Defoliating Two Japanese Maples

Valavanis Bonsai Blog

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Although defoliation is “generally” recommended as a bonsai training technique it actually requires considerable thought and it’s necessary to contemplate each specific tree and the purpose of removing foliage. Today I’ve been told that Ryan Neil and others do not recommend total defoliation of healthy maples. Unfortunately, I did not study with Ryan, whom I respect, and others. I must have skipped the defoliation chapters in the books studied. I’ve learned through intense study (both in the US and Japan) and actual practice for well over 50 years that plants, especially Japanese maple cultivars have diverse growth habits and respond differently to bonsai training techniques.

There are numerous reasons for defoliating deciduous, and even broadleaf evergreens, such as for increasing the number of twig ramification, reducing leaf size, transplanting out of season, reducing vigor on developed trees, energy balance, preparing trees for exhibits, improving air circulation and sun, improve autumn…

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