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Trident Maple

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

Acer buergerianum

The Trident Maple is a vibrant colourful tree that is loved by gardeners around the world for its fresh spring colours and vibrant autumn colours. It leaves are tri-lobed, orange-coppery in spring, bright green in summer and orange-red in autumn give this little tree something to enchant with all year round. Even in the depths of winter, its densely ramified branches and pale silver branches are a sight to behold.

Trident Mape, Root Over Rock
Trident Mape, Root Over Rock

Styles and Sizes: With their ability shine all through the year they are indeed a very sought after species for bonsai. It makes excellent small to largely sized bonsai in most upright forms and is very popular with a root and rock-composition because of its quick growing and thickening roots.

Position: As a bonsai, the Trident prefers a shaded spot especially over the hottest of months. However, if you are seeking to put on a colourful show of autumn colour then it is best to move it back into the sunny spots on the benches as the height of summer starts waning. It is a very hardy species but is best protected when temperatures are likely to fall below -10C for prolonged periods. Keep in a cool greenhouse for these periods.

Watering: Water thoroughly in the early this will ensure that the plant does not stay waterlogged overnight.

Feeding: Feed with a balanced organic fertiliser during the start of the year. Using a high nitrogen fertiliser will increase growth but make leaves larger and branches more coarse, only apply if you are looking to bulk up your bonsai at perhaps a pre-bonsai stage.

Repotting: Repot younger trees every 2 to 3 year, trees older than 10 years only when pot bound. Repot in spring, reducing the root ball by no more than a third in volume. Use an equal mix of loam, peat and coarse sand. Alternative you can use 2 parts Akadama and 1 part Pumice.

Pruning: Summer pruning is carried out when the current year’s growth is fully extended. Prune to leave 3 lateral shoots or active nodes. Spring pinching of terminal shoots once 4 tender leaves have developed will ensure longer inter-nodes do not form. Use the pinching operation with caution as it interferes with the hormonal cycle of the tree.

Wiring: Maples are best styled with the ‘clip and grow’ method. If bonsai-wiring is required, wire sparingly and with care, in autumn and remove before spring, if left on after spring watch

carefully to ensure wire scaring does not occur.

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