Japanese Maple pruning and graft question

Hello All,
Still relatively new to the bonsai game, but learning a lot from the Mirai community. I purchased this Japanese Maple (not sure of the variety) from a local nursery in the bargain area, and did some initial pruning on it a couple of days ago. I’m in zone 7a Northern VA btw.
I had 3 questions:

  1. I want to eventually prune back further, to the red lines, but should I do that now or should I wait to see where the buds push based on this initial reduction?
  2. Although the graft junction isn’t bad (blue circle), is there a way to improve the transition? For example, taking an grafting knife and cutting slits above the graft to encourage callusing and swelling?
  3. Would it be ok to repot this to an anderson flat or shallower training pot in the spring?

Thanks in advance for your help!


I would repot into a shallower container and spread the roots in the spring. A good nebari is one of the longest things to develop. If you do that, then your pruning is more limited next year since the tree needs foliage to generate roots. Your reductions look good for spring 2022, although you might be able to do the one of the main trunk during summer 2021 if the tree grows well since there are branches above. I think I would let the nebari expand before I start scaring the trunk to smooth the trnasition.


I would be careful about doing any work so close to the graft union. You could cause the graft to fail or allow infections into the graft. Another possibility is it may cause suckers to grow from the root stock which is also undesirable. You may be able to air layer at a later date.


I think you have the right idea with your major cuts as marked. You might want to do that next year after the first flush hardens off. Regarding the graft union; I would suggest an air layer just above the graft. Those grafts never look better over time, and I think trying to scar the trunk to make it swell at the union would just end up making it look even worse. Also, I see that you already have bad nebari with that large high root on the right in the picture, so an air layer would serve double duty in getting rid of the graft union and creating the start of a good nebari. I would suggest leaving it in the current container and installing the layer next spring after the first flush is out. It it forms roots well you could remove the layer in the spring of 2022.


The best time to air layer is Roger states is after the first flush hardens which I think should be round about May where you are. Normally you should be able to separate mid August if all goes well. Keep the bottom half and make another tree from the original root stock.