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Red Maple Bonsai Tree Care Guide

Red Maple Bonsai Tree Care Guide!

You know what is equally (or maybe even more?) as beautiful as a gigantic Red Maple tree?

A small, miniature Red Maple bonsai tree!

Nothing screams autumn like a blooming Red Maple Tree! Even though it’s not a common sight here in India, still we have been programmed by our consumption of Western media that that’s what autumn should look like; the falling of red maple trees and making the ground come alive with its vibrant colors. 

The Red Maple tree grows up to 12 to 21 meters, but if you train it from the beginning and give it everything that a Red Maple bonsai tree needs, it will make an excellent specimen for a bonsai tree. So without further ado, let’s get into everything that one needs to know about growing and caring for a Red Maple bonsai tree!

Bonsai pots are an essential part of the bonsai tree’s presentation. They come in various shapes, sizes, and materials like ceramic, plastic, and clay. Buying bonsai pots online can provide access to a wide range of options suitable for different types of bonsai trees. It’s important to choose a pot that is the right size for the tree and complements its overall aesthetics. 

How Long Does It Take To Grow Red Maple Bonsai?

Red Maple is a medium-to-quick-growing tree. When grown outside, the tree can reach maturity in 25 years, with a lifespan of 100 to 150 years. 

The development of the Red Maple bonsai tree can be regulated and channeled towards thickening of the twigs and foliage with careful trimming, wiring, and repotting.

Red Maple Bonsai Tree Care

Coming to the most important part of this article, let’s learn how to care for your beautiful Red Maple bonsai tree.

Soil

To thrive, Red maple bonsai need well-draining, nutritionally soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. In general, a commercially available bonsai soil mix is better because it is carefully prepared to assist bonsai tree growth.

 Waterlogging can be avoided by adding a drainage system of rocks or stones to the bottom of the pot.

It’s better to use slightly acidic normal bonsai substrate or organic compost mix for optimum results. Highly acidic soils should be avoided since they contain a lot of manganese, which can induce chlorosis.

Location

For Red Maple bonsai trees, full sun or moderate shade is required. Every day, the tree should receive six hours of direct sunlight. The tree can withstand both dry and wet circumstances, as well as lower temperatures.

If you are planning to own the bonsai as an indoor plant, it would be difficult to give six to eight hours of sunlight, so you can try to find a place inside your house where it has sunlight reach, or if you are unable to provide that you can invest in some high-powered grow lights.

Red maples are resistant to cold drafts, but it’s best to give them protection during that time even in their mature phase. It’s important to move them inside to protect them from cold winds. Placing them near a wall will also prevent the wind from getting to them directly.

Note:

You might notice the tree losing leaves in winter. But there’s nothing to worry about, new leaves will sprout in spring and summer. 

Watering

For both types of Red Maple bonsai trees, they demand a lot of water when the weather is hot. Placing the tree pot on a water tray is another option. 

In the case of Acer rubrum, a good rule of thumb is that overwatering is preferable to underwatering. 

When the temperature is too hot and the tree does not receive enough water, the tree might weaken or even die from drying in a single day.

Maintain a balance between over-water and under-water. When the bonsai is over-watered, its foliage will change yellow in color first and then drop. When the tree is under-watered the leaves will dry out first, then wither, and fall off. 

To check the moisture levels in the soil you can use the finger method. All you have to do is stick your finger in the soil and if the soil is arid to feel, implying that it requires moistening. A moisture meter can speed up the process and be more accurate. 

Every watering session should be gentle and thorough, so water till the water is running out of the drainage holes from the bottom of the pot. This way it will be clear that the whole root system gets the taste of water. 

Tips:

  • For better results on summer days, you can try bottom-watering them periodically.  Take a bigger size tray and load the bottom of it with water and set the pot over it for around an hour. 
  • Humidity levels in summer are low and to provide the needed humid environment misting is important.  Mist them every other day and if that’s not possible use a drip tray to keep constant humidity around the tree. 

Fertilizing

This bonsai tree demands fertilizer on a regular basis. Fertilizer should be administered once a week in the spring, summer, and fall, and twice a month in the winter.

The nitrogen content of the fertilizer should be kept to a minimum. Worm castings, bone and blood meal, cottonseed meal, and other organic components are recommended by certain sources.

Pruning

Shoots and twigs can be trimmed at any time of the year. To avoid excessive bleeding, strong branches should be clipped in the fall or summer, when callus growth is fast. 

To avoid fungal illnesses that can penetrate through pruning wounds, we recommend using a cut paste solution while cutting thick branches. 

Some fungal infections and illnesses are particularly harmful to the maple. Pruning new growth to one or two pairs of leaves is recommended. 

Pinching mature Bonsai with a gentle ramification to maintain the twigs thin is possible. To prevent the twigs from expanding once the first leaf pair has unfurled, remove the delicate tiny end of the shoot between them.

Red Maple bonsai trees can be grown in a variety of forms, including cluster, group, informal upright, slanting, and forest. 

Pruning and defoliation in a balanced combination might result in reduced leaves and beautifully shaped twigs when done on a regular basis. Because the bark of this tree is extremely sensitive and easily scarred, wiring should be done with extreme caution. 

