Creating Small Size Trident Maple Forests

Creating Small Size Trident Maple Forests

70 tree Trident maple forest created in one and a half hour– March 2020

The small leaf Trident maple is excellent for bonsai creation. I’ve been growing many in small pots, 3”, 2.5” and cell packs for several years now. Diane keeps wanting me to plant them in larger pots, but I did not. They are being prepared for forest plantings. I’m trying to keep them small. Yes, many are potbound and need an additional watering somedays. Large size Trident maples are commonly available but not small specimens. The Trident maples we are using are two, three and four year old seedlings, with none over about 10 inches. The same age seedlings allowed to grow would be measured in feet. Once I grew a six foot branch on a Trident maple in a bonsai container in only ONE season, and our growing seasons are not that long.

So we have lots of Trident maples. We used over 100 for a workshop and demo for the Bonsai Society of New York last month. And I used 115 alone today to create eight small Trident maple forests. Two years ago I created a 70 tree forest in an hour and a half, all are still growing in a one inch deep bonsai container.

November 2020

My assistant for the day was Brian Witcomb, who often helps out in my studio. We (Brian actually, because of my new shoulder replacement I’m not supposed to lift items) brought four flats of Trident maples growing in cell packs. Additionally “we” brought in two flats of Trident maples growing in 3” pots and another flat of 2.5” pots. An excellent selection to choose from. I also have many Trident maples growing in 4” and gallon pots as well. He prepared each of the eight containers with plastic drainage screen and two pieces of No. 18 annealed copper wire.

Ideal time for transplanting deciduous species

Transplanting can also be successful when in leaf

I selected several seedlings of different sizes for the eight forests. Brian then found the base of the trunk and removed most, or sometimes all the soil. We grew the Trident maples from one year old seedings and most of the tap root was removed at that time. So only small fibrous roots were developed. Brian used bamboo chopsticks, a root hook and tweezers for the soil removal. The timing of planting the forests was perfect, buds were beginning to open and grow. Even if the seedlings are leafed out they can be transplanted. I commonly transplant deciduous bonsai in full leaf, with extra after care. No problems for me using that technique for 60 years.

3″ pot 2.5″ Pot Cell pack

Eight containers prepared and trees selected

One typical forest prepared

As soon as he had completed preparing a group of seedlings I began to create the forests. We were able to keep up with each other, and he even went outside to collect some thin moss, two times.

Brian Witcomb preparing the seedlings

Bamboo chopsticks, a root hook and tweezers were used to remove most of the soil

Before root pruning

After root pruning

Each seedling was examined for trunk thickness, shapes and root systems. I mostly used the soil they wee growing in since it was moist and easily supported the trees. Our nursery mix is chicken grit, Turface and Pro Mix in equal amounts. We have had excellent results using this mix and Osmocote fertilizer is also added.

Designing the forest and adding some soil

It is important to have all the trees wired to avoid movement. The two pieces of wire had four ends. Two were placed diagonally through the forest for anchoring. They were tied together using a bonsai pliers which only meets at the tip. Both ends of the wire must be carefully twisted together equally. Sometimes the long wire was also used again through the forest.

Bonsai wire pliers used to carefully twist the anchoring wire making certain both ends are equally twisted

Before trimming

After trimming the forest– it will be refined during the growing season

Green moss is the trick to this type of forest creation. Moss is used to stabilize each tree and they can also be turned and adjusted too. Finally the heights of each trees was established and crossing branches removed. This is only the first potting of the forest and they will be refined though the growing season. Brian and I used 115 Trident maple seedlings to create eight small forests. I look forward to watching them leaf out and develop.

The completed eight small size Trident maple forests, with a few other forests