How to shape a japanese maple tree


Trimming Japanese Maple Trees | Top 5 Tips for Pruning Japanese Maples

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Japanese Maples

Japanese Maples, also known as Lace Leaf, are some of the most attractive and valuable trees in any garden, so if you are lucky enough to have one on your property, you want to treat it right. When the leaves fall off and the subtle shape of a Japanese maple’s trunk is revealed during the winter months, it can be tempting to get the clippers out and get to work. These trees are among the most difficult and complicated to prune. It takes the skill and talent of a Portland, OR tree pruning service to work with these trees and to shape, define, and encourage their inherently beautiful nature. That’s why we recommend leaving such fine tree care to professional Portland arborists.

It has been said that pruning is a science and an art. Pruning is a science because it involves knowledge of plant biology and botany. It is an art because it involves understanding aesthetic beauty. An arborist or horticulturist must understand both aspects in order to be successful with the job at hand. Pruning Japanese maples are no exception. Due to the complex nature of their branching patterns, and their position of great value in the landscape, Japanese maples require expert pruning from the best experienced Portland, Oregon arborists. In this post, our leading arborists discuss why and when to prune Japanese maples. We also explore some of the nuances of aesthetic pruning that are necessary to properly care for these elegant trees.

Why Prune Japanese Maples?

There are several reasons to prune. The primary reasons are related to the health of the tree, while aesthetics also play a big part.

  • To direct growth and structure. By pruning, you can direct growth habits and influence the structure of the tree as it grows.
  • Improve airflow. Increased airflow through branches decreases the likelihood of disease.
  • Removal of dead, diseased, or damaged branches. These should always be removed first for the health of the tree.
  • Prevent unwanted growth. If a branch is growing into a power line, house eave, or other unwanted areas, it should be removed.
  • Reduce weight. If a branch is too heavy, trimming can reduce its weight.

When to Prune Japanese Maple Trees

The best time to trim most ornamental and fruit trees is during the winter months while they are dormant. For Japanese maples, it is recommended to do structural pruning in the winter and wait until late spring, after the leaves come out, for fine pruning. Summer can also be a good time for removing larger branches and for removing dead, damaged, or diseased wood.

Aesthetic Pruning

Know the tree. Spend some time getting to know its structure. What branches need to be pruned? Which branch is the leader or apex branch? Are there competing or crossing branches? What about the overall health of the tree? What is the desired form of the tree? These questions need to be answered in order for your landscape to look its best. Trimming takes time and it will not look good half done. Rather than making a mistake that threatens the life of your Japanese maple, contact our Portland tree pruning service for ongoing expertise and support.

Tips for Trimming Japanese Maple Trees From A Leading Arborist

If you’re planning to prune a Japanese maple yourself, follow these guidelines for best results:

  1. Prune to remove dead branches mostly on the interior.
  2. Avoid trying to majorly reshape. This will leave unsightly holes in the canopy.
  3. Avoid shearing. This will create growth inconsistent with the flowing, drooping branches.
  4. Use clean cuts back to lateral branches or buds.
  5. Disinfect your tools after each tree to prevent the spread of disease.

Our #1 Tip for Pruning Japanese maples: Call Us. It takes years of experience to learn how to do a good job trimming a Japanese maple. Extensive training in proper techniques is necessary. In addition to pruning skills, there are other key variables to consider, such as having the proper tools and avoiding the spread of disease and pathogens. Finally, it takes a fair amount of time to do the job right. Call our Portland arborists, your best tree service solution in Oregon, today for the health of your Japanese maples.

Contact Your Top-Rated Pruning Experts In Portland Today

If you have questions about your Japanese maple, please contact the tree experts near you at Urban Forest Pro by phone at 503-479-5921 or fill out our online contact form and we’ll get back to you.

Learn to Prune Japanese Maples

Fine Gardening Project Guides

Japanese maples are elegant in all seasons, with delicate leaves, fine fall color, and the loveliest branch patterns in the world. The two most common forms of this tree are the upright, understory tree (Acer palmatum and cvs.) and its little brother, the Japanese laceleaf maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum and cvs.), a much smaller, weeping tree often used as a garden focal point. When planted in the sun, as opposed to a partly shaded understory, these trees become fully foliated rather than open and airy. Some simple pruning can restore or enhance their natural form, bringing the most out of them for summer and winter viewing.

