Partial defoliation of a Japanese Maple
This is my Chishio Improved, which I have been trying to improve little by little over the last 15 years. I have noticed a tendency for the tree to shed interior growth and grow much stronger on the outer areas. A way to combat this tendency is to partially defoliate the tree, removing one leaf out of each pair of leaves throughout the tree. I did leave full pairs intact on the interior branches.
Here is a close up of one branch before:
And another shot showing each pair of leaves marked with a yellow V, and the cut petiole marked with a blue hash mark:
I find the effect is better if I remove the other leaf from the one of the pair I grab. If that makes sense. it’s tedious work, but you can find a groove and move along pretty quickly. This work took 2 hours. From above, the overlapping of leaves is reduced, and light can get into the interior of the tree, hopefully encouraging backbudding.
I also took the opportunity to unwire and lightly prune some of the excessively strong areas, scrape off the crusty layer of soil and top-dressing of sphagnum moss, and replace it with a fresh layer of akadama. A shot before: