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Thread: Rooting Japanese Maple cuttings for Bonsai?

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    swords's Avatar
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    Rooting Japanese Maple cuttings for Bonsai?

    I finally broke down and ordered a red Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) off Ebay to reduce to bonsai starts. The only local nurseries which have them want $100-$200 for the same size 4 ft tree I ordered for $20 (hell ova markup!). I realize it will be all long and twiggy and I won't get to bonsai until at least next year with the cuttings I make this year - no matter as I FINALLY will have a blood red maple (and probly plenty to trade) but I was wondering if any of you have made successful cuttings of these or other woody plants and have any tips for me, so to speak.

    Are rooting hormones or powders neccesary? I never use them on other plants but I've never tried to root a woody plant. My book on plant propagation says to strip off the outer coat on the part going under the soil and cut all leaves in half to encourage better rooting from the inner flesh on tree cuttings. I already do those things on Nep cuttings. I will be planting the tree cuttings in the fired clay grit I use for cacti & succulents so it will have bonsai ready roots that will fall out of the soil when the time is ready to move them.

    To quicken the tree starts for next year (double the growth rate essentially) can I put them under lights indoors overwinter instead of letting them go dormant as they should or will they die? I know they can't be treated that way every year since they need sleep but what about the first year?

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    clippity-clip-clip Clue's Avatar
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    Hack down the tree to leave a couple of growing points. Reduce the roots to the same ratio as the leaves and growth left. Be patient. It'll reduce the size of its leaves and try to die, but mine didn't. Shape as preferred.

    Use excess new growth for Softwood cuttings, and experiment with them.
    "I, for one, can't wait to grow Nepenthes extincta!"
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    The Consuming Flame EdaxFlamma's Avatar
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    I personally don't know that I would stress the plant that much all at one... Cutting one third of the entire plant back at a time is my normal limit (maybe more if I have been growing the plant and know how it will react). Also if it is a true "Blood Red" japanese maple it may very well be grafted onto a different rootstock in which case rooting will be either very, very difficult or impossible.

    I would say yes on the hormone. At the very worst it will help combat infection if you get the stuff with the fungicide in it. Also one person's rooting techniques in one area can never be guaranteed to work for someone else. Some of our family friends own a nursery and all the different nurseries in the area covet their hollys because no one else can get them to root even with the same techniques.

    One technique that they use at the nursery for woody plants is to make their cut then take the blade of a knife and just strip the outer layer of bark/whatever else they end up taking with it from one side of the cutting before treating it to allow a fuller callus. Basically they just hold the leafy end of the cutting and just make one quarter inch (long) swipe of the blade at the lower portion of the cutting. Imagine you are making a tiny spear but don't take THAT much off haha just one little shaving.

    It's worth a shot. If you have success let me know. Bonsai was my first love before CP's came into my life. If you want to try grafting that is another option. Get a small green japanese maple from seed (I have a ton if you want them and I can send them once I'm back home in summer) and look up the different grafting methods and play Dr. Frankenstein 'til your hearts content.

    Good luck!
    -J.P.
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    Your one and only pest! Ant's Avatar
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    Um, not sure if it helps, but when ever I search "how to root a tree" it says to air layering works.

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    I've got a magic window! elgecko's Avatar
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    I've never had success rooting Maples cuttings. I have not tried many, but all I did failed. I too was trying Red Maples.
    I think you would have better luck air layer it. I think that's what is recommended in all my bonsai books I have.


    My Grow List Updated 8/24/17

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    swords's Avatar
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    Thanks for the warnings guys, I won't lumberjack the whole thing then as I'd planned. I'll just try a few tip cuttings and try an air layer or two and let the main plant live in a nice big pot for the summer. Maybe that'll be my 8 hands bonsai...

    Any idea why they don't root well, is it because of the red leaves not photosynthesizing enough?

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    Your one and only pest! Ant's Avatar
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    I think it is just that the stems don't have enough energy stored to make roots, not the color of the leaves.

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    Hort. School dropout X 2
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    TRy goglin propaating japanese maples. Gr8 instruction for it on the garden web.
    LMO
    Every seed that you plant ,doesn't sprout.
    Every seed that sprouts, doesn't make it to maturity.
    Every cutting that you stick doesn't grow roots.
    Every cutting that roots doesn't grow to a small plant.
    Every small plant doesn't reach maturity.


    Who needs speelcheck?

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