The question I’ve been asking in recent years is, how many leaves should I remove?
Last year I took a fairly conservative approach. Here’s the tree before and after partial defoliation.
Korean hornbeam – May 2017
After removing about half of the foliage
I’d hesitated to remove more leaves as the tree was recovering from losing all of its foliage early the previous fall. (I had removed the leaves ahead of an exhibit).
I found that a number of small interior branches died back last year, likely due to a lack of light during the growing season.
Not wanting to repeat the mistake, I removed far more foliage this year, including all large leaves, downward-growing leaves, and leaves at the outside of the silhouette.
After partial defoliation – May 2018
Because the remaining leaves have been in the shade up until this point, I placed the tree in a shady spot until the tender leaves get used to the increased light.
When it’s time for cutback in fall, I’ll see if there is more or less dieback than the previous year and adjust my plan for next year’s defoliation accordingly.
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