Defoliating and shaping three big trident maples

Big trees and Florida summers don’t mix well.
When it comes time to do some work on them, the trees are too heavy to carry into the shade if they’re in ceramic pots or, if they’re still in those big, black, annoyingly brittle, cement mixing tubs, which, when you just look at them, they break and you can’t move them anyway (Did I say “annoyingly” yet?).
It almost seems as though that, trying my best in avoiding eye contact, I can hear them crack when I simply walk past them as they sit on the bench.
The only option is to work on them in the sun, unless you have an apprentice to hold an umbrella over your head to keep the sun off.
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I have three big tridents (which I’ve chronicled before, I’ll post links of each trees blog post as I start each trees update) and, it being June in Florida, it’s time for some work on them.
One caveat before I begin: you’ll be wondering (even more so) about my intelligence at the end of this post.
I’m wondering about my intelligence.
Did I mention the sun?
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The work didn’t start out all that bad, the first tree (which was last seen in this post) was near The Nook and I was able to move it under the roof (and into the glorious cyclonic action of a shop fan on high).
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This tree is in the second phase of styling, after a reboot.
I had branches to wire and enough to ensure that the tree is sufficiently three dimensional to be believable.
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I pruned all the superfluous new shoots and defoliated.
Why did I wait until June for this.
I was waiting for the new growth to harden off (lignify) enough to be able to wire.
The reason I defoliated was to direct some of the energy to latent buds (which means they are there, you can see them, but because a leaf was evident further away on the trunk, it never emerged). Those latent buds are important in creating ramification (twiggyness) and even movement or taper in the branches (they might be a place I could cut back to when I’m in phase three/four).
So that’s the first one.
I’m feeling good.
Number two is mostly in the shade.
Let’s tackle it (it’s grown a lot of branches).
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Whoaa!
Is a closer look any less intimidating?
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Not really.
This one was last seen (here)
I had cut it back pretty severely, but not as severely as some people wanted.
You know the type, they to wanted to see blood (er, sap) with a massive trunk chop.
I did chop the branches back pretty hard and on some spots I was rewarded with perfect back budding.
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After some serious defoliating and judicious pruning I was left with a big ol’ pile of debris…..
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and a naked tree.
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I’m choosing to not wire at this time, maybe at the end of summer I’ll do it.
I get one more season of growth (the autumn) on my deciduous trees than most of the rest of you. Fall, for me in Flor’duh, is a lot like Spring, and I’ll get a flush of new growth on everything I grow. That’s the extra growing season the rest of the country hates us for. In fact, some things like ficus I can even jump start in late winter.
I also got many new shoots where I needed them.
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But what’s really interesting, this tree is in partial shade and it has a higher number of new shoots than the next tree….
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which is in full sun.
But the shoots on the last tree are longer and thicker.
I fertilized the second tree but not the last.
The last tree’s soil dries out faster.
I did a gross root pruning on the second tree (basically turning the tree in the pot, cutting some large roots and replacing soil) but not on the third.
It’s curious to say the least.
The leaf color is darker on the second tree, in partial shade.
I’ll have to experiment some more before I can make a guess as to what’s happening. I have lots of small tridents I’m growing I can experiment on too, fortunately.
I think it’s time to remind you all of the sun again.
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This trident was first shown in this post.
The chops are healing better too.
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I defoliated everything except for some skinny branches I want to thicken.
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The strategy here is to defoliate everything except those leaves on the end growing tips. This directs the energy to the tip and elongates the branch, which thickens the branch as well.
Which is what I need on this one, being the first branch.
The thick branches get cut back.
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And there we have it.
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One growth characteristic I should share with you is how the buds on a trident tend to grow.
First, the buds are opposite, which means that a branch will have a two leaves on the same spot, one on each side exactly opposite of each other.
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As you follow the branch out though, the buds will sprout 90 degrees from the previous buds.
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Which means, if the first leaves are emerging from the sides, the next set will emerge from the top and bottom.
And the next from the sides again.
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And if you are using a clip and grow method, you have to be aware of the bud’s growth direction.
Now for some wire.
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Some more sun.
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And just a few more pics and I can go rest the boiling brains inside my head.
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I so much want to cut this branch.
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But I should really leave it.
Oh, the sun…
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Maybe I should start wearing a funny hat like every other Florida artist?
Nah….I can handle it. I just need some water.
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Told you you’d be questioning my intelligence.

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
This entry was posted in branch placement, updates, wiring and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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