Lazy Trident Maple, or Don’t ever give up!

This one took a snap frost last November which zapped all the leaves,

And I didn’t think much of it at the time. But by mid-March, all the other trees were growing except this trident.

By April, everything was ready for a haircut (including me…after a month of Corona quarantine)

A cambium check suggested the tree was still alive, so I kept it in shade, and treated it like it was still alive, watering and feeding it. Until finally, on April 25, fully 6 weeks later than the torch tridents, I noticed suddenly the buds had broken:

April 30:

Strange to see Kurume azaleas finishing blooming, Satsukis starting, and a bare trident a month them.

May 15…breathing a sigh of relief now…

Shoehorning a Trident Maple into a Shohin pot

I have had this tree for close to 20 years now, and this is probably the smallest it’s ever been. Deciding to make it into a “sumo” Shohin later meant challenges to finding a suitable pot because the base had gotten wide. It’s been in this 12″ wide Ino pot for the last few years, which is visually too big. Most Shohin pots are around 6″, which are too small. Fortunately, I found this Ikkou at 7 3/8″, that I thought would work.

The current planting:


I only had to remove a little from the heavy roots to make it work, and I tried to leave some live feeder roots on each cut to prevent dieback.

I also potted it a little deeper this time to encourage fine roots. Over time I can raise the planting depth and expose more flare. For now, here is the result.

Watered in:

Sumo Shohin trident winter work

Late Winter, in advance of repotting it into a smaller container, I wanted to get a little maintenance work completed. The cut at the back of the tree is not healing well, and needs to be cleaned up every year or two. I have had lots of requests to see the back of the tree. Usually the conversation goes like this, “how’s the back of this one look?” To which I respond, “Like I chose the right front.” And move on. Well, you asked…

Each year or two, I clean up the wound, repack it, seal it and let it continue. Several years ago, I cleaned out the rot, which has resulted in a hollow trunk through to the bottom, and filed it with a concrete-based wood filler. I applied cut paste over that and hoped for the best. The wood filler traps water though, and ultimately did not prove to be the best product for the job.

The work done:

Remove old cut paste

Carve away rotted wood

Remove the loose wood filler

Clean up the callus on the right side where it is healing

Expose the cambium around the cut

Another view:

Since the wood filler attempt, I have found epoxy putty works better as a filler for large hollows. It is long-lasting, smooth (for callus formation) and not pervious.

Epoxy putty applied:

Then covered the whole thing in cut paste.

That part of the work is complete for the year. When it is repotted in March, I’ll address the hollow from the underside too.

Last year, this tree was infested with scale. I didn’t think anything of the white eggs that covered the trunk in March, and hadn’t seen anything like it to indicate a problem. But by April, this tree was covered in large scale insects. In February this year, I noticed a few those eggs on the trunk again..

See them? How about now…

Yesterday I hit all trees with dormant oil spray. Tonight after cleaning up the wound in the back of the tree, I rubbed alcohol on the eggs too.