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Trident maple bonsai

Bonsai care

The bonsai care of a Trident maple (Acer buergerianum) is easy. This species has a strong root growth, is uncomplicated when repotting and tolerates pruning very well. Trident maple bonsai do not have excessive water requirements. Wintering is also easy. All in all, a good bonsai for beginners.


Fertilisation begins in spring with the first leaf shoots and ends around September. Fertilization is carried out every two weeks with a liquid bonsai fertilizer (according to the instructions on the package) or every 4-6 weeks with a solid organic fertilizer (e.g. Biogold or Hanagokoro).

Trident maple bonsai (Acer buergerianum) in Japan
Trident maple bonsai in Japan

In our bonsai nursery we fertilize all Trident maple bonsai trees with mineral fertilizer (is administered with an automatic fertilizer dosing device for the irrigation water).

But we advise the laymen to use an organic bonsai fertilizer. In the case of mineral fertilizers, you can quickly miscalculate when diluting and then there is a risk of over-fertilization.

Organic fertilizers have the great advantage that they are slowly released and gently supply the bonsai tree. If you give significantly more here, nothing happens to the bonsai tree except that it grows too quickly and for too long. It also contains all the necessary trace nutrients that the tree needs.


Because of the strong roots and the generally large amount of leaves, the Trident maple needs plenty of water in midsummer and should also be checked regularly for water requirements in winter. The Trident maple is somewhat more tolerant of occasional dryness than e.g. the Japanese maple and does not get dry leaf tips so quickly.

When repotting please make sure that the substrate is well drained (such as Akadama) so that waterlogging does not happen.


As an outdoor bonsai, the Trident maple likes a sunny spot. Only in midsummer this tree may need a little protection from extreme sunlight around noon as the bonsai pots can get very hot in the sun.


The Trident maple is a hardy outdoor bonsai and can be overwintered well in the unheated foil tent. Problems with wintering are sometimes reported. We cannot confirm that. Even 1-2 weeks at -10°C and below is tolerated without problems. Under no circumstances should a Trident maple bonsai be overwintered too warm. Especially not like an indoor bonsai in the apartment.


Trident maple bonsai (Acer buergerianum) in Japan
Trident maple bonsai in Japan

Any well drained bonsai soil can be used for repotting a bonsai tree. The japanese Akadama bonsai soil has proven itself well here. Adding Kiryu or substrates such as expanded slate is good to further increase the permeability of the bonsai soil.

Mycorrhiza does not need to be added to the earth. Trident maple bonsai grow very well even without mycorrhiza.

Since the Trident maple, like all maple bonsai, has vigorous root growth, it has to be repotted a little more often. Usually the pot is completely filled with roots after 2-3 years. The best time for repotting is in early March (buds swell). A strong root cut should be made here. Often 30-50% of the roots are removed.

Diseases, Pests

With proper bonsai care, a Trident maple is little affected by pests. Rarely, a fungal infection can be determined, which can be treated with the usual means against rust fungi.


Acer buergerianum can be propagated via seeds and cuttings. Unfortunately, it is rarely offered commercially as a young plant.

Bonsai styling

Trident maple bonsai (Acer buergerianum) in Japan
Trident maple bonsai in Japan

Trident maple bonsai are not as popular as the Japanese maple bonsai (Acer palmatum) but are still excellent for bonsai design.

What are the advantages of a trident maple as a bonsai ?

  • A Trident maple bonsai quickly forms many roots and poses no problems when repotting, even with strong root pruning
  • The small leaves of the Trident maple are perfect for bonsai styling
  • This species is very vigorous and also quickly forms a thick trunk as a bonsai tree
  • A good ramnification can quickly be achieved by pinching the Trident maple. A leaf cut (defoliation) is also well tolerated
  • As an easy-care bonsai, a maple is a good bonsai for beginners


The bonsai wire must be checked regularly after it has been applied. If the Trident maple can grow freely, the wire quickly presses on the smooth bark. The resulting pressure points take a long time to disappear.

Wiring takes place in early spring when the leaves are not yet disturbing, but the branches have already become flexible, or in late May, early June after a defoliation (total or partial leaf cut). Here, too, the leaves does not disturb.

Usually 4-6 months are enough until the wired shoots hold the position and the wire can be removed. The best way to unwire a bonsai is to use wire cutters for bonsai. With this tool you can cut the wire on the bonsai tree into small pieces and remove them gently.


With young trees you want to get a thicker trunk, stronger branches and a finer branching. To do this let new shoots grown to 8-10 leaf pairs (sometimes considerably longer) and then cut back to 1-2 leaf pairs.

Leaves that are too large can also be cut off. You only cut off the leaf areas here, you leave the stems on the tree and they fall off by themselves after a while. Pinching of the tips of the shoots is a good technique to get a finer branching.

With healthy trees, a total leaf cut (defoliation) can also be performed every two years. This causes smaller leaves and a stronger autumn color. A leaf cut should not be done too often and only with healthy trees because the tree is stressed here.

Pruning of a bonsai is done according to the styling goals. That means if a branch is to thicken, let the end grows freely and do not cut back. If a better branching is sought, you can prune or pinch 2-3 times a year with healthy Trident maple.


The Trident maple can be designed in almost all styles. Only the broom style does not really fit. Due to its strong root growth, it is particularly suitable for the root over rock style. As a free upright form (Moyogi), a Trident maple bonsai is usually very impressive.

Matching bonsai pots

Glazed bonsai pots are best suited for Trident maple bonsai. Since the Trident maple is a hardy outdoor bonsai, a frost-proof, handmade bonsai pot should be selected if possible. The cheap bonsai pots (made for indoor bonsai) are also almost 100% frost-resistant. However, we do not guarantee frost resistance for these pots.

Unglazed bonsai pots are less suitable (exception: gray pots go very well with the gray bark of the Trident maple).

The Trident maple with its often rounded crown fits quite well in an oval bonsai pot, sometimes also in round bonsai pots. Rectangular bonsai pots are usually not suitable. Flat bonsai pots should be avoided because of the strong root growth. Drip trays for bonsai pots are not required because this tree species should not be maintained in the apartment.

Suitable containers for prebonsai in the growing phase are the plastic bonsai pots. The dark brown color of the pots does not go very well with the often gray trunk of a Trident maple. But these plastic pots are cheap, frost-resistant, impact and UV-stable. For 2-3 year old young plants it is best to use plastic plant pots.

Flowers, Fruits

Flowers and fruits are rarely seen on the Trident maple bonsai. Most bonsai should be too young.

Bark, Roots

The gray, mostly smooth bark is not very sensitive. Nevertheless, the bonsai wire must be applied carefully so that the wire leaves no traces.

The root growth is enormous. As a result, many Trident bonsai trees have impressive roots. Air layering with this bonsai tree functions very well. The first roots often appear (depending on the technique) after 2-3 months.

Above-ground roots can be grown to form a strong root neck. If desired, they would quickly grow together to form a root plate.


The Trident maple (botanical Acer buergerianum, family maples - Aceraceae) is a medium-sized, deciduous tree. It reaches a height of up to 20m with a trunk diameter of up to 50-60cm. The Trident maple is native in China, Japan and Taiwan.

The opposite leaves (like Montpellier maple and Field maple) are three-lobed (from which the name Trident is derived) and turn orange-red to red in autumn. These 3 maple species are also very similar in terms of root growth and tolerance for bonsai pruning.

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