Best method for repositioning branches on a Japanese maple

I have a younger Japanese maple seedling that I would like to reposition the branches. I want to know if it is best to use wire on the branches, if so would it be copper or aluminum? I don’t want to reposition them far so if I was to use wire should I use raffia?
or is it bust to use guide wires and stakes to pull the tree in position so bark can be damaged?

The most common method is to use aluminum wire. Most people do not wrap the wire with paper, but it is sometimes done. If you are going for gentle back towards the trunk or pot then guy wires work very well, particularly in combination with standard spiral wiring of the branch. Be careful to pad guy wires since there is a fair bit of concentrated force. This looks like it is in a nursery can so you can guy wire to the can. There is probably no need to use raffia if you are not making really tight bends. However, be careful to support the branch when bending since it is fairly easy to snap maple branches.


I am still trying to figure out the direction I want to go with the tree but knowing the best methods to move the branches helps me determine what I can do with the tree. It is a dwarf variegated seedling so over time it will be a unique bonsai.


Charlie - You have a fairly long straight section in the middle that may be difficult to bend. You may want to consider setting some structure to the lower two branches and cutting the trunk just above the second one after it thickens a bit.

If it were my tree, I would repot in the spring of 2022 into a 50/50 mix of bark and pumice in the 3-9 mm (1/8 - 3/8") range using a pot of about the same volume that is wider and shallower. I would work the roots to start to get a spreading nebari. Let it grow make the cut I proposed after the leaves harden in 2023. With good solid fertilizer it should then push a bunch of buds that can then be used for the design. If you really like the leaf, you could airlayer above my proposed cut site to get a second tree.

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