Spring is a busy time for keeping after refined Japanese maples. In order to keep internodes short, I pinch new shoots as soon as they emerge.
Shohin Japanese maple – 6.5″ tall, 13″ wide
Because the buds open at different times, I check this tree daily to see if there are new shoots to pinch.
I leave the first pair of leaves alone and pinch the next pair as soon as I can reach them. Here’s what this looks like.
New shoots on Japanese maple – time to pinch!
I use tweezers for this work as the interior shoots are too small for me to reach with my fingers. The tweezers are handy as they can be used to separate the outer pair of leaves and then grab the young shoot inside.
Spreading the first pair of leaves apart to expose the inner shoot
After removing the interior shoot
Most of the buds on the maple opened over a period of about one week, but as I have several Japanese maples that open at different times, it can be a month of careful monitoring before the trees are all open. At that point I can let the trees grow for a while and revisit them in May to see if cutback or wiring is necessary.