Liquidamber is a genus of 4 species of which Liquidamber styrachiflua is commonly used as bonsai. L. styrachiflua is a deciduous, monoecious tree native to moist woodland in areas of eastern USA and Mexico where it reaches heights of up to 25metres.
Closely resembling the Amur maple, Liquidamber (styrachiflua) has palmate 5 or 7 lobed, glossy, mid-green leaves that take on superb orange, red and purple colours in Autumn. Unlike many other deciduous species, Liquidamber produces ‘sprays’ of leaves from shoots (similar to Gingkos). Mature specimens take on a broadly conical, upright but open habit. Inconspicuous yellow-green flowers are produced in late-Spring; female flowers are followed by spiky, spherical fruit clusters.
Liquidamber can be difficult to style as bonsai; there is a tendency for branches to die back or weaken. Growth is also coarse, with long internodes.
BONSAI CULTIVATION NOTES
POSITION: Full sun. Frost protection required below -10°C. Shelter from freezing winds.
FEEDING: Every two weeks during the growing season.
REPOTTING: Every two years in Spring as buds extend. Use basic soil mix.
PRUNING: As with Birch/Betula species, Liquidamber do not react well to pruning during dormancy that can cause dieback of branches and poor wound healing. Try to limit pruning to the growing season when the tree is active. Prune to shape throughout the growing season paying special attention to pruning back the apical or top growth, failure to do this can lead to weakening and dieback of lower branches.
Scars can take a long time to heal but do heal quicker if wounds are made during the growing season. Reacts well to leaf-pruning.
PROPAGATION: Sow seed outside in Autumn. Greenwood cuttings in summer. Air-layer in late Spring.
PESTS AND DISEASES: Trouble free
STYLING: Suitable for all forms except literati in all sizes.