In this small series about my favourite bonsai specimens, it is about the classic Japanese maple. It is so obvious a tree for Shohin bonsai that I can’t neglect it at the list. The shifting kind of leaves, is the Acer palmatum and A. buergerianum have lovely leafs and good trunks if grown properly.
Tolerant for pruning, and also showing beauty during the dormant period, makes it very suitable for especially Shohin-bonsai displays, showing the change of the seasons. So what is not to like. Especially the A. buergerianum, Trident maple (named by the form of the leaves), shows a great winter image, where the dormant buds waiting for spring looks refreshing and neat.
The trick is to keep the foliage healthy, especially during the heat of the summer where leaf burns at the fragile A. palmatum can be a small problem. Although it is rarely a real problem, because most exhibitions are from autumn until late spring, and in the meantime it is more of a personal approach if you care much about these small failures happening during the season.
Leaf pruning is a way of controlling the balance of energy in the tree, as well as defoliating full or partially, is a technique usable to keep a dense branch construction and smaller leafs. All of which the Japanese maples are very tolerant and reacting positive at.
Partial shade is necessary during the warm summer months, and controlling the tree for aphids is also a good idea. I have rarely had any problems with pests, but it can happen on weak and stressed trees. The shifting seasons are clearly reflected in the Japanese maple, with fresh red-green new foliage in spring, darker green variations in summer, and beautiful yellow or red in autumn/fall.