Japanese maples less than 15 years old are prone to put on new growth that looks like a buggy whip: unattractively skinny with no side branches. This problem is exacerbated by pruning, often done by the impatient tree owner hoping to create an open look sooner than nature intended. Shortening or removing the buggy whips only stimulates more of the same. My best advice is to leave the tree alone for as long as possible. You will be surprised to find that, as the whips age, they fatten up, develop lateral branches, and turn into nice-looking scaffold limbs. Trust me. Sit on your hands and wait to start the thinning process until after the tree has aged and developed some grace.

Another practice to avoid is attempting to restrict the height of a Japanese maple. It won’t work. The tree will simply grow faster with thin, unruly branches. The width of these trees, on the other hand, can be somewhat modified.

Further reading
Enchanting Japanese Maples

Timing isn’t everything

Laceleaf-maple pruning is often called “shell pruning” because when done correctly, the top layer of branches forms a protective veil of foliage over the plant that resembles a shell. Photo: Melissa Lucas

The old gardener’s adage is “Prune when the shears are sharp”—and in general this is true. If you prune selectively, almost anytime is the right time to prune a Japanese maple. With that said, these maples are most easily pruned in winter or summer.

With the leaves out of the way in winter, it is easy to see the branch structure and, in turn, make the right cuts. In summer, however, you can judge the right amount of thinning needed to see the tree’s bones. Summer pruning also stimulates less plant growth than winter pruning, so you can get away with a little more and the tree will stay thinned out longer. I avoid pruning when the temperature is 80°F or higher, especially when the plant is located in full sun. Removing foliage will expose the tree’s thin, previously shaded bark to the light, inviting sunscald.

To avoid causing stress or stimulating unsightly growth, never remove more than one-fifth of a Japanese maple’s crown; you should also not prune a branch that is more than half the diameter of the parent stem. In addition, don’t remove more than a quarter of the foliage of any given branch. Each branch is fed by its leaves through photosynthesis. Removing too much of the foliage will starve the tree of nutrients.

If you prune selectively, almost anytime is the right time to prune a Japanese maple.

If you are going to “limb up” your tree by pruning the lowest branches, avoid stress to the plant by removing only a few at a time, not many at once. Never make one cut directly above another or opposite another limb being pruned off in the same year. That might cause decay to coalesce inside the trunk.

The trick to making Japanese maples look great is to separate the branches into over­lapping layers that don’t touch each other. Most single-stemmed plants have a series of scaffold branches that radiate in a roughly spiral fashion up the trunk. If a lateral branch from any of these scaffolds grows downward, crossing into the layer below, it should be removed or cut back to a side branch facing up and out. This is how the tree becomes layered, like a series of fans.

While the average tree can handle light pruning, all cuts wound a plant. If your maple is in poor health, make minimal cuts or limit yourself to deadwood removal. To be extra kind, avoid pruning during the tree’s low-energy times: just as leaves emerge in the spring or when leaves are dropping in the fall (just two weeks in each case).

Upright Japanese maples

Illustration: Chuck Lockhart

When pruning a Japanese maple, cut up to—but not into—the branch collar. If you cut too far out, you will leave an unsightly stub. If you cut too close to the parent stem (a flush cut), a column of rot will enter the stem. To minimize stress, dieback, and regrowth, do not remove a side branch that exceeds half the diameter of the parent stem.

You can’t change their nature

Some Japanese maples do not have especially graceful branches, possessing instead a twiggy or stiff-looking internal structure. Pruning cannot change the essential character of these trees. The wise gardener learns to appreciate plants for their own attributes and remembers that a good pruner can only reveal beauty, not create it.

Laceleaf Japanese maples

Illustration: Chuck Lockhart

Many gardeners are so intimidated by this tree’s fragile branch structure that they don’t prune it at all, letting Japanese maples turn into mounds of foliage that resemble Cousin It. Others use such a heavy hand that they wind up with a little ball of foliage on the end of a stick. Laceleaf-maple pruning is often called “shell pruning” because when done correctly, the top layer of branches forms a protective veil of foliage over the plant that resembles a shell. Because the bones of this tree are important to its overall beauty, you’ll want to keep many of the unique, twisting branches intact.

