I’ve been working to develop the ramification on my trident maple for several years now but the progress has been slow. This year I’m trying something different to see if I can speed up the process.
I usually let new shoots run a bit before trimming them and I defoliate the tree 2-4 times a year depending on its vigor. This year I’m going to keep new growth in check by maintaining the tree’s silhouette throughout the growing season. To do this, I will trim all vigorous shoots as they emerge, even if this means working on the tree every few days.
That’s the plan anyway – it’s early April now and I’m already behind! You can see in the photo below that the apex has rounded out some and a few shoots are breaking away from the silhouette.
Trident maple – healthy apex
I cut back all shoots that were leaving the general silhouette and left the interior branches alone. When the new leaves harden off, it will be time to defoliate – another opportunity to cut elongating shoots.
After removing the new shoots
I’m hoping that keeping the vigorous shoots in check will improve the tree’s balance. If, however, I don’t see much progress by the end of the year, I’ll look to try yet another approach next spring.
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Looks good Jonas.
Can you be more specific as what you mean “progress has been slow”? How do the branches appear? How do they develop? How would you rather they develop? Sorry if I’m probing too much, but I’m just trying to wrap my head around the situation. I’m working on my doctorate at the University of California, Riverside in plant physiology (mainly resource use efficiency of plants…i.e. water, nutrients, light, allocation of sugars, etc.) Maybe we can put our heads together to develop different strategies if this one doesn’t work out. Feel free to contact me via email.
Jonas Dupuich says
Hi Ryan – thanks for the good questions. By slow progress I mean that I haven’t increased the overall branch density as quickly as I’d like. Increasing branch density while maintaining a full silhouette is typically slow work. An alternative is cutting back heavily and developing new branches from scratch, but since the basics are in place on this tree, I’m taking the slow road and working with what I have. I’m hoping that I can divert energy into the tree’s interior by removing vigorous exterior shoots as they develop.
It’s great to hear that you’re studying plant physiology – I think we’d all be curious to hear if your work has led to any insights for bonsai (especially if you have ideas for developing ume, one of the more stubborn deciduous bonsai varieties). I’ll let you know if I think of any specific questions – please feel free to email ideas anytime.