Trident maple spring pruning

Things are slowing down a bit now, except for the tridents and black pines. It’s a bit too early to candle-cut the pines (I do this 100 days before our average first frost).

This trident was wired over the winter, secondary branches mostly, and allowed to grow in March. I want good movement, good taper, and no bulges at the cuts. Here is a shot before leafing out this spring.

First round of pruning in April.

Second round in May, as wires were biting in, they were located with the help of a leafless photo, and removed. I also went branch by branch, eliminating strong shoots, clusters, and those growing from the bottom sides of branches. This will help keep those secondary to tertiary branch transitions smoother.

Third cut back in June was another rounding out, which really just slows down the strong shoots and gives weaker ones a chance.

In July, I’ll go back and prune hard again, reducing shoots down to evenly-sized pairs, wire out some new growth, and let it grow again.

Spring pruning of a Satsuki azalea, ‘Kinsai’

This year’s blooming was spectacular. The blooms covered the entire tree, they were a deep red, and due to selective pruning over the last few years, only a few flowers of the “mother variety”. Here is the show.

And when the blooms begin to fade, it’s time to cut them off.

I used those small red-handled defoliating scissors, hinged at the base to spring back open, making the job a bit easier. And, starting from the top and working my way down, the flowers were trimmed off.

But when I get to the reverted, mother variety flowers, it’s important to remove more than just the bud. The entire shoot or branch needs to go, to prevent their flowers from taking over the tree. Kinsai are adored for the deep red, thin petal flowers. Here is an example of the mother variety flower:

Here is another example where 3 shoots emerge, 2 reverted and one hasn’t. So I can trim back the two, and leave the third.

And I throw these away so I don’t accidentally strike cuttings from these shoots. My luck, those would be the ones to root.

Money shot with all flowers removed.

Next up is pruning. As azalea twigs age, they constrict and weaken, so it is important to cut hard and replace old with new, always renewing the tree and keeping it young.

Interior twigs that have died are removed.

After the first round of pruning:

Next up, just a little wiring to spread out branches and fill in some of the voids.

Since I mentioned cuttings, so far I haven’t had much luck with them. Maybe a 10% strike rate so far, but I decided to try again. This time, I struck 44 cuttings, so let’s see next year how many, if any, remain.

The left tray is all Kinsai, the right tray has Kinsai on the bottom, and another cultivar at the top…the name is lost, but I suspect it is ‘Matsunami’.

A night shot a few days later.

Summer work on a shohin Crapapple

I wired this little crab in April as the new growth was emerging. It’s branches thicken up pretty quickly, and become stubborn, so wiring green shoots is the best way to ensure some movement. April 9:

Just under 7 weeks later, the wire was just starting to cut in:

Wires removed:

The tree has 4 apples growing this year, the first time fruit has set since I bought it back in 2016 or ‘17.

I also pruned it back to a nicer shape, but didn’t want to go hard enough on it that the fruits may fail…we shall see if I accomplished that objective.

If the tree continues to grow, it will be cut back to 1-2 nodes throughout the rest of the growing season. The result should be primary branches with 2-3 bifurcations, each with their own tertiary branches. and with the present height at 7 1/4” tall, I still have a little room for growth to keep it within the 8” height guideline for shohin bonsai