Whether you’re starting with a new hobby or raising bonsai trees, or you have been growing them for years, you have probably heard of the trident maple. Acer buergerianum or Trident Maple is native to Japan and China and perhaps one of the more popular tree species for bonsai, aside from the palmate maple. 

This tree can grow up to 20m tall, and among its distinguishing characteristics is its leaf shape with three pointed lobes, thus its name. 

The trident maple is an excellent choice for bonsai because it is vigorous and can develop a fat trunk and wide nebari fast. It can also have delicate and dense ramifications. Its tiny leaves are desirable, too. 

In this post, Bonsai Shop shares with you a comprehensive guide on how to take care of your trident bonsai tree:

Trident maple responds quite well with bonsai techniques and is beginner-friendly, too. That said, here are some tips that you should follow when growing trident maple:



The trident maple prefers a sunny and airy space, but you still need to protect it from the scorching heat from the afternoon sun, especially during summer. 



During its growing season, trident maples can grow vigorously. It also requires a lot of water. That said, you should just make it a point to water your bonsai on time but be careful not to overwater. Rainwater is your best option, but if that’s not available, at least try to steer clear of calcareous water as they’re not suitable for your tree. 



It’s best to fertilize the trident maple once a month during the growing season. You can use solid organic fertilizer for this. You can also opt for a liquid product, but that would have to be applied every week. 


Pruning and Wiring

The new shoots during spring can be allowed to grow until you see several leaf pairs. Then you can shorten it and leave just a single pair. The apex usually raises stronger than lower branches, so you should balance its growth by pruning the top and allowing weaker branches to catch up with it. 

As for new shoots that appear during the growing season, they should be continuously shortened. 

If you have a mature bonsai, you should pinch the young shoots to prevent the thickening of the more delicate twigs on the outer canopy. You should also prune large branches during summer because cut wounds start healing almost immediately during this season. Even larger wounds in trident maples can close in a few years. Don’t forget to seal wounds using a cut paste, though, to avoid fungi from finding their way in and prevent die-back of the tree bark. 

During summer, healthy and compact trident maples can be defoliated partly or wholly. You can even do this a few times a year when you have long and warm growth periods. For trees that are still not defoliated, the largest leaves may be removed at any time. You can then shorten the twigs during summer, especially those that have grown in unflattering directions. 



You should report the trident maple every two to three years. Do it in early spring. Larger and older trees can be repotted less often. Make sure you use a well-draining soil mix that has a pH value between 5 and 7. 


Pests and Diseases

You’d rarely see any pests or diseases attacking vigorous trident maples. Sure, there can sometimes be some aphids, caterpillars, or spider mites. You may also see powdery mildew or spot fungi, but they’re not likely to occur. If for some reason you see them, use appropriate pesticides. Also, ensure that you seal cut wounds at once to prevent Verticillium and harmful fungi from finding their way in. Root rot can also happen when you overwater the tree, but as long as you do it right, there’s nothing to worry about. 



These are just some of the things you should remember when you’re growing the trident maple bonsai tree. It might require your time and attention like most bonsai trees do, but the payoff is going to be well worth it. 

Are you ready to get your first bonsai starter kit in Australia? Bonsai Shop has the perfect DIY kit for you. Check it out today and start your new journey of growing bonsai!