Acer Palatum Osakazuki


I am a complete newbie but have started to watch lots of videos and read some books to increase my knowledge.

I bought a Japanese Maple about 6 months ago just for my garden but it is still in a pot and I was wondering whether to start to plan to turn it into a bonsai. However when I researched it the response seemed to say that the species wasn’t great for bonsai, its a Acer Palmatum Osakazuki?

I am not concerned about the quality of the material as I will no doubt make lots of mistakes and have some conifers as well to start with, however I love the Japanese Maples. Any help would be great.

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Welcome aboard. Based upon what I found on-line I think Osakazuki could make a nice bonsai. The main issue will be the quality and location of the graft unless it is on its own roots from a cutting. Keep it healthy and if it is growing well I would would cut back the elongating shoots to a single pair to start to develop some ramification for when you style it.

My general approach to younger maples is to do a fairly aggressive first repotting as the buds sell in the spring to get rid of the grower mix and spread the roots in a good bonsai mix - I am using 3 parts Akadama, 1 part pumice, and 1 part lava which works well for me. Most of the time they respond very well to the aggressive root work, but occasionally I lose one. I like a good spreading nebari so this is a risk worth taking on inexpensive stock.

Thank you for the response that is very helpful. I have bought a few conifers to start to play with and learn with and I was thinking that I would re-pot the maple into a bigger growing pot so the trunk would thicken for this year and then look to do more with it next spring.

I have read about chopping the trunk when it gets to a 1/3 of the desired thickness etc, that scares me, but is that the best way?

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If you want to increase trunk thickness, the best way is to plant it directly into the ground. It’s much faster.

When it gets to the size you need, you may want to consider air layering it above the graft union - that would get rid of the bump, especially if it is particularly unattractive.

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What would you guys do with this then?

I would start by scraping the soil away from the base of the trunk to determine if there is any nebari. I would then set it against a plain background and take a couple of pictures - one that shows the widest basal flare and another that shows the most trunk movement. That will give a much better idea of what the tree really has to offer. The nebari and the trunk take the most time to develop - the branches of maples can generally be grown from nothing since they back bud very well if there are still nodes along the trunk (and sometimes even through fairly thick bark). Sorry to be so blunt, but a picture like the one you posted (and many others have posted) is really not very useful in giving much feedback on styling.

We can create just about any style of bonsai from just about any material. However, if we start with what the tree naturally gives us we will most likely end up with a much better bonsai and it will take far less time to develop. Going back to your question about chopping the trunk at 1/3 height it depends upon what you are trying produce. If you want a thick trunked, masculine tree then growing it wild and cutting back to new leader that is allowed to grow for a couple of years and repeating can work very well and you will have a bonsai in 10 years or so. If you want a more graceful, feminine tree then you use the lines that are available including some cut back to create a more interesting line and branching and have a bonsai in 3-5 years. I have maples in both styles, most of which need more work. I have been creating more in the graceful, feminine style recently since I think that is a better reflection of how they really grow.

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Thank you very much for the information. Blunt is fine with me as I need to learn and now I understand what to photograph and how.

I will spend some time on the tree at the weekend and see what’s there. Thank you very much.