Shishigashira from... Lowes?!


(Maurizio Leo) #1

I just had to share this wonderful maple I found at Lowes (!!) here this past weekend. I was completely shocked to find this there as I had no idea they would have such variety. I was searching for a simple pine for my yard, saw this, and bought it immediately. They also had two 3-4ft tall Japanese white pines but I didn’t snag those, still focusing on black pines at the moment.

When I took it home I realized I needed to build my own pot, I did so and proceeded to repot. The leaves are already extending out of the buds so I know I was in the clear in terms of repot timing. The massive plastic container and insane weight was reduced to something I could easily pick up after I removed the caked on clay soil and freed up the roots.

Anyways, just wanted to share and any input (tips with these maples, pot comments, substrate, etc.) are always appreciated!

Also, you can see a ~10 yr old almond in bloom in the background in the 1st photo. I collected that 2 years ago and this is the first year it’s in bloom. That tree is going to be a challenge with that trunk, as you can see the wicked bend and slight reverse taper. I’ll save that for another post here :smile:


(Jeremiah Lee ) #2

Nice, I really love Shishi! They make amazing Bonsai, but are very slow growing and slow to develop. Are you planning to use this as a garden tree or make Bonsai with it? The one you have is a grafted tree which is generally the way you find them when not sourcing specifically from a Bonsai grower. If it were mine and I wanted to make Bonsai, I would just focus on getting it really strong. Then in a year or two I would air layer sections off and start working with those. You could try cuttings as well, you could also use standard Acer P. and make a nice clean graft with Shishi nice and low. Best of luck!


(Jonas Dupuich) #3

Thanks for sharing Maurizio - and my, that’s quite a yard you have going.


(Maurizio Leo) #4

Thanks for the information @yenling29 , I’m not very well versed in maples, just my other acer palm. laceleaf that really struggles here in the Southwest (New Mexico). I try to stick to “native” plants that will do well in full sun here (black pines, my pyracantha, almond, etc.) but I just love maples. I’m curious to see how well this maple does in sun out here. I’ll probably have to build a shade structure here on my property for my maples, especially if my collection grows.

I was planning to use this for bonsai. I actually do not see a graft line, is it visible somewhere? Is it that darkish section above the bottom “knobs” and red area? I think I’ll follow your advice and just build up strength in this tree for a couple years and then see my options at that point. I’d love to keep this as a main tree and air layer more material. I was excited to find a maple with such a thick trunk…

One other question @yenling29: why would you not use this particular tree for bonsai as-is? Is it because of the trunk structure? Or because you’d want to use it to propagate more material?

I’ve not read about grafting shishi onto acer palm., will look into that as well.

Thanks again!


(Maurizio Leo) #5

@bonsaitonight you’re welcome, I love this community, finally a place to ask all the questions I’ve got stored away :smile:

Yes, our new property is very nice – a good chunk of undeveloped land. My buddies and I just got done shoveling 39 tons of small gravel yesterday (with a bobcat as well of course). Talk about a sore back this morning.

One reason we got this property is so I can expand my bonsai collection and have plenty of room to do so. If you’re ever in the Southwest and need some exercise, I have plenty of shovels :slight_smile:


(Jeremiah Lee ) #6

Yes, awesome yard you have!
Japanese Maples don’t seem to love where I live too much. I’m think it’s because we don’t really get enough Chill Hours during the dormant season, might because it’s also very dry where I live. I’m experimenting with humidity trays this year, but don’t know how well they will do.

I believe the graft line is where the red line is. It’s not like this is really bad or anything, maybe just something to take note of.

You absolutely could make Bonsai with the base of this tree, however my preference would just be to air layer a nice section of this and start over. I think in the long run you will have a better final product with the air layer. In the past I tried purchasing a couple trees somewhat similar to this one. I tried a low trunk chop with one and thread grafted the other. I did not really know what I was doing at the results were poor both times. However, even if you were to pull off a big trunk chop or thread grafts, there’s not much taper in the bottom section of the trunk, not the best movement and or surface roots, plus you are dealing with a graft. For me, trying to make Bonsai with a tree like this was a good learning experience and something that I would not discourage you from doing. It’s good to practice grafting, cutting, etc. and see the results are down the road.

I might suggest letting it recover, taking off some air layers, then trying to make Bonsai with the base section in that order. Or you could just do the air layers, then use the tree as a nice garden tree. If Shi Shi turns out to not grow too well where you live, don’t get discouraged. There is a thing called Zone Envy, which is basically where you wish you could grow things that don’t work well where you live. I try to stick with trees that do really well where I live, but I definitely have Zone Envy from time to time. Best of luck!


(Maurizio Leo) #7

@yenling29 thanks so much for the feedback, I really appreciate it. BTW, loving your blog! I’ve been reading through your adventures and it’s been a great read thus far.

I agree with your comments: the bottom section above the graft has little taper, even if it is nice and thick. I’m going to follow your advice by strengthening the tree, attempting some air layers and then perhaps do a heavy trunk chop once I propagate enough material. It will provide some really great practice for me with air layering, I’ve not done this before.

I know it’s only just beginning spring here but the tree is doing really well so far, no burned/scorched leaves (whereas my laceleaf Acer P. is burning already) – I have high hopes it will do well out here!

Zone Envy… hah! That’s exactly what I seem to have with these maples. I travel to Portland frequently and fall in love with their scenery, so many nice maples all over. I do love pines, however, and they will do very well out here with so much sunlight. Most of my collection is pines right now.

Anyways, thanks for the comments and I’ll keep you all posted on how well this tree progresses.


(jim) #8

Your tree could be a seedling. A local nursery had a large shisigashira in his garden area and regularly collected the seeds it produced. A significant percentage were like the parent.


(Sely) #9

@JIM, it’s true that the seeds of a variety could produce a very identical trait as the parent tree but it still isn’t 100% true to it’s name. So if it was a seed of shishigashira it would be stated seedling of shishigashira

I have an Arakawa Japanese maple that produces seedling with some bark characteristics but not quite the same. But if one day I had one that produce a significant difference than the parent tree then I would try to patent it and give it a name.
It would be kind of cool to find one with a finer smaller corkbark that suits shohin.