Will Grafted Maple Get Better?

Hi All: I am new to bonsai but have been interested for a long time. I love the Mirai community as I have been learning a lot.

I recently found a good deal on a small grafted Japanese Maple “Shaina” at a local nursery which I purchased on impulse. However, the grafting appears to be done a little messy / not clean. I guess I can always just plant it as a container tree for the garden, but would love to see if I can use this as a future bonsai. I am not sure if the trunk/graft will get better with more growth? I don’t mind letting it grow for a few more years, but would love some input as I really like maples and would like to learn what to look for in future. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Most likely to get worse. Air layering above the graft is an option.

Probably you’re only option if you hope for that to be a better bonsai. Maples respond so quickly to airlayeringthat you should be able to do the sir layer end of May and cutting it off in September. You’ll need to protect over the winter, of course.

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I agree, that graft will only get worse over time. Your best option is to air-layer above the graft. It’s easy to do and should give you a good radial root system going forward. There is plenty of content in the library on the process.

Thank you for the insight everyone. I appreciate it. I will review the library and learn more about the air layering process. Looks like a pretty hardy maple specimen, so hope things will work out. If anything, I at least now know what to keep an out for moving forward - as I read most / many maples variants are grafted.

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My favorite air layer stream is by David Cutchins on August 3,2021. He does these commercially so has his technique down for many successes. Title is Air Layering Primer. Air layer starts around 33.4. Air layer burrito!!

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You’re correct Jerry, most commercial facilities graft all their maples, it preserves the genetics of special strains but more importantly it’s very fast to propagate this way. A good grafter can do hundreds of trees a day. I grow trees specifically for bonsai, I stick hundreds of cuttings each winter, but it takes 2 seasons before they’re ready for market.

Can anyone advise him on where he should make the cuts for the airlayer?

Thanks everyone! Very informative and I am learning a lot. The maple is growing fast and upwards too, so hope to have extra room to work with when trying to airlayer. I’ll take a take an updated picture after work tomorrow and share. Appreciate the comments, thoughts, and guidance.

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Hi Jerry, can you post an image of the entire tree? That way it will be easier to spot a good air layer location. It’s probably wise to do the air layer a bit higher on the tree, you’ve got some nice branches really close to the graft and removing them to do an air layer in my experience is risking the entire tree, just in case the air layer doesn’t take.

Of course!

Here are a couple of photos of the existing branches and tree. The tree is potted in a gallon nursery grow pot with soil/bark from the nursery. It is interesting that there are quite a bit of new growth near the graft. Hope this helps! Thank you all.

That’s a nasty looking graft, IMHO this won’t get better.
I’d air layer just above it

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Thanks for the pictures, my suggestion is to error on the side of caution, air layer two of the larger upright shoots first. This will insure the tree will air layer ok and that it will survive on its own roots. If those turn out good then next spring you can air layer the tree above the graft knowing it should do fine. If the tree doesn’t air layer well, then you can go to plan B, next season. Good luck.

I would layer below the second junction of three into a three trunk clump but I’m a novice!