Japanese Maple - Instructions for a proper cut

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Japanese fan maple - Acer palmatum

Sick wood should be removed as soon as possible. If you wait too long, the disease may spread and affect other healthy parts of the maple. The disease can eventually reach such an extent that the maple is beyond saving. Especially the dreaded Verticillium wilt, which is caused by fungi in the soil, causes a rapid dying of the branches. Whether red Japanese maple or a green variety is affected, a quick and drastic pruning is required in all cases.
Therefore, do not wait for the season that is particularly suitable for a cut. Whenever you discover infested branches, you step right to action. This will give the maple better chances of survival.

Spring is the right time for dead shoots

At high temperatures, individual branches of the maple can freeze in winter. In addition, the Japanese Maple can already suffer from twigs in early spring. In this case, you should remove the branches in the spring, as soon as the buds expire. So you do not disturb the new growth. Work carefully and only up to living wood and not beyond.
Do not cut the branches smoothly on the trunk, but rather pay attention not to damage the branch collar. Since the sap flow started early in the winter, no healthy shoots should be removed. The risk of a large fluid loss would be too high. Your Japanese Maple can literally bleed out. Of course, this does not apply to dead shoots, since there is no more juice in them.

Summer is better for a shape cut

A short-lived fan maple does not require a large cut. For more strongly growing species, a slight shape cut is possible, with shoot tips are shortened. In late summer, the dormancy begins, the juice pressure decreases and thereby the risk of fluid loss. Now is the time to cut individual healthy branches and twigs to get the desired compact shape. In no case should you wait until autumn or even winter, because the cut surfaces then heal badly and are particularly susceptible to disease. How much of the branches you cut off depends on the size of the maple bush and your wishes.
Tip: Cutted shoots, which are still completely healthy, can be used as cuttings for propagation.

The weather of the day also plays a role

Japanese fan maple - Acer palmatum

Secateurs and other cutting tools are often used, with time they lose their sharpness until they are finally dull. Dull tools, however, lead to unclean cuts and bruises on the plant. Cuts heal badly, pathogens can penetrate better and damage the plant. Care should also be taken when cutting different plants, shrubs and trees with the same cutting tools. Pathogens, such as mushrooms, set themselves where they can survive quite a long time. At the next cut they will be transferred to other still healthy plants.
  • Sharpen blades of cutting tools if necessary
  • Thoroughly clean cutting tools with water and detergent
  • Wipe cutting blades with a cloth soaked in alcohol to disinfect them
  • Also disinfect hands as they may have come into contact with pathogens while cleaning the tool.
Note: These precautions should not be neglected, whether for lack of time or other reasons.

Step 3: Determine what to cut away

Before you start the pruning process, take enough time to take a closer look at the shrub or tree. In particular, when healthy shoots should consecrate, the cut must be planned precisely so that the crown retains its beautiful and harmonious appearance even after the cut. If necessary, mark the branches and twigs to be cut away.
Dead and sick shoots must be removed in any case. Healthy shoots should be carefully selected for symmetry.

Step 4: Make a cut

  • If any dead or diseased branches are present, remove them first.
  • Separate the branches at the origin. However, make sure you have a vertical and clean cut without damaging the branch collar (= a short branch attachment point on the trunk)
  • Carefully pull out the cut branches without damaging healthy branches.
Note: If sick branches have been cut off, the scissors must be disinfected again before further use.
  • If necessary, cut off the healthy branches of a maple bush with the garden or pruning shears. Cut best over a branch or thumb width over a bud.
Note: Do not cut into the old wood, cut exclusively fresh / this year's wood. Only here do new impulses develop again.
  • When pruning, the natural shape should be preserved as far as possible, so cut branches evenly distributed over the shrub.
  • Thick branches on large maple trees are best sawn off in several steps, as the last part of the branch may otherwise tear off. First cut it off 10 cm from the trunk and then saw off the remaining stump. However, keep enough distance from the trunk to avoid damaging the branch collar.
Note: Do not tear out even small twigs. This can significantly damage the Japanese Maple. Use only the cutting tool.

Step 5: Seal large cut surfaces.

Japanese fan maple - Acer palmatum

Cut surfaces are open wounds into which pathogens can invade and, for example, cause a fungal infection. Cuts larger than 1 cm in diameter should therefore be sealed with a suitable beeswax. Apply the beeswax with a brush, being careful not to leave out any small area. Please also note the instructions of the manufacturer on the packaging of beeswax. The wax prevents so-called bleeding when the tree loses much of its juice through open and unprotected interfaces.

Special feature: Japanese maple bonsai

If you have a Japanese Maple Bonsai, you need to keep it in shape with a regular cut - unlike a normal maple tree. The best way to do it is in the fall. Auslichten, however, is possible throughout the year. Every other year, a leaf incision is required in which at least half of the leaves are removed to the stalk.
Note: Again, all precautions must be taken from cleaning and disinfecting the cutting tool to sealing the wounds.

Video Board: Growing Japanese Maples.

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