The scientific name for vine maple is Acer Circinatum. This variety grows into a large shrub that will be between five to eight meters tall. They grow very well in the shadow of much bigger canopied trees between southwest British Columbia to northern California. They have been found in altitudes up to fifteen hundred meters.
Sometimes vine maple grows into a tree up to eighteen meters tall. The leaves look very attractive with seven to eleven lobes. Since the leaves turn bright orange-red in fall, they are used for decoration purposes too.
Vine maple belongs to the Plantae kingdom of trees and is native to western North America. They are very similar to Japanese maples Acer Palmatum. They belong to Genus Acer and are found along the Columbia Gorge and Coastal Forest. They belong to the Palmatum group of maple trees. They bear a lot of resemblance with Acer Japonicum, which is commonly known as the Fullmoon Maple.
Origin and Availability
They are found within a three hundred kilometers radius of the Pacific Ocean coast. Acer pseudosieboldianum is also known as Korean Maple is a close relative of vine maple. The flowers are small measuring between six to nine millimeters in diameter. However, the leaves look more attractive to the onlookers.
Acer Circinatum comes in wide variety of cultivars. Some of the most popular ones are- Deshojo (has red foliage in spring and looks very attractive) and Katsura (they are orange in spring and turn green in summer). Even Dissectum (the segmented leaves turn purple and look very appealing) is a very popular cultivar and liked by many people with a green thumb.
How Long Does It Take to Grow Acer Circinatum (Vine Maple) Bonsai Tree?
Since it is easier to grow vine maple compared to other bonsai trees, it is highly recommended for those gardening enthusiasts who are novices. The ones who are just starting with the craft of creating bonsai trees would find growing maple vine much easier compared to other kinds of bonsais. When indoors, they can really liven up a room in a house or an office. The leaves turn gorgeous shades of red, gold, and orange during the autumn months. It adds a lot of color to the home or office space where it is kept.
It takes about ten to fifteen years for an Acer Circinatum bonsai to grow into a mature tree. However, the journey of growing the tree is the fun part.
Position and Lighting
The vine maple bonsai performs well in a sunny environment. Hence, it should be placed in the garden or near the window where there is ample sunlight. It should receive natural air to grow.
Like most bonsais, it should be protected from frost. Hence, if you stay in a cold region in Canada like Edmonton, Alberta, or Regina, Saskatchewan, you need to keep the bonsai in a well-ventilated shed, away from the snowfall. They can withstand temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius, however, they should be kept away from frosting.
If you stay in a very hot place like Las Vegas, Nevada; Hong Kong, China; New Delhi, India; then you again need to protect your bonsai. Keep it in a well-ventilated balcony or garage, away from the harsh sunlight which might cause damage to the leaves.
Bonsai soil requirement is the most crucial part of bonsai cultivation. The soil should be capable of providing excellent drainage and should allow good nutrient binding. Acer Circinatum bonsai needs soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.
Acer Circinatum thrives in cooler, drier conditions, however, it needs ample water too. Ideally, you should water it daily during the summer months, and if you see the soil going dry, then water it a couple of times during the day. It may not need much water during the winters, but during the springs and summers, do not let the soil go dry. Pour some water in the tray underneath the pot so that the water evaporates and keeps the leaves moist.
Use a regular solid, organic fertilizer for your plant and feed it once every two weeks during the spring and summer months. During the fall use a non-nitrogen fertilizer, however, you need not feed the tree during the winter months. If you can dig a compost pit, that manure will be very healthy for your bonsai. Also, you can select a good-quality liquid fertilizer and feed the tree once every week for better growth.
How to Plant and Grow Acer Circinatum (Vine Maple) Bonsai?
Acer Circinatum is a deciduous shrub which means it sheds its leaves annually. According to bonsai horticulture, due to its availability, low-cost maintenance, and longevity, vine maple is very popular in the plant kingdom. The trunk diameter takes time to grow, and you need to take special care of that.
Vine maple bonsai can be propagated by planting seeds. It will take a longer time to cultivate the bonsai by first preparing the soil, then inserting the seeds and allowing them to germinate.
Hence, gardeners choose to graft the cuttings and create the bonsai from there. Choose a branch that has the look and structure which you like. Use rooting hormone in the right quantity and then wrap that whole area from where the roots will grow using the sphagnum moss. Cover the entire area with plastic to ensure the moisture remains intact. Tie a string to keep the moss and plastic intact. After a few weeks’ time, you will see some roots growing from there. Cut the branch from the original tree after the area where the roots have grown and place it in a pot that you have already prepared.
Use ample water after potting the tree for the first time. Allow it to settle down in the new soil and flourish.
Pruning and Wiring
New growth on the vine maple is slow. Constant pruning is required to avoid long internodes. After two pairs of leaves have appeared, you need to start with wiring first. Visualize, watch videos, and create your own intricate designs. Before the blooms break, wire your plant during the spring season. Use a soft copper, iron, or stainless wire to direct the branches in the route you want them to grow in.
To reduce the size of the leaves, you need to constantly prune them. This will even help the color of the leaves to become greener and healthier. Trimming the extra branches can be done throughout the year. During autumn or summer, pruning should be done to reduce the bleeding of the tree.
Since vine maple is vulnerable to some fungal infections, pruning should be done carefully and pruning wounds should be taken care of. Do not allow the twigs to thicken. Pinch them regularly. Remove the tip of the shoot between the first pair of leaves.
During the growing season, keep the leaf stems intact, and prune all the leaves. Allow the new leaves to grow and during this time you can guide them in the direction you like. Alternatively, you can do partial pruning by removing the largest leaves and the closely spaced leaves.
Once in two years, you need to repot Acer Circinatum bonsai. Since it has strong roots, the pot gets filled easily. You may use the same pot if it has not cracked or chipped. If you in a mood to change the look of the area where you have kept the maple vine bonsai, then think about changing the flowerpot. Lift the entire bonsai and take off sixty % of the root ball. One-third of the root will allow the new root to grow well and you will get to see the change in the canopy growth.
Use a new mixture of soil with pumice and lava rock and fill the pot with it. Now place the root ball into it and fill the rest of the place with soil. Water the plant well and allow it to grow in a sunny area.
After about five years, while repotting choose a bigger pot for your bonsai to spread its roots and grow further.
How to Care for Your Acer Circinatum (Vine Maple) Bonsai?
You have completed the entire cycle of grafting, wiring, pruning, watering, and fertilizing your bonsai tree. Even though vine maple is not delicate, you need to take proper care of the bonsai for it to bloom and remain healthy.
Saving from Pests and Diseases
Your Acer Circinatum (Vine Maple) bonsai needs to be treated for pests and diseases just like the normal vine maple plant. Since the size of the bonsai is smaller, the dose of the treatment needs to be smaller. Else it will spoil the plant and it might die too.
The vine maple is very sturdy, however, it can be infected by aphids during the springs. These insects are sap-sucking and can cause a lot of damage to your bonsai. A normal insecticide spray is enough to kill aphids.
Verticillium wilt can completely kill the vine maple bonsai. Black spots will appear on the main trunk of your bonsai which will help you to identify this wilt. Unfortunately, you cannot kill this disease and it can get transmitted to other trees in your garden through your gardening tools. So, it is always advisable to always clean and disinfect your tools periodically.
So now you are familiar with the nitty-gritty of growing vine maple at home. Happy gardening!!!