Grafting a Better Nebari onto a Field Maple Bonsai

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grafted bonsai roots

Spring 2010: 3 years later and the grafts at the back of the trunk have healed well. Having been allowed almost free growth since 2006 to encourage a strong graft-union, the graft stock was then pruned back hard in early 2009 to encourage the sap to flow into the main trunk rather than continuing into the top of each grafted sapling itself.

grafted bonsai roots

Spring 2010: with all but one of the grafts having taken, I removed all traces of the original saplings and sealed the wounds (pruning Acer species during the Spring can result in bleeding or sap loss and I prefer to use wound healer to prevent this). On the right of the picture above it is possible to see where one of the grafts had not been secured tightly enough against the trunkbase during the grafting process and had therefore not successfully taken. I will graft a new sapling into this area later in the year.

bonsai nebari

With the tree taken out of its training container, it was then bare-rooted so the root system could be pruned thoroughly. Notice that in the image above the tree still has some of its original rootbase.

pruned bonsai roots

Now that there is a sufficient surface root structure to support the tree, as much live wood as possible was then removed from the base of the rootball using a combination of knob cutters and a carving tool.

This technique encourages new roots to emerge from the existing surface root structure, in turn creating a flatter root system and better development of the nebari and trunkbase in the future.

acer root pruning

Close-up image of the thick front root that I split into two in the Spring of 2006. The two approach grafts at the front of the tree back in 2006 have not taken 100% and have simply been pruned back hard for the time being and will be allowed to grow freely throughout 2010 to ensure they graft securely.

bonsai root

After removal of the base of the trunk and along with it, all of the original saplings rootsystem has produced a flat rootsytem

acer maple bonsai

Spring 2010: Finally, the Maple was potted up into a large mica training pot while the branch structure continues to be developed.

Current height of the tree is 12"/30cm, with a trunk diameter above the roots of 3.5"/8.5cm

Update January 2014:

field maple bonsai approach graft roots

January 2014: 4 years later and the ramification of the Field Maple bonsai has greatly increased along with the development of the surface roots/nebari.

field maple bonsai approach graft roots

The approach-grafted roots at the back of the bonsai continue to develop well, however, it will be a number of years before the scars disappear.


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