Maple fall pruning help

Hi all

Sorry in advance for my never ending questions. I’m a newbie so new questions comes to mind everyday.

I was gonna do some work fall work on my japanese maple. Aaand i got stuck ind the middle of not knowing what was the better step to take in terms of my pruning. (and also i cracked an apical branch which made me stop and think twice about my next move)

The problem is on the first branch and second, and my question is how far back i should prune it. At moment its very straight and unbendable at least to my degree of comfort. further more there some scaring, and no taper and i in general unsure wether this branch will ever look nice.

I did a partial defoliation in the summer, and the tree didn’t push out much new growth after. I have fertilized with biogold. but not very heavily. And the tree needs to be repotted in spring as drainage is poor.

So my question is should i prune back to red 1 and start the branch over? or red 2 and get moment from that shoot? and secondly prune back to purple and use the shoot there. or should i wait and let it grow, repot and prune back next fall?

thanks all for suggestions :smile:

Perhaps I could suggest another option.
Leave until spring and repot, let it grow and gain in health this season.
My preference is for minor pruning in the fall. Prefer to reserve major pruning the following spring to ensure a longer recovery period of growth. Also prefer to perform major work of any kind only on very healthy tree’s that do not require repotting in the same year.


Thank you frank! That sounds like a plan! Do you agree with what I’m thinking of doing? And how far back is would cut the first branch? All the way back to first bud! Or to the second?

Secondly I wanted to do some root grafting. Can I do that same season as repot? Or would another season for that aswell?

First off, photos can be very deceptive so I would not make a decision based on photos alone. I prefer in person and measurements, not just length but taper is also important. Always in relation to the overall perspective, such as trunk thickness and opposing branches.
Typically I would make the more aggressive cut to ensure that I do not have to start the rebuild process over again by being too conservative.
Check the relationship of primary branch to the trunk for key decision making, then move on from there.
I would feel comfortable with root grafting at the same time as the repot, with the proviso of allowing for full recovery before new work proceeding. Also, limited work and no major work prior to the repot and root grafting. I tend to be cautious and put the tree health as the primary factor in decision making.

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For me the main problems is that the branch is too straight and has very little taper. The rest of the trees branches are actually okay. The tree is still young so I’m just trying to learn as much from it as possible really It’s still in a training pot and I think many people would suggest i focus on the getting the trunk thicker and focus on branching later on. But maybe it’s wisest to get it repotted work in the nebari and regaining vigour and see where that will take me?

It is always preferred to put a higher priority on trunk thickness if that is desired. That is why I stated.
“Check the relationship of primary branch to the trunk for key decision making, then move on from there.”
Best to keep the proper development steps in order, nebari and trunk, then primary branches, secondary branches and so on.
I agree with planning to correct straight sections without taper, that may not prevent growing out the trunk, likely just slow the process!
Others may provide different direction but I tend to want to ensure proper root system and health before progressing.
Best of luck.

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This may seem elementary so please excuse if it is. Pruning maples is
made interesting by the fact that the residual branch left on the tree tends to
die back to the next node(or further!), so you may want to take this fact into consideration…or not.