Bonsai propagation by cuttings in spring

Arakawa cutting
Arakawa cutting

Propagation by cuttings is always tricky. Different species respond differently to timing and size of cuttings taken. Some prefer winter -hardwood- cuttings. Others root best when cuttings are taken very early in spring. This year I was thinning the growth on my Acer palmatum ‘arakawa’ and decided to try some cuttings. As I was taking cuttings anyway, I decided to get some from my trident too.

In a previous post I showed how I go about taking winter cuttings. Spring cuttings are not fundamentally different. However, this really was a trial! This was in the second week of April: I do not remember taking spring cuttings this early in the year before! The maples in my yard were just turning from very young to more or less woody. The point at which I like to give my trees a spring wiring as within a few weeks the branches set. Note: This is probably a month earlier than normal: We have had a very early start of spring.

In the yard I cut the recent growth from the tree with sharp scissors. I took the cuttings as close to the main stems as possible, trying to include the base of the original bud. To avoid the cuttings desiccating they were popped in a dish with water.

The pots were filled partially with coarse substrate, mainly to avoid the fine substrate from washing out. The top 2/3 of the pot is filled with leftovers from sifting my regular substrate with vermiculite and kanuma added to it.

I removed the lower leaves from each cutting. The growing tip was also taken off. I aimed at taking cuttings with 3 nodes and leaving 2 leaves per cutting. Each cutting was dipped in clonex cutting gel and planted. After planting all the cuttings the pot was thoroughly watered and left to drain. After this, the pot was placed inside a ziplock baggie. This will create a constant moist environment aiding the rooting.

Arakawa cutting in baggie
Arakawa cutting in baggie

Aftercare Arakawa cuttings for bonsai

The bags are now just below my bonsai tables. Each morning and evening they get an hour or so of direct sunlight. The rest of the day is bright but no direct sun to avoid overheating. To stop them from being blown over in the wind, each baggie is wired to the table above. Once a week I verify whether any leaves have died and to see whether there is any new growth. New growth to me is an indication of the start