Acer Buergerianum

Trident Maple Bonsai

The trident maple gets its name from its three-pointed leaves, which change colour dramatically throughout the seasons. Native to China and Japan, the trident maple is one of the most popular deciduous species for bonsai. It grows fast and develops a thick trunk, leaving a lovely silhouette once the leaves have dropped in winter.

Trident Maple Bonsai Care Guide

Trident Maple Bonsai Care Tips

Choose an outdoor location that is sunny but protected from strong wind and scorching sunlight in the hottest part of summer days. Despite being frost hardy, trident maple bonsai trees should be protected from sustained freezing and intense frost so protect your bonsai tree from temperatures below -5 °C by moving it to an unheated greenhouse, conservatory or providing insulation during winter.

There is no definitive guide to watering and it should be conducted on an observational schedule, not a routine. This means that it is important to keep an eye on the moisture levels of the soil to avoid over and under watering, both which can lead to dropping leaves and/or root death. The amount of water a bonsai requires depends on pot size, climate, airflow, soil and tree type so it is best to use your eyes and fingers to assess whether the soil is damp, wet or dry. 

If the top inch or so of soil has dried, it is ready to be watered. When you water, try to get an even coverage over the roots and soil, allowing water to flow out from the bottom of the pot to ensure a good soaking.

If you are a first-time bonsai owner, another way to water is by submerging the entire pot in water until the bubbles stop. If you choose this method, be aware that your bonsai may not need watering for another two to four days, but this will depend on the factors mentioned above such as soil type, pot size and climate.   

During the spring and summer growing months, maples require a large amount of water which could mean watering twice a day. There is not much danger of overwatering during these months as long as a well-draining compost has been used but take care to use the bare minimum of water during the winter months when the leaves are not photosynthesising.

Using fertiliser on your trident maple will help encourage healthy growth and this should be done periodically from once a week to every two months and only during the growing season. You can start adding Chrysal Liquid Bonsai Feed to your water from March until October and use weekly. Use Naruko Fertiliser Slow Release Bonsai Feed once every one to two months. With Buddhist Pine trees, less is more, and we tend to advise using half the recommended dosage to see how your Buddhist Pine reacts first.

Pruning your bonsai is important not only to create or maintain an aesthetic style but to also ensure light and airflow can reach inner leaves and the shoots and twigs of the trident maple can and should be trimmed all year round. During the early to late spring months use appropriate tools to cut back stems which have grown longer than four leaves, leaving the two leaves which are closest to the stem intact. Save any pruning or cutting of the stronger branches until autumn to prevent bleeding and be sure to use a use wound closure agent since maples are particularly prone to fungal infections. Remove large leaves during periods of active growth to encourage the appearance of smaller and finer leaves.

Training your bonsai using wiring is best done when the tree is in leaf since branches that contain more sap are less likely to snap. Monitor any wiring carefully to ensure that the wire does not become embedded in the bark as the tree grows vigorously over the spring to summer periods. We recommend using wires with a thickness that matches the thickness of the branch: if the wire you choose is too thick you will damage the bark. If it is too thin, it won’t be effective.

Repotting your tree is an important way to provide a fresh and suitable soil mix and ensure appropriate root health. Repot in early spring. Generally, your trident maple will need to be re-potted once every two years if it is young, while older ones can stay in their pots for longer. However, you should always check if it has become root-bound before you change pots. You can do this by lifting the tree gently out of the pot by the main trunk and examining the root system. You will know it is ready if you can see that the roots are circling around each other and the pot. If, however, they still appear contained in the soil, you should place it back and wait until the following spring to check again.  

Trees that are ready for repotting will require root pruning, a suitable new pot and appropriate soil mix.

Maples have a strong and vigorous root system that tolerates heavy pruning and you can cut back the roots aggressively, removing about 30-50% of the root mass to encourage new growth. It is important that the soil mix you choose for the new pot is well-draining and we tend to use a mixture of different speciality bonsai soils on our trees.

When repotting, do not cut back the root mass by a large amount, and choose a well-draining soil mix that has a neutral or slightly higher PH value of 5-6 but not over 7. We tend to use a mixture of different speciality bonsai soils on our trees. Every species is different so please contact us for free soil-mix advice or to take advantage of our repotting service.

Bonsai trees aren’t only magnificent additions to an indoor oasis, they are more than capable of standing out in any garden. Many Bonsai species are incredibly hardy and withstand nature’s colder and damper turns with aplomb making them worthwhile outdoor plants. We have an extensive library of care guides for outdoor bonsai trees. It’s not about selecting the perfect bonsai, it’s about selecting the perfect bonsai for you. 

Acer is a sizable genus of shrubs and trees with over 120 species. Known to most as maples, these palmate-leaved deciduous are closely related to both lychee and horse chestnut. Commonly cultivated for bonsai are the Japanese Red Maple and the Field Maple among its many cultivars. So popular are Acer for bonsai, some hobbyists in Japan grow maples and only maples. 

Trident Maple Bonsai - Typical Queries

You can propagate a Trident Maple Bonsai by seeds, cuttings, or air-layering. Seeds can be collected from mature trees in autumn, and stratified in the refrigerator for three months. Cuttings can be taken from young shoots in spring or summer, and rooted in moist soil or water. Air-layering can be done by making a ring-shaped cut around a branch, and covering it with moist sphagnum moss and plastic wrap. After a few months, roots will form, and the branch can be cut off and potted.

The common pests and diseases of a Trident Maple bonsai include aphids, scale insects, spider mites, leaf spot, anthracnose, and verticillium wilt. You can prevent and treat these problems by keeping your tree healthy, clean, and well-ventilated. You can also use insecticidal soap, neem oil, or fungicide spray as needed.

There are several possible reasons why your Trident Maple bonsai leaves are turning brown, such as:

    • Lack of water: If the soil is too dry, the leaves will wilt and turn brown. You should water your tree more frequently and deeply, and check the drainage of the pot.
    • Excess sun: If the leaves are scorched and crispy, they may have been exposed to too much sun. You should move your tree to a shadier spot, or provide some shade cloth or umbrella.
    • Frost damage: If the leaves are blackened and shriveled, they may have been damaged by frost. You should protect your tree from freezing temperatures, or bring it indoors in the winter.
    • Nutrient deficiency: If the leaves are yellowing and browning at the edges, they may lack some essential nutrients. You should