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.

‘Arakawa’ Japanese Maple early Summer pruning

This arakawa has already had one haircut this spring, and has continued to grow denser. In order to keep the internodes short, I am continuing to cut back any extension growth back to the first (or second) node.

Before work

Additionally, I removed one of each pair of leaves in the crown, and outer, stronger shoots.

After work

Finally, I weakened the entrance side of the thread graft that was applied in March this year.

Weakening the graft on the entrance side

It is nearly ready to separate, but I’d like to see the cambium fuse just a bit more at the exit side:

Scuffing up the union on the exit side.

The apex area, while thinned out, looks a bit high above the rest of the foliage. I am slowly allowing the tree to grow taller and wider, so it may look a bit disassociated for now, but I am trying to keep it from getting too congested.

Additionally, the graft will be shortened when it is separated. Stay tuned for more updates!

Japanese Maple Spring Cleaning

A couple weeks ago, readers saw the last year of struggle for this Japanese Maple. Fortunately, it is on the road to recovery, and it’s time to remove wires and handle some light pruning and perform a partial defoliation.

Here’s where we left off with the last post, and start the work:

Wires dig in quickly this time of year, and scars can remain nearly forever, so it’s important to stay vigilant. Removed…

And back on the workbench for round 2…light pruning.

And finally, partial defoliation.

Remove one leaf from each pair.
A close-up of the apex showing plenty of space for light and air circulation.

Partial defoliation allows sunlight to reach the interior of the tree, encouraging bud development closer to the trunk. This is important, as it is necessary to always have new branches growing to replace older branches. Older branches slow down in vigor, get fat and set in their ways. Replacing them gradually over time keeps the tree young and vigorous.

After unwiring and partial defoliation, the tree looks a bit wind blown, but it will settle down in a few days.

A few days later, and it’s settled down a bit.