Category Archives: Leaf Reduction

Bonsai Leaf Reduction

Part 22 of a series by Eugene Howell

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Bonsai TreeThis is a continuation of an article on bonsai leaf reduction by defoliating. In the previous article we learned that if a bonsai loses all its leaves during the growing season, it will replace them with new ones, but that the new leaves will be smaller than the original ones. Thus we have one technique for reducing leaf size; complete defoliation of the tree.

When the leaves are removed the tree maintains life by using its stored food, so completely defoliating a tree too frequently is not recommended unless you happen to live in a subtropical area like South Florida. In temperate parts of the country it’s recommended that defoliating a bonsai be done only once each year because the tree must be given enough time (with leaves) to store up food to get through the winter. In Florida our evergreen trees do not go completely dormant and deciduous trees are dormant for only a few weeks. So a large store of food isn’t necessary. Thus, here in Florida defoliating bonsai can be done in late Spring, and again in late Summer.
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Bonsai Defoliation

Part 21 of a series by Eugene Howell

Click the play button to listen to this episode.

Plant close upEvery once in a while I’ll see a bonsai on display that’s really outstanding. I’ll stop and take a good long look at it trying to figure out what makes it so attractive. In addition to the perfect branch placement, the outstanding ramification and beautifully formed leaf pads, there’s a little something extra that seems to make it a perfect bonsai. After studying it for a little while, and knowing something about the particular species, I’ll realize that it’s the leaves. The leaves are in perfect proportion to the size of the tree and this is what makes it look really good.

Bonsai tree’s are supposed to resemble full grown trees but on a very small scale. Frequently, however, people will bonsai a species of tree or shrub that has naturally large leaves. The end result is a bonsai that does not resemble a full grown tree because the large leaves are way out of proportion compared to the twigs and branches.
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