What Should I Expect?   8 comments

After publishing more winter pruning, I noticed that I had no pictures of how branching should develop year by year and when it is necessary to switch to building tertiary branching to achive the twigs that make maple bonsai look so beautiful. I mentioned that three years will be necessary to get the primaries and the secondaries started and to a point that tertiary branching could start. It actually takes four years since the first year really shows nothing if the trunk is bare, or rudimentary branch stubs if they are being retained and in good positions. Branches that can be kept that are low on the trunk are very valuable since they will have a head start and look more size proportionate.

This is an example of a stump with no branches on it. This stump will be grown for the first year in anticipation of the first buds and the beginnings of what might be branches kept.


This is an example of the first year bud pop and then the choosing of a few to keep and the beginning wire to help position the branches for future growth.


Here we have a freshly dug trident from the field. Lots of branches all over the place. Selections will have to be made and the large primary branch sticking straight at the viewer will have to be removed.


The large branch is cut off and the smaller branch around it was retained to grow out in a better position. That is achieved with wire. It is kept on untill scarred since this branch will be cut back many times for taper. All I wish to achieve is to get the direction established.


Once all the branches I wish to keep are wired and in a good place, the tree is ready to just grow. It will be pruned at appropriate times to slow hard growth and keep the branch growing with buds along the way to cut back to.


At the end of the second year with no branches (bare trunk) and first year with a few left on trunk we have a one year head start. The beginning of the second year should look much like this from the top. This is a pretty good start on the primary branch locations.


At the end of the second year the tree should have doubled its branches. It should be pruned back in fall and all the cuts sealed. Why Fall? Because Fall pruning produces spring growth which is not so explosive and allows for pruning in spring to control internodes and fall pruning will produce smaller spring leaves. Spring pruning will give more explosive growth and long internodes and large leaves. This is great if the tree is in the ground and is being grown for fattening up.


At the end of the third year we should have a good set of primaries (branches) and a good subset of secondaries. This is the time we get to start producing all the tertiary (twigs) branching and developing the beautiful maple canopy.






Posted December 21, 2013 by California Bonsai Art in Trident Techniques

8 responses to “What Should I Expect?

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Do You only prune in autumn> Do you do any pruning in between?

    • Of course I do. In my climate I have to prune tridents for shape monthly. By preparing the tree in fall, it gives the tree the time to evenly adjust to the needs of the tree. This gives me a more balanced push rather than preparing the tree in spring and getting an off balance push in places I don’t want it. After the spring push all subsequent growth is much slower and weaker any way. Hedging keeps internodes short and I rely on that through the maitenance part of my year.

      • Thanks Al. When you say hedging do you just clip like WP to shape or you cut individual branches and fine tune at the same time?

      • Thanks Al. I am not very sure yet about the indiscriminate pruning with the hedge method. For me it misses things that can be addressed early.I asked you if you prune in autumn only since you said it is your own type of hedge method and I was not sure how you go about it. I tried the hedge method on some gardenias with bad results…

  2. Al, thanks so much for this information. I have a couple tridents I’m growing out so I won’t be at this stage for a couple years at least, but it’s great to have a reference now so I’m not lost then.

  3. So Al you hedge prune end of Spring and right through summer?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: