TRIDENT MAPLE (CHINESE)
The trident maple likes a sunny airy place, but during the hottest summer weeks better protect it from scorching sunlight in the afternoon. In winter don't expose it to temperatures below -8°C. It is a good idea to protect the trident maple bonsai during frost.
Trident maples grow vigorously and consume a lot of water during the growing season. Always water in time, but do not overwater. Don't use very calcareous water, rainwater is preferable if it can be obtained.
During the growing season fertilize the tree once a month with solid organic fertilizer or every week with a liquid product.
Pruning and wiring
The new shoots in spring are usually allowed to grow until they have developed several leaf pairs and then they are shortened leaving just one pair. The apex tends to grow stronger than the lower branches, so balance the tree's growth by pruning the top more and letting weaker branches catch up. New shoots appear during the entire growing season and must be shortened continuously. On mature bonsai, pinching the young shoots very early can be necessary, to prevent the finer twigs of the outer canopy from thickening. Pruning of large branches or trunks should be done in summer when the cut wounds begin to heal immediately. Vigorous trident maples can close even larger wounds within a few years. Always seal wounds with cut paste to avoid fungi entering and to prevent die-back of the bark.
Healthy compact trees can be defoliated partly or totally in summer, in regions with long warm growth periods even several times a year, to promote delicate ramification and smaller leaves and prevent inner twigs from dying from lack of light. On trees that are not defoliated still, the largest leaves can be removed at any time. Autumn, when the leaves fall, is a good time to shorten the twigs and remove those which have grown in odd directions and all but two growing from the same point. The winter buds of trident maple bonsai are tiny and sometimes you might need a magnifying glass to see in which direction they point to decide where to cut, in order to make the new shoots grow into the desired direction in the following year.
Younger branches and twigs can be wired and shaped quite well during winter dormancy, but check and remove the wire in time. Because the strong growth wire can scar the bark very soon after the spring shoots have emerged. Guy wires are a good option to position stiff older branches.
The trident maple should be repotted every two or three years in early spring, large old specimens less often. The roots grow strongly and can be pruned heavily. Use a well-draining soil mix with a pH value between 5 and 7.
Trident maples can be grown from seeds, cuttings, or air-layers which root easily.
Pests and diseases
Vigorous trident maples are hardly attacked by pests and diseases. Aphids, scale, caterpillars, or spider mites can sometimes occur and powdery mildew or leaf spot fungi. Use a specific pesticide in these cases. Take care to seal cut wounds immediately to prevent Verticillium and other harmful fungi from entering. Root rot can occur when the tree is overwatered. Frequent watering with calcareous water can cause chlorosis.