Bud pinching Japanese Maples

In the spring, with healthy Japanese maples, bud-pinching is a common technique to keep internodes short on refined trees. It is a simple procedure, and needs to be performed about daily as Japanese maples are waking up in the spring.

The earlier you can identify the 2nd node and remove it, the shorter the internode will remain. In this example, I’ve waited about a day too long, but it helps illustrate the process.

Here is the extending new shoot:

Here is a markup showing the leaves in the 1st in blue, where to pinch out the second node in a yellow X, and the resulting length of the halted internode:

This tree is growing stronger on the top and left, and slower on the lower right, so careful attention will be required to keep up with the lower right side, as shown in the background below.

A couple weeks later, the maple is still growing, and I had a chance to pinch back more of the shoots.

The result is a lot of tips removed, and the profile is improved, but the density is still the same.


I will continue feeding, and in June, I’ll partly defoliate the tree to encourage back-budding. Meanwhile, I’ll keep a close eye out for wires starting to dig in.

Hawthorn winter pruning and wiring

This hawthorn has grown rather slowly over the last few years, and I attribute it (right or wrong) to my increased use of fungicides. Regardless, over the last few years, I have let it mostly grow, and now it’s time to sort out what it’s done.

The tree has a tendency to throw upward- and downward-growing shoots at junctions. It makes the tree look more ramified than maybe it is, but time to clean it up.

Fall and winter shots to start:


In late January, I applied a copious application of dormant oil to all the trees. In February, the buds were already turning red, so it was time to get the work going. Overall, I want to broaden the canopy, and allow it to become rounder, where now it is a bit spade-shaped.

This tree is very different from left to right. The left side is quite well developed from only 2 main branches, and the right side has 3 main, plus a back branch contributing; and is still relatively sparse. The right side has branches cascading down more to fill in space, while the left side has more graceful, upward-reaching and well-spaced branches usually seen in deciduous trees. Ideally, the right side needs to start looking more like the left. Pruning and wiring with this also in mind…

While taking some photos, I noticed a shoot had some thorns. This is one of only a few times the tree has produced thorns, but it still when the shoots are allowed to run long. I wonder if thorns are any indication that flowers will form; the tree has yet to flower again since I collected it in bloom.

I also found a single gall, which was removed.

While taking stock of the tree, I also noticed a colony of scale insects on an upper back branch:

Fortunately the dormant oil seems to have done its job, as they were not juicy, mainly just shells.

And the same branch cleaned off. I’ll be sure to hit it again with another shot of treatment this week.

The apex is congested with four branches emerging from basically one spot. Each of those branches fills in needed space, so the challenge is to find other branches to fill the canopy area left open by removing one or two of these four.

1 and 2 move to the left, and 2 will be easiest to replace. 3 is the true apex, and 4 goes back and to the right; cascading down into an area that is still thin, 6 years after removing a main branch coming from the trunk chop. Here is branch 2:

Because the left side has upward-growing branches, it should be easier to fill in the space later with wire. So now it’s a matter of cleaning up the branches, trimming clusters back to pairs, and replacing heavy branches with finer ones.

Finally, most branches have been wired.

And I wanted to tighten up the center of the tree just a little, by pulling the tallest main branch in a bit to the left with a guy-wire. The difference is subtle, but effective.

Then, adjusting the branches again slightly. Work complete…until repotting time.

This year, it will go into a rectangle pot for a change. It’s a Shuho from Tokoname, with patina developed to an appropriate level for this tree. It’s slightly wider and shallower than the current oval Yamafusa, and the glaze is a cooler color cream; less yellow than the Yamafusa.

And in March, it was repotting time.

The roots had grown considerably, as usual. Here is one large knot I took the time to eliminate this time as well, to help it sit flatter in this shallower pot.

Checking fit and front…

Tied in…

Soil worked in:

Watered well:

Night shot:

And a few weeks later, we are off to the races!

I’ll let it grow for a while, and then give it a proper haircut.

New Spring Growth shots

This not-great zelkova was budding out the other day, and I noticed the buds nearly matched the pink pot color of this Shibakatsu pot:

With this theme in mind, I shot a few more trees’ freshly-opening spring growth complimenting…or contrasting with the pot color as the background. Happy spring.

Chojubai quince in a Byron Myrick pot:

Japanese Maple, Koyo:

Crabapple, flower buds! Roy Minarai pot:

Chinese Quince, Heian Kouso pot:

2 different uses in blue Shuho pots:

Ginkgo in an Ino:

Hawthorn in an old Shuho: