This root-over-Rock trident was started about 11 years ago, and the leaves will reduce down to 1/2″ with constant trimming. Defoliating is used not to reduce leaf size, but to provide some visibility into what’s happening inside the canopy. If an area is getting too coarse inside the canopy, it’s difficult to see. So, in mid-June, I removed all the leaves to get a look. The growing season is long enough that it can continue to grow.
Close-up shot of the coarse branches that need to be pruned back to bifrucating pairs:
And after pruning:
A month later, the tree is full again, but notice the larger leaf size:
Now, pinching will resume for the rest of the growing season, removing the strong shoots that grow past the profile, and large leaves. This pinching is what produces small leaves and shorter internodes; here is a shot in mid-August, after constant trimming to prevent long shoots from running outside the profile.
And after the pruning while defoliated, more these new branches can be kept as part of the next course of ramification.
During the remainder of the growing season, larger leaves will be removed to allow light in. Leaving smaller leaves helps maintain the scale.