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coffeehound
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Considering a Japanese Red Dragon Maple

I've been interested in bonsai for years, but have just never gotten around to being involved. That said, I would really like to start now, and to that end I've started looking around at some of the local nurseries and garden centers for potential trees to use. I have decided on a Japanese Red Dragon Maple from one of the local Mom & Pop landscaping businesses, mainly because they're not already 5 and 6 feet tall like the ones from Home Depot.

But they are 3-4 feet tall, and I'm wondering if even this is too tall to start a bonsai?

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Gnome
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Re: Considering a Japanese Red Dragon Maple

coffeehound,
But they are 3-4 feet tall, and I'm wondering if even this is too tall to start a bonsai?
No, not for a Maple which will back-bud very low on the trunk. It is not uncommon to grow a trunk out for a number of years and then cut it back, or "chop it" as it is commonly called.

But, and isn't there always a but, named varieties of Japanese Maples are very often grafted onto a generic understock. This means that if you cut it back below the graft you will end up with a green Maple rather than than the variety you intended.

Named varieties intended for bonsai can be grown from cuttings but you will not likely find such at a local garden center. Some bonsai nurseries make grafts low at the crown of the roots, but again not likely to be found at most retailers.

Seedlings can make fine bonsai but they will not be a named cultivar. Some Maples set seed that stay reasonably true to type so you have some expectation that they will be similar to the parent.

Norm

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coffeehound
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Re: Considering a Japanese Red Dragon Maple

Well, that's really good to know. I'm not sure if they are cultivating their own plants or not (if they are, that area is well out of sight) but if not, would they know if their trees are grafted in such a manner or even be honest about it, do you think?

tomc
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Re: Considering a Japanese Red Dragon Maple

If you hope to care for bonsai, you will have to practice diagnosing your tree(s). The presence (or absence) of a graft at the base of preffered trees is about as good a place to start as any.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Considering a Japanese Red Dragon Maple

Yeah, just look for the graft union site:

e.g.:


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https://gardendoctor.files.wordpress.com ... apple1.jpg

If you are cutting back your tree, don't cut below that.
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koiboy01
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Re: Considering a Japanese Red Dragon Maple

Hi,
You can easily see where the graft as been made in fact some are so obvious that they look terrible.
koiboy01
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coffeehound
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Re: Considering a Japanese Red Dragon Maple

After visiting a more specialized gardening shop outside of town, I decided to go with something a little more forgiving for my first tree. I now have a beautiful hinoki on my back porch that I'll be learning with, and the shop I bought from has a class on bonsai trees in the spring, which will be nice. Pics coming soon!

I still have my sights set on a red maple (I love how different they are from all the green trees in the world) and thank you all for your help and advice.

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