Despite relatively cool temperatures this spring, my trident maple has been growing vigorously. I removed the large leaves and trimmed new shoots in April, and found the tree full again in May.
May 2011 – the long shoot that appears to emerge out of the tree’s apex was previously earmarked for an approach graft
To further stimulate the interior shoots, I defoliated all but the weakest branches.
Foliage on the right side of the tree removed
Defoliation complete – front
Defoliation complete – back
Within weeks the tree was full again. This tells me that I can likely defoliate at least two more times this year. If all goes well, I’ll encourage the interior shoots that are necessary to produce a full silhouette.
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Daniel Dolan says
I have a couple of questions:
1] When did you defoliate..late May…early June…late June?
2] You say….” This tells me______” How does this tell you that you can defoliate twice more? Just because it responded well to a one time defoliation?
3] I have read [the Novice’s defense] in every Bonsai book I own that defoliation of maples a] should be done only once every other year as it weakens the tree excessively and b] this is the last step in Bonsai Development the purpose of which is leaf size reduction.
This is the only thing that is actually hard about Bonsai….the coordination of all the collective wisdom of many experienced Bonsai practitioners.
I would appreciate your comments.
Hi Daniel – you’re right about the difficulty of coordinating bonsai information. It’s really hard without a good teacher to help sort it all out. The defoliation dates are on the photos themselves if you click on them and view them in smugmug. I wouldn’t recommend using the dates as guides as the timing for defoliation depends on the health and vigor of individual trees living in their individual climates. Because this maple leafed out quickly after defoliation, I can expect similar results later in the year. As for the every other year comment, this really depends on the tree. It’s common to defoliate trident maples several times a year. In addition to keeping leaf size down – something I’m less concerned with – defoliation and partial defoliation can weaken strong areas and encourage growth in weak, interior areas. We can do this by only defoliating the strong areas. Hope this helps!
John Kirby says
Nice Jonas, great sequence. I think the other thing we get from defoliation is the rapid increase in ramification (twigginess) without the thickening of the base and secondary branches. This really gives you mature tree look. Especially if you done the leg work of getting the base btanch structure through wiring and pruning back- the taper and maturity advance rapidly. I Arkansas we could easily do 5-6 cycles a year with tridents, but you really had to get the fertilizer on them early and then late to help maintain strength. I can not agree with you more, the best way to learn what you can do is to get the right teacher and stick with it.
John Kirby says