Randy Knight Japanese Maple

giharding

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Ah damn, read the thread from the start and was looking forward to seeing a recent pic! Really enjoy your threads mach5, I'm always impressed how much development you can get in just a few seasons!
 

MACH5

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Ah damn, read the thread from the start and was looking forward to seeing a recent pic! Really enjoy your threads mach5, I'm always impressed how much development you can get in just a few seasons!

Thanks giharding! Part of my "secret" is total leaf defoliation. BUT... I do not want to imply that people should go now and start fully defoliating their trees haphazardly. You can kill them or severely weaken them if it's done to the wrong maple either because of its cultivar or state of health. One must be careful with this technique but it has been quite effective in my experience when used judiciously. It should be employed at the stage of refinement and not if one is trying to develop trunks and/or main branch structures.

@Bonsai Nut when Sergio hit's 10k messages, can his nickname be "the heartbreaker" ?

LOL yeah that's what the ladies say all the time! :p:p
 

Drew

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Thanks giharding! Part of my "secret" is total leaf defoliation. BUT... I do not want to imply that people should go now and start fully defoliating their trees haphazardly. You can kill them or severely weaken them if it's done to the wrong maple either because of its cultivar or state of health. One must be careful with this technique but it has been quite effective in my experience when used judiciously. It should be employed at the stage of refinement and not if one is trying to develop trunks and/or main branch structures.
All of my maples are a thick ball of leaves now.. What time of the season do you do this? start/middle of summer? and would you do anything else to get light into the trees besides the full defoliation? like do a additional partial defoliation after the new summer leaves come out or cut the larger outer spring leaves maybe?
 

MACH5

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All of my maples are a thick ball of leaves now.. What time of the season do you do this? start/middle of summer? and would you do anything else to get light into the trees besides the full defoliation? like do a additional partial defoliation after the new summer leaves come out or cut the larger outer spring leaves maybe?
Yes! To get light in the interior you use partial defoliation.

Full defoliation and partial defoliation are two distinct strategies targeted to obtain different results.

Partial defoliation: Used mainly to get air and light inside the tree to maintain weaker growth healthy. Out of each opposite pair of leaves one is removed on the outside of the entire canopy. This allows about 50% more light inside. Depending on the tree's density this may not be enough, so the remaining leaf is cut in half allowing another 25% more light in. This is only done on the outside of the entire canopy after leaves harden roughly in June depending of your location. Inside weaker growth is left alone. This assures that you keep nice ramification close to the trunk and not just the ends of branches. This technique can also be used to weaken overly strong growth by reducing its ability to make food thus keeping the area in check and avoid it getting to thick.

Full defoliation: This technique is used to increase ramification within a given year. A nice bi-product of this method is that you can get smaller leaves and good fall color. It also can get more light inside briefly and a good time to wire if needed. I only do this once in a while and not every year. Full defoliation weakens a tree so should be used carefully. I only do it once a year on Japanese maples while tridents can take a few full defoliations a year with no problems as long as the tree is healthy. I know of a couple of people that defoliate their Japanese maples a few times a year but I would highly caution against this!! I would also highly caution against fully defoliating red leaf cultivars as by their own nature they are weaker.
 

Drew

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So would you ever do a full defoliation and then later in the same growing season do a additional partial defoliation to let light in?
 

MACH5

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So would you ever do a full defoliation and then later in the same growing season do a additional partial defoliation to let light in?

I personally would not. It's too many insults I think to give to a Japanese maple. You may weaken it too much. I don't think it will die, but you might set it back.

One interesting thing I'd like to add. A few years ago, I did a full defoliation but only a version of it. Meaning, I did only about 60% of the tree. It never produced a second flush mainly because the tree had enough resources to function for the rest of the year with the leaves that were left. Those defoliated areas just went dormant until the following spring. The take away here is that I recommend doing at the very least 75% of the tree if not the full 100% to obtain the desired second flush.
 

LanceMac10

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I personally would not. It's too many insults I think to give to a Japanese maple. You may weaken it too much. I don't think it will die, but you might set it back.

One interesting thing I'd like to add. A few years ago, I did a full defoliation but only a version of it. Meaning, I did only about 60% of the tree. It never produced a second flush mainly because the tree had enough resources to function for the rest of the year with the leaves that were left. Those defoliated areas just went dormant until the following spring. The take away here is that I recommend doing at the very least 75% of the tree if not the full 100% to obtain the desired second flush.




100% on the 100%.....don't bother leaving anything but the weakest of interior shoots.
 
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