Hollow (and I mean HOLLOW!) Acer Repot

I’ve had the tree for 24 years. It has always had the hollow cavity. About 12 years ago, the cavity broke through the other side, at which time I plugged it up with a cement. The cement has since eroded away, leaving the tree with a unique trunk. And in recent years it has been leaning more and more. Any reactions? Suggestions? Which front to you like the best (on the 2022 pics?)

March 2020

March 2021

December 2021-- Winter color in Texas

January 2022-- Before Repot

January 2022-- After Repot


Very nice. I like the front that shows the hollow going to the ground rather than the hole at the top. I am developing a much shorter trident maple to have a big hollow.

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Thanks @MartyWeiser . I know I need to thin out some of the foliage to make it less “bushy,” and the underlying trunk and structural branches need to be more visible. Any other advice on what I can do to make it pop?

Can you shorten the branches and the leader so the hollow trunk is a larger part of the composition? If it were my tree I would try to reduce the leader by about 50% and the branches by at least 1/3.

I am building mine from stubs and small branches. I am trying to get lots of movement and even some crossing of the branches so it looks like a very old and damaged tree - what some folks refer to as the fairly tail style. I got it in late fall 2018 from Driftwood Bonsai, repotted in 2019 and allowed to grow, and got serious about styling in spring 2021. it still has a long way to go. I have attached a picture from this past October.


Something like this?

  • Yellow means prune

  • Red means bend/wire or toss the existing leader.

  • Red circle= hole on the backside. Something needs to be done to disguise that


I second @MartyWeiser. All branches need to be shorter. After that work on ramification of these branches and keep in compact.
Perhaps shallower container next repoting?? The size is good otherwise.
Really nice tree with great character - I like the front showing the whole hollow part too.

Just to consider something completely out to the box, it might be interesting to think about how this tree would look after a major wind storm. Perhaps partially ripped from the ground with some of its limbs buttressing the trunk up off to the soil. The limbs that are holding the ancient tree up would ground layer, becoming the next iteration of an ancient tree becoming something completely different.
In the Texas Hill country, you can see this pattern where there were really old live oaks. The original tree will be completely rotted away but there is a circle of mature trees standing and growing around the “mother” that were giant limbs that rested on the ground and rooted.
It’s a great tree and whatever you decide to do will be spectacular.

Hmmm. . . intriguing, Les. After the snow, I’ll put my trees back out and play with the idea.