Fall design on acer

Hi all,

I just finished an initial styling of this Japanese maple. I bought this as nursery stock. I repotted it in this oversized container to improve the roots. It’s been untouched for the past 18 months until this styling. My question is, would moving this tree to a shallow bonsai container this spring be too much for it?

Thanks for your thoughts!

Best,
Josh

How was it growing this year? How much did you take off in the styling? Were there some reasonable surface roots when you planted it in the current container? What depth of container are you considering? What are your repotting skills?

Unless the answers are poorly, lots, none, very shallow, and poor or some combination thereof you can probably repot in the spring. The closer the answers are to great, little, lots, moderate, and very good the shallower the container you can use. I generally error on the side of a deeper and wider container as repot maples, but still wide and shallow - they can be moved into smaller containers as they develop.

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I agree with Marty. Probably okay to repot in the spring. I don’t see any major bends so unless it is in very poor health, my guess is that you’d probably be fine.

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One question that comes up for me is: have you accomplished your root improvement goals yet is this container. Moving this to a more restrictive container will slow development.
My recommendation would be to leave it where it’s at until you get what you want at the nebari.
Maybe you do some surface root cleanup and exploration to see what you are working with.

Best,
Ryan

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I grow maples in fairly shallow, but wide pots to get nebari development. Perhaps something with the same or slightly larger diameter, but about half the depth you currently have. This helps develop lateral roots and gives me the impression of being potted in a more appropriate bonsai pot. However, you do not get as much trunk thickening as in a deeper pot.

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Awesome! Thank you so much for the thoughtful response here! Really helped guide my thinking.

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Good question. The tree seems to have really gained strength over the past year. I guess I would need to take a look at the roots to know for sure, but the leaf mass was strong this past season. I could leave it in the current container for one more year just be be safe. How much root mass do you usually take off when moving to a smaller container? If it has really taken off in the pot, will that limit the size of the container I can use down the road. Of course the health of the tree is always top of mind.

Hey Josh,
I’m actually talking more about your aesthetic developmental goals at the root base. Do you have the surface roots you are after?
Repots slow trees down considerably. So if the base is not looking how you want it then holding off a year would be the smart play.

Ryan

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Hi Ryan,

Good question here. It has some good surface roots, but they are all tangled up at the moment. Whenever I do the repot, I am guessing I’ll need to really work the roots to get a radial spread. To that end, I wonder if repotting earlier would be better. I think the roots will only become more difficult to work if they continue to thicken, but I might be wrong. Thoughts?

Best,
Josh

Sounds like a repot to move your root development forward would be a good idea.

Best,
Ryan

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I agree get the roots organized and then let them grow and develop. Why I use shallow, but wide pots with maples.

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