Trident Maple Bonsai Plant Care

Recently, we introduced you to the Chinese elm bonsai tree. Now, we want to acquaint you with the trident maple bonsai, another gorgeous bonsai plant to suit your home. The Acer buergerianum is sought-after by many collectors and enthusiasts. It is a rapid-growing tree found in gardens and city parks. It ‘s because this species is tough and is able to withstand challenging conditions like air pollution, heavy pruning, and dry soil.

What are Trident Maple Bonsai Trees?

The bonsai tree easily towers up to heights of 45 feet in its native habitat. Sometimes gardeners refer to it as the three-toothed maple. It can be found in Korea, China, and Japan. The tri-lobed leaves are glossy green above while paler underneath.

trident maple bonsai

The leaves can turn into various colors of orange, yellow, and red during the fall season. It blooms flowers of bright yellow in spring and has a low spreading growth. With the attractive orange-brown peeling bark, it is easy to maintain and train into a bonsai tree.

Another interesting fact about the trident maple is that the tree was first bred in the eastern areas of China and Taiwan. After botanists discovered it in Taiwan, they introduced the tree to Japan, grown as a bonsai for ornamental purposes.

Trident Maple Bonsai Tree Care

Now, here’s a summary of the care and maintenance guide for your maple bonsai tree.

Scientific Name: Acer buergerianum

Common Name: Trident maple or three-toothed maple

Plant Type: Tree

Native to: China, Korea, Japan

Shape: Solid trunk with tri-lobed leaves

Maximum Size: Up to 45-feet in height

Watering Requirements: Drought tolerant

Light Requirements: Full sun with partial shade

Preferred Humidity: High

Preferred Temperature: 25°F (-3.9oC) and above

Soil or Potting Medium: Constant water drainage

Fertilizer: High in nitrogen

Propagation Method: Cuttings and seeds

Vulnerability: Caterpillars

Toxicity: Toxic to horses

Trident Maple Soil Condition

The trident maple can flourish in different soils made up of clay, sand, or loam. but, like most other deciduous trees, it needs free draining ground with 40% organic matter used in bonsai trees. In addition, as it is a broadleaf tree, it needs this organic matter for the roots.

You can include the following to the soil:

  • Akadama
  • Sand with a coarse grain
  • Pumice
  • Turface
  • Diatomite
  • Decomposed granite

Best Lighting Conditions For Your Trident Maple Bonsai

Whether your bonsai tree is grown indoors or outside, it needs full sun. While they can tolerate some shade, they prefer at least six hours of light every day. Trident maple likes lots of sunlight. But when grown as a tree outdoors, you need to provide it with some protection in hotter months at midday grown in a pot.

If kept indoors, you may use natural lighting or growing lights.

Watering Your Bonsai Tree

watering bonsai plant

As your trident maple roots hold back moisture, it is tolerant to drought compared to other tree species. Still, since its grown as a bonsai, you need to water them regularly. During summer, you may find that they need more watering than in winter.

Make sure to regulate watering especially during colder months. Giving too much water can lead to root rot that may further cause death. The important thing is to provide your tree with well-drained soil to prevent this from happening.

Temperature and Humidity Needs

Your trident maple is a hearty tree but remains susceptible to frost. So during winter, keep your tree protected. This deciduous tree does not go dormant like other plants. Your tree enjoys temperatures above 24°F (-4.4oC) but can withstand temperatures of 14°F (-10oC)for up to two weeks at the most, but not lower.

Another important note is to keep your tree warm as the roots have a high moisture content and are vulnerable to frost. It is best to keep it warm indoors. If you live in cooler areas, you can grow it outside in the summer months but bring it inside in winter.

For humidity, it is best to provide your bonsai tree with a pebble tray filled with water during colder months as well. Doing this provides your bonsai trees with sufficient moisture.

Fertilizing Your Maple Bonsai

plant fertilizer

For older trident maple bonsai trees, regular feeding is not needed but is recommended for younger trees. You can use a high-nitrogen fertilizer at first but switch over to a lower-nitrogen one as your tree ages. Doing this produces a controlled growth with the smaller leaves. This is something highly sought after if you do bonsai practice.

You can fertilize your tree once a week for a month in spring for new growth and then apply twice a month. Then, as autumn approaches, you can provide your tree with a low nitrogen feed and higher phosphorous to prepare your trident maple for winter.

Trident Maple Bonsai Propagation

As with most plants, you would like to have another clone of your tree, right? Of course, you do! The best way to achieve this is with propagation. So, how do you propagate your trident maple bonsai? You can do this by growing seeds or gathering cuttings in early spring.