Pruning is primarily used to increase ramification. It also regulates how twigs and open areas are distributed. 

Pinching new nodes frequently is recommended to reduce the space between the leaves and fresh nodes. However, removing a branch leaves a scar, making it difficult to induce new growth at that location.

Wiring

Wiring can be applied at any phase of the bonsai tree’s growth and, when done correctly, can result in polished tree shapes. Rubber-coated aluminum wire for the tree may be the ideal and safest option. Experienced bonsai lovers, on the other hand, advise using wiring sparingly.

The wires can be kept on the tree for a whole season but be cautious not to leave nasty bite marks;

To wire;

  • Insert the wire into the soil and try as close as possible to the base of the trunk, as the wire will contact the lower trunk closely. Be delicate, you can damage the roots if you move heavy-handed.
  • Keep a 45-degree angle and start wiring it upwards. The precise angle will create the much-needed spacing.
  • Use a wire cutter or a knife to cut the wire. Wire cutters are sharper and can perform a neat cut without any struggle or possibility of harming the tree. 
  • After wiring, they are now ready to bend in your desired position. Gradually curve the tree to a preferred shape without putting too much pressure. 

Tips:

1) Some parts of the tree can grow quicker than other parts. That occurs because of the difference in the sunlight reach. So keep an eye on those parts cause they can leave bite marks before other parts. In that case, you can only remove those wires and leave the remains to set into their new place. 

2) Pruning is a better way to shape a  Red Maple bonsai tree, according to many experts.

Repotting

Every two years, the Red Maple Bonsai should be repotted. It has deep roots that grow quickly and often fill the pot in a short period of time, so be sure to clip the roots.

Use a well-drained soil mix, such as Akadama with Pumice and lava rock. 

Just before leaf buds open in the spring, repotting should be done. Smaller trees and seedlings can be bare-rooted. 

Larger and more mature ones must first be burlapped and balled. Root trimming should be done once every year on younger bonsai trees and once every 2 to 3 years on older bonsai trees. Roots must be pruned in a planned manner to keep them lateral and coplanar.

Insects and Diseases

Although the Red Maple is a tough tree, it is susceptible to sap-sucking pests called aphids in the spring. Use a normal insecticide spray to get rid of aphids and follow the directions on the label. 

Verticillium wilt is a fungal infection that can kill a Red Maple Bonsai entirely or partially. This disease is incurable and can be spread to other trees through the use of Bonsai tools

On fresh cuts, it appears as black patches in the wood. If you suspect Verticillium in your tree, make sure to clean and disinfect your instruments properly.

How to Germinate a Red Maple Bonsai

Seeds are the simplest way of growing Red Maple bonsai trees. It’s been claimed that between 25 and 60% of the seeds germinate. Because bonsai plants do not generate seeds, seeds can be obtained from mature plants that thrive outdoors.

For your convenience, below is a step by step guide to grow your own Red Maple bonsai tree from seeds.

  1. From late spring to early summer, gather seeds from matured red maple trees that are blooming outdoors in natural settings. Red maple trees that have been treated as bonsai are driven into a miniature shape and size, which prevents them from producing seeds.
  2. You have to fill up a tiny propagation tray 2 to 3 inches with moist horticultural sand. In the sand, plant the seeds about 1/4 to 1 inch deep.
  3. Seal a clear plastic bag with the propagation tray inside. To replicate the outdoor cold stratification period, place the covered tray in the refrigerator for 60 to 90 days.
  4. Get the seeds out from the fridge and place them in a warm, indirect-light area. Germinating seeds can be done on the top of a refrigerator.
  5. Each day, remove the plastic top to renew the air within the bag and check the moisture level. To keep the sand moist, spray it with water.
  6. As soon as seed sprouts appear, remove the plastic cover. Place the propagation tray in a sunny, warm location. Because the sand will dry out rapidly without the plastic cover, keep an eye on it. To keep the sand moist, add water as needed.
  7. After three to four weeks of growth, carefully move the sand away from the tree sprout roots with your finger to examine the root length. When the roots of the tree shoots are 1 inch long, transplant them.
  8. Fill 4-inch pots with potting soil that has been moistened. Each tree sprout should be transplanted into its own pot. Place the pots in a sunny location and keep an eye on the moisture in the soil to maintain it evenly hydrated.
  9. Before beginning to train the trees into bonsai specimens, wait till they are at least 8 inches tall.

Cuttings are another popular way to propagate Red Maple. Taking a spore from a Red Maple stump is required. Cutting propagation is more difficult than seed propagation because cuttings are hard to root. 

Lastly, air layering is a frequent way of propagation for Red Maple bonsai trees.  When a tree’s lower branch hits the earth and establishes a root, this process occurs. After that, the newly rooted stem can be taken away from the original tree and planted independently.

Conclusion

The Red Maple bonsai tree is truly one of the most beautiful and realistic looking bonsai trees there is. Nobody should be deprived of this majestic looking bonsai to brighten up their gardens and homes. Get seeds from a matured Red maple tree and start growing your own!

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