Saturday, 19 November 2016

My New Maple Tree

I hope my tone doesn’t offend any beginners, but some people seriously think this is the best way to start bonsai. Some nurseries even sell “Bonsai Kits” which consist of a small bonsai pot, some soil and a few seeds.

Granted it is possible to start bonsai from seed, and I’ve tried it myself, but it takes a lot of time and patience to grow a decent tree that way. And you certainly shouldn’t be planting a seed straight into a bonsai pot because the resulting tree will always remain tiny if it’s given limited space to grow roots.

I don’t often plant seeds anymore and I didn’t plant this one. I found this little seedling growing in a pot alongside one of my trees a few days ago and I couldn’t bear to kill it, so I moved it into a cut down bottle and now I’m waiting to see if it survives.

 In such a small pot it’s not going to grow very quickly. If left to grow unrestricted, it will probably reach about the size of the tree standing to its left here in a year’s time.

The larger tree is one of the 23 seedlings I rescued from another pot a year ago. The time has come for me to make some decisions about their future. I’m hoping to move some of them into bigger pots if I can find the space to put them. I’ll probably wire a little movement into some of the trunks and I’m also contemplating experimenting with fusing a few of them together to create one thicker tree.

That’s the great thing about free material – it gives me the opportunity to do all kinds of weird experiments.

My best maple tree, however, certainly wasn’t grown this way. It was five feet tall when I bought it as nursery stock, and yet it will always be a small bonsai. Large trees need to spend years in the ground before they start their life as bonsai.

2 comments so far. I hope you'll join the discussion.

  1. Hi, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I've also been trying to get a few jap maples going. I got some seeds but that hasn't produced results yet. I just got a small cutting today and am hoping that it will root. I'm in Jhb, do you think that keeping the soil moist all the time will get better results?

    1. You don't want it to be too wet, but you should never let it dry out either.

      I don't find Japanese Maples as easy to work with as Tridents, but I've had some success rooting fairly thick Japanese Maple cuttings in July, but at this time of year it's probably best to put it in a shady area and cover it with plastic to keep it humid. If the cutting is small enough you could try a set-up similar to the one I showed in this post:

      Have you considered joining a club? It's a great way to learn about bonsai and possibly even pick up some small trees off the club raffle. I'm in Joburg too and my club meets on the second Saturday of ever month.