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    How to prune Japanese maple | Horticulture

    The Japanese maple is a popular tree and shrub in gardens. Its leaves give that oriental touch that we love so much, and besides, they do not need much care, although it is true that when the climate is warmer than necessary, it becomes a demanding plant.

    But even in this case, it is impossible to provide him with the best care in conditions. One is pruning, but When and how to prune Japanese maple?

    Index

    • 1 When is the Japanese maple pruned?
    • 2 How to prune a Japanese maple?
      • 2.1 Pruning a Japanese maple grown as a tree or shrub
      • 2.2 Pruning a Japanese maple bonsai
        • 2.2.1 Step by step

    When is the Japanese maple pruned?

    Image - Wikimedia / Rüdiger Wölk

    El Japanese maple This is a plant of a temperate mountain climate. It lives in areas with mild summers and very cold winters that cover the landscape with snow. Under these conditions, the tree grows in spring and summer, and in autumn and winter it enters a dormant state.

    For this reason, pruning time is late winter , when the buds are about to wake up (that is, increase in size, "swell"). In this way, the wounds we make will heal quickly, because as the plant resumes its growth, the juice will circulate through its branches somewhat faster.

    Subscribe to our Youtube channel

    How to prune a Japanese maple?

    To prune a Japanese maple, you must first know that the plant in question must be healthy or at least strong enough to withstand such pruning. You have to think that with every cut we make, the Japanese maple will expend energy to close this wound, and if we can make an already weak wound, we run the risk that it will not overcome it.

    In addition to , it is important to use the correct cutting tools , and that we clean them with water and dish soap before and after use. Here they are:

    • Household scissors (for example, kitchen) for green branches with a thickness of 0. 5 cm or less. Buy them here.
    • Anvil shears for green branches approx. 1 cm thick. On sale here.
    • hand saw for wood from 2 cm thick. You can buy them from the link.

    Pruning Japanese maple grown as a tree or shrub

    Pruning Japanese maple is a lot easier than you think. Follow these steps to get a very bushy plant with lush foliage:

    1. Remove any dead branches, that is, those with no trace of buds left.
    2. Decide what shape you want your maple to be: if you prefer it to grow as a tall tree, remove the low branches by clearing its trunk; On the other hand, if you prefer it to grow more like a shrub, it is necessary to reduce the height of the guide or main branch by 5 cm to force it to remove the lower branches. Over time and as it grows, you will only need to select branches that will be part of your maple design.
    3. Finally, all that's left is to add the leftover trimmings to the compost heap.

    Remember to disinfect your scissors or saw with a few drops of pharmaceutical alcohol before and after handling the plant. This way you make sure that it cannot be attacked by mushrooms or other intruders.

    Japanese Maple Bonsai Pruning

    Image - Wikimedia/Cliff of Arlington, Virginia, USA

    If you have a Japanese Maple Bonsai, then you should know that the purpose of pruning is to maintain a certain style. So the first thing you need to do is decide what shape you want it to be.

    It is best to look at the trunk, see what shape it has and how the branches are distributed. It is always much easier to treat a tree as a bonsai, respecting its development. than trying to change it.

    Once you've chosen a style, you just have to go for the trim to give it it. But you must keep in mind that for it to be considered a true bonsai, several years must pass during which it must be cared for and pruned to maturity.

    This is why a newly established cutting or seedling is not considered a bonsai, even if grown in a bonsai tray. Maybe, of course, but only if, as we said, pruning works for years.

    Article subject:

    What is bonsai and what is not?

    Step by Step

    The following general steps are: :

    1. In winter, cross branches and any that look sick or broken should be removed. If you have suckers - buds growing from the base of the trunk, they should also be removed.
    2. Branches must be pruned throughout the year. This is done for two purposes: first, to give it style; and two to expand. To do this, you need to grow four to six pairs of leaves and remove 2-3 pairs.
    3. Finally, you need to apply a healing paste to the wounds to help them heal better.

