The trident maple bonsai is native to Korea, China and Japan. Also known as Acer Buergerianum, it is one of the most desirable trees for bonsai training because it reaches an appearance of maturity fairly quickly. With leaves that turn to lovely shades of pale orange and muted red, it is a majestic tree that takes well to being groomed as a bonsai.
Trident maple bonsai can be easily grown from seeds, from air layering or from cuttings. When grown from seeds, plant in the spring as soon as the seed ripens. When air layering, the best time to start an air layer is late spring. Softwood cuttings are best taken in summer, while hardwood cuttings should be taken in Winter.
Trident maples are suitable to being grown outside. The best location is to select one that receives full sun. In summer, it is best if the tree receives sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Especially for young plants and those with weakened roots, shade in the scorching after noon sun will prevent leaf burn.
Trident maples bonsai, like all bonsai trees, will require frequent watering. Don’t overwater. The soil should not be allowed to completely dry. Take special care during summer when the heat causes water to evaporate much faster.
Because the roots of the trident maple bonsai contain a lot of moisture, it is particularly susceptible to winter frost. Proper insulation should be applied, especially so when temperatures fall below -5C.
Apply fertilizer in the spring, when buds start to ripen. Once a week is ideal, moving to once every two weeks after the first month. Your trident maple will also require repotting annually. Roots of this bonsai can tolerate aggressive pruning.
The trident maple bonsai is known to produce thick foliage, especially around the top portion. Prune regularly to thin the leaves to make way for sunlight to reach the inner and lower branches and leaves of the tree. This will ensure that your tree is healthy all around.
When pruning leaves, defoliation and pinching are both suitable techniques. Defoliation in particular will create dramatically small leaves on your bonsai. When pruning, it is advisable to wait until a new branch forms 3 to 5 pairs of leaf nodes before pruning it back to 2 pairs of leaf nodes. When pruning branches, especially large branches, this is best done in late fall, after the tree has shed its leaves. This prevents excess sap loss, which can weaken it.
The trident maple is a versatile tree that can be trained in almost all of the forms and styles of bonsai, with the exception of the formal broom. This is another reason why this tree enjoys popularity among bonsai enthusiasts, regardless of skill level.
When choosing the techniques you will use to train your trident maple, remember that the trunks and the branches of this tree grow fast and mark easily. Be cautious when using the wiring technique. Other methods, such as grafting, deadwood, defoliation and clamping may also be used at the discretion of the bonsai master.