Healthy trident maples are among the most vigorous deciduous bonsai species. When they are growing well, they can be defoliated three – and sometimes four – times each year. Climate and tree health determine exactly how many times makes sense for any given tree.
I partially defoliated a root-over-rock trident back in June. Two weeks later, the tree was covered with new leaves. Now, at the beginning of August, the longest shoots have extended well beyond the silhouette of the tree. It’s time to defoliate again.
Trident maple – August 2017
I began by reducing the longest shoots. I could have done this before they became so large, but I wanted to ensure the tree was growing well so I let them be.
The internodes on these shoots are much too large to be useful.
Long internodes on new shoot
For now, I’ll be removing these shoots in an effort to encourage interior shoots. The idea is to keep – for now – a small amount of new growth.
Lining up the cut
After making the cut
I treated smaller shoots the same way.
New shoot that extends beyond the silhouette
Lining up the cut
After removing the shoot
Here’s what the tree looked like after reducing the longest shoots.
Even after cutback, the foliage is dense. Leaving so many large leaves prevents light from reaching the interior of the tree. To keep these branches healthy, I need to further reduce the foliage.
Here’s a branch with large leaves.
Branch with large leaves
And here it is after removing the largest leaves.
After removing the largest leaves
I further reduced the foliage by removing the leaves that hang down.
Plucking a leaf that hangs down
After plucking the downward-facing leaves
Once this work was done, it was easy to see the structure of the tree.
After cutback and partial defoliation
If you look closely, you can see that the shoots near the ends of the branches are on the long side. I plan to reduce these branches in fall. In the meantime, I’ll let the tree grow freely.