Thread Grafting a Mame Japanese Maple

I’ve had this little Japanese Maple for 14 years. It was originally set in a two tree setting and the smaller of the two. I separated the trees many years ago and have continued to work on this tree as a mame bonsai. I have always liked its tachiagari. It has a beautiful line just above the nebari and up the first third of the tree.

The main area I have struggled with is lower back branches. Mainly because there are none. So this year I took the step of thread grafting a lower back branch.

I have successfully thread grafted Chinese Elm in the past but this will be my first Japanese Maple thread graft.


The steps are pretty simple.

  • Chose the spot you want the branch
  • Drill a hole just large enough to accommodate the new branch
  • Thread a branch either from another tree or the same tree
  • Seal the hole around the thread graft with cut past
  • Stabilize the trees so the graft cant move
  • Wait for the two trees to grow together before separating the trees by removing the unwanted graft side with a flush cut


Some considerations:

  • The two trees must be the same species
  • This works best for deciduous trees during winter
  • There will be scaring on the reverse side if the graft
  • The joint at the graft site can result in swollen cambium tissue and a swollen scare tissue
  • It may take a few years for the graft to take
  • Be careful not to knock the buds off when threading the branch through the hole


This graft was in a low position on a small bonsai.

To get the thread through at the right height I had to reposition the donating tree at an angle.

The cork under the donating tree was to support it at the correct angle.

I taped the two pots together so the join is stable.

Now to wait for the result. I will post the development of this graft as things progress.