The fantastic thing about the trident maple is that it grows well when the seeds germinate naturally. You can sow the seed in fall outside in a shallow hole about one and a half-inch deep. To determine if the seed will grow, you can leave them in warm water for 24 hours. If the seeds float, they are non-viable.

You may also air-layer the cuttings. The best time to take cuttings is late winter for hardwood bonsais and midsummer for softwood trees. Here are two methods of air-layering that you can do:

Tourniquet Air-Layering

  1. Take a piece of copper wire and wrap it around the trunk or branch where you want new roots to grow.
  2. The wire must not cut deeper than halfway into the bark. So the thicker the branch/trunk, the denser the wire you need.
  3. Take some rooting hormone and dust it around the wound made in the trunk/branch.
  4. Take some sphagnum moss and wrap it around the wound and cover it with plastic.

Ring Air-Layering

  1. Take a knife to cut two parallel slits around the branch but keep enough space in between both the slits.
  2. Remove the ring of bark in between the two cuts until you notice the shiny hardwood.
  3. The ring needs to be wide enough so that the tree does not bridge the wound. Also, make sure the bark is removed from the hardwood.
  4. Take rooting hormone and dust the wound and wrap it with some sphagnum moss-covered with plastic.

Keep the moss moist, and after three months, you should notice roots growing in the moss. Once the bag fills with bulbs, you can cut the layer underneath the new growth. Now, plant the whole bundle without disturbing them in your soil mix.

USDA Growth Zone

growth zone

While your trident maple can survive in USDA zones 4B through to 9, you still need to keep an eye on it for frost. So, it helps to keep your tree winter protected.

Potting and Pruning Your Trident Maples

You can perform repotting periodically on all bonsai trees when the roots fill the pot. Doing this provides your tree with fresh soil and helps encourage growth. You can expect to transplant your bonsai trees every two to three years.

Generally, the process of potting is simple and best done in mid-summer. To do this, you need to remove your trident maple and soil from the bonsai pots. Here are some steps you can follow:

  1. You need to remove about a fourth of the root mass of the outer and bottom parts of the tree.
  2. To do this, you rake the soil away when you prune back the roots.
  3. Once you have pruned back one fourth, you can place it back in another pot.
  4. Make sure there is a screen over the drainage holes and place a thin layer of gravel in the bottom of the container.
  5. Place some fresh soil over the gravel and layer another well-draining soil over it to the previous height of the tree.
  6. Once you place your trident maple bonsais back inside the pot, fill up the pruned root mass with fresh soil.
  7. Work the soil around and under the roots to prevent air pockets.
  8. Water your tree, and best done by submerging it in a tub with water. To prevent soil erosion, you can cover the ground with some moss.

When it comes to pruning and wiring your trident maple, consider these issues. Cutting the large branches results in the extravagance of growth at the site where you cut. Yet, wiring this bonsai tree is ticky when the wood is old. You may find that more aged wood is stiff, resulting in internal fractures in the tree. However, these fractures do heal but can result in ugly swelling. So, it’s best o wire young growth and remove the wire as soon as the growth sets.

Maple Bonsai Varieties

If you love the bonsai tree and are just as excited about it as other bonsai enthusiasts, you will find the following varieties a must-have.

Acer palmatum

Acer palmatum

The Japanese maples are hardwood deciduous trees. These trees have red-burgundy or green leaves turning bright yellow, orange, or red in fall. The young trees have green or reddish bark, turning grayish-brown as they age.



The oak is a vigorous tree, and you may find some of them evergreen not heading their leaves. The tree produces acorns, and you can find many species around the world.



The cherry tree is another famous bonsai tree with bonsai enthusiasts. The tree has these gorgeous white or pink flowers you see in spring, and some of them even carry delicious fruit in summer.

Trident Maple Bonsai Plant Diseases & Pests

Your bonsai tree is hardy and is very disease resistant. The main concern with the tree is caterpillars when grown outside. Another concern is aphids you find on new growth and can lead to root rot. With the correct soil that is free-draining of water, it prevents the roots from getting waterlogged.

Frequently Asked Questions

Your trident maple is hardy to some extent against the sun and pests but not that hardy against frost and needs winter protection.

The cultivar can reach a height of six feet tall with a spread of three feet and is a fast-growing tree.

The short answer is that it is invasive in some countries such as South Africa. So if you have the tree in your yard, it needs to be maintained, but you cannot sell or propagate them. It’s best is to check with your state’s regulations concerning this species. But it is not invasive in North America and grown outside and used as a bonsai tree indoors.

Finding a trident maple bonsai tree is not that difficult online or at your local nursery. But there is no need to leave your home as Plantly has them available for you. The best part is you can have it delivered to your door.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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