I fully defoliated a shohin Japanese maple about six weeks ago. Here’s what the tree looked like after removing all of the leaves.
Shohin Japanese maple – April 30
After a week, small buds started to appear along the branches.
May 10 – new buds appear
Tiny back buds
The first new leaves waited almost a month before opening.
May 25 – new leaves make an appearance
Back buds begin to open
More back buds appear
Once the leaves began to open, the tree’s appearance changed rapidly.
Now that most of the leaves are open, it’s clear that the foliage is still too dense. When these leaves harden off, I’ll look to remove every other leaf and/or reduce leaf size in an effort to let light into the tree’s interior. Without additional light, the new shoots won’t have much of an opportunity to develop which would undo some of the benefit of defoliating in the first place. Cutback and thinning of new shoots will likely wait until fall.
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