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Healthy native larches bonsai will naturally produced needles which can vary in length between 1’’ and 1 ½’’ when fertilized and watered properly. This size of needles is generally too long for small and medium size bonsai.
Many enthusiasts will reduce the length of the needles by limiting the amount of water and fertilizer. Although they do get good result, I am personally uncomfortable with this approach. I feel that it leads to less vigorous trees and less density in the foliage pads.
Needle length before defoliation and after defoliation
I prefer the full defoliation approach which is a technique that I found in the book “Bonsai from the Wild” written by Nick Lenz. It consists of removing every single needle on the tree in the 3rd or fourth week of June.
This technique will require that the larch uses its reserve of energy…
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