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Acer branch crossing advice

Darren Harwood
November 20, 2018

Hey gang! I recently bought acer ornatum. I fell in love with its autumn leaves a few weeks back and when I went back today - it was still there, but completely bare. I don’t believe anyone has posted photos of this acer? Anyone have it? I’d love to see what pictures you might have. Growth rate? I plan to keep it potted as I have ran out of planting space.

Also, two main branches are almost touching.... bit worrying. See pics. Is there anything out there that helps train branches growing apart, that I can buy or make?


Comments (8)

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    Not a very common variety of dissectum and tends to grow taller and more upright than most.

    Tight crotches/branch unions are very common with JM's and tend not to be something very worrisome most of the time. You can insert a wooden spacer between the two that will encourage more separation......just cut a piece of wood to desired length, notch the ends to fit around the branch and gently wedge between the two branches, forcing them apart. I wouldn't attempt too far a distance to begin with but as the branches begin to move apart and strengthen, you can increase the size of the spacer.

    Branch spreaders

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    i would just remove one or the other.. cant really tell from the pix ...

    will it remain potted.. or is it going in the ground ....

    i might contemplate removal of half the canopy ...

    on a plant i am going to transplant.. rather leave it be.. i might not prune until the roots get established ... and then prune out one in a year or two ...

    think in tree time ... which in this case means.. you have a few years before you 'have to' do anything ...

    i tend to want to plant and care for a plant for a year or two.. until established ... and then forget about them.. the spreading idea may be a decade long plan ... which if you want to do.. all the power to ya ... go for it ...


  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    Ken - this a Japanese maple, which you admit you do not/cannot grow!! As a result, the validity of your comments comes into some question :-) Japanese maples tend to be treated very differently from other maples wrt pruning because of their specific growth habit. These do NOT develop leaders or generally even taller trunks like other maples but DO develop very low and often tight branching. This is not something you rush in to prune and this tree is also much too small to be doing ANY pruning on at this time.

    btw, you never remove "half the canopy" of any tree at any time.......unless you are pollarding it.

  • Embothrium

    Multiple photos of other examples showing the inherent character of the tree:


  • Mens Tortuosa(5b Omaha, NE)

    Since the two main branches appear to be crossing over, that could actually produce a very cool and unique look. I would definitely leave them be or spread them apart like Gardengal suggested if they start to rub. I would even consider doing some artful pruning to enhance the twisting look at some point down the road.

  • Mike McGarvey

    It looks like the two leaders cross over the crotch, making it stronger when the leaders are heavier. I've done that. I'll take a picture tomorrow.

  • Mike McGarvey

    Here it is. I pruned it right from the beginning so that the eventual weight would strengthen the crotch rather than weaken it. I was going to have it do another turn, but never got to it. Probably should have just cut one leader off right away and be done with it. The rhododendron is called Lems Monarch and is massive. Looking south.

  • Darren Harwood

    Thank you very much for the advice. I have decided to do as gardengal advised :) I won’t be hacking off anything.

    Really appreciate all your replies.

    Lovd the stem of your plant, Mike. :D

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