Trying to get a Japanese maple bud to extend

(Drew) #1

Last year I partial defoliated this tree to try and get this lower bud to extend but it didnt and I think the foliage above it shaded it out quite quickly.
This spring the same this has happened, the bud has developed two leaves but not extended… I guess because its been shaded out again… Ive defoliated the side of the tree blocking its sun so hopefully it’ll start moving. would you partial or fully defoliae the rest of the tree as well?

(Drew) #2

Should I also keep the new growth trimmed back until the bud starts moving?

(Jonas Dupuich) #3

I try to think of this from the tree’s perspective: should I invest in producing new shoots up high where there’s less competition for light or down low where it’s pretty shady?

The only way to dependably get lower branches to elongate is to make a big cut somewhere above the shoots and ensure they get good light. Alternatively, thread or approach grafting are good ways to get lower branches with adequate length.

Partial defoliation is good for strengthening weak areas as long as all of the strong areas have been defoliated. Full defoliation is good for triggering lots of back buds but can be hard on some of the weak, interior shoots (the tree may find it easier to produce a new shoot than to invest in a weak one).

Since you defoliated a significant section of the tree but left strong areas alone, I’d expect the tree to continue to invest in the strong areas. Fully, or at least partially, defoliating the rest of the tree will help trigger new buds, possibly the buds you’re looking to encourage.