its new pot, you will still need to prune its roots every now and then. To prune the roots, you need to remove the bonsai from its container carefully, and follow the instructions as if you are transplanting them.
Pruning branches and leaves will help you create a lovely, well proportioned bonsai. To prune branches, cut the branches away and apply wound dressing putty on the wound. To prune the leaves, you have to pinch back the internodes. An internode is the space in between a pair of branches to the next one. Ideally, there should be only 2 internodes.
Shaping your Maple Bonsai
We all want our maple trees to grow into a pleasing form. In order to guide the growth of your bonsai it helps to wire it at the right time. The best time to wire your maple is during winter, when the leaves fall off. This allows you to see the structure of your maple, making wiring easier.