    Image - Wikimedia / Joe Mabel

    Japanese maples, scientific name palmate maple , are deciduous trees native to East Asia. Has a fairly high growth rate under suitable growing conditions. , and its decorative value is known to be very high.

    Its beautiful palmate leaves, ranging from green to red to orange, make a spectacular home decoration. Lovers of acidic soil and water are advised to keep them in a partially shaded area. to avoid damage, especially if you live in a very hot climate.

    Feather to keep them healthy, it is recommended to trim them , so we hope you found this article helpful.


    The content of the article complies with our principles of editorial ethics. To report a bug, click here.

    How to prune Japanese maple | Horticulture

    The Japanese maple is a popular tree and shrub in gardens. Its leaves give that oriental touch that we love so much, and besides, they do not need much care, although it is true that when the climate is warmer than necessary, it becomes a demanding plant.

    But even in this case, it is impossible to provide him with the best possible care in conditions. One is pruning, but When and how to prune Japanese maple?

    Index

    • 1 When is the Japanese maple pruned?
    • 2 How to prune a Japanese maple?
      • 2.1 Pruning a Japanese maple grown as a tree or shrub
      • 2.2 Pruning a Japanese maple bonsai
        • 2.2.1 Step by step

    When is the Japanese maple pruned?

    Image - Wikimedia / Rüdiger Wölk

    El Japanese maple This is a plant of a temperate mountain climate. It lives in areas with mild summers and very cold winters that cover the landscape with snow. Under these conditions, the tree grows in spring and summer, and in autumn and winter it enters a dormant state.

    For this reason, pruning time is late winter , when the buds are about to wake up (that is, increase in size, "swell"). In this way, the wounds we make will heal quickly, because as the plant resumes its growth, the juice will circulate through its branches somewhat faster.

    Subscribe to our Youtube channel

    How to prune a Japanese maple?

    To prune a Japanese maple, you must first know that the plant in question must be healthy or at least strong enough to withstand such pruning. You have to think that with every cut we make, the Japanese maple will expend energy to close this wound, and if we can make an already weak wound, we run the risk that it will not overcome it.

    In addition, it is important to use the correct cutting tools and that we clean them with water and dish soap before and after use. Here they are:

    • Household scissors (for example, kitchen) for green branches with a thickness of 0.5 cm or less. Buy them here.
    • Anvil shears for green branches approx. 1 cm thick. On sale here.
    • hand saw for wood from 2 cm thick. You can buy them from the link.

    Pruning Japanese maple grown as a tree or shrub

    Pruning Japanese maple is a lot easier than you think. Follow these steps to get a very bushy plant with lush foliage:

    1. Remove any dead branches, that is, those with no trace of buds left.
    2. Decide what shape you want your maple to be: if you prefer it to grow as a tall tree, remove the low branches by clearing its trunk; On the other hand, if you prefer it to grow more like a shrub, it is necessary to reduce the height of the guide or main branch by 5 cm to force it to remove the lower branches. Over time and as it grows, you will only need to select branches that will be part of your maple design.
    3. Finally, all that's left is to add the leftover trimmings to the compost heap.

    Remember to disinfect your scissors or saw with a few drops of pharmaceutical alcohol before and after handling the plant. This way you make sure that it cannot be attacked by mushrooms or other intruders.

    Japanese Maple Bonsai Pruning

    Image - Wikimedia/Cliff of Arlington, Virginia, USA

    If you have a Japanese Maple Bonsai, then you should know that the purpose of pruning is to maintain a certain style. So the first thing you need to do is decide what shape you want it to be.

    It is best to look at the trunk, see what shape it has and how the branches are distributed. It is always much easier to treat a tree as a bonsai, respecting its development. than trying to change it.

    Once you've chosen a style, you just have to go for the trim to give it it. But you must keep in mind that for it to be considered a true bonsai, several years must pass during which it must be cared for and pruned to maturity.

    This is why a newly established cutting or seedling is not considered a bonsai, even if grown in a bonsai tray. Maybe, of course, but only if, as we said, pruning works for years.

    Article subject:

    What is bonsai and what is not?

    Step by Step

    The following general steps are: :

    1. In winter, cross branches and any that look sick or broken should be removed. If you have suckers - buds growing from the base of the trunk, they should also be removed.

      Learn more