How to Defoliate a Larch Bonsai

How to Defoliate a Larch Bonsai

I’m trying out a new technique to control the growth and vigor on my Larch bonsai forest!
I’m also preparing for a cold night with a chance of frost.

It has been just over a month since i planted this forest this forest is a mixed forest it has native trees it has north american larches in the front and behind it north american black spruce if i were to picture a scale for this forest i would imagine a person quite small maybe yeah maybe three centimeters just over an inch tall that would look about right for these trees in a uh a scale planting like this the trees have to be kept fairly pruned otherwise they get big and shaggy and it doesn’t look very miniature anymore so today i’m going to go in and refine all the trees doing some pinching pruning refining the moss getting it all looking good it looks like all the trees have survived in the forest there were a few there’s one over here that i wasn’t sure if it was going to make it but then it got this nice strong shoot up top there were a couple of shoots coming out near the apex there one at the back so it looks like it’s recovering a lot of times when you’re repotting trees they struggle a bit at first but then the roots start growing and the strength of the tree comes back so that’s what’s happened with a lot of these trees but so far everyone is alive except my two dead trees that i planted here on purpose that gives it kind of that bog feel in uh some bogs you see a lot of dead trees growing in the middle of a kind of a swamp my wild chamomile in here has become quite tall you can see the one out front is tall the one at the back has a flower on top and it’s getting as tall as some of the trees so i’m going to have to prune those back and get them back to scale and i like them i like them in the planting they look like you know a little tree once i prune them to size i think they’ll be perfect i also like my little undercover here it reminds me of some bog forest maybe a stand of ferns or something yeah i i really like having sort of these mixed plants moss plants on the forest floor the moss is doing quite well you can see it in back behind the dead trees there the dead spruce and i can come around here there’s a look at the moss nice and lush and green the mosso front is a little yellowy but that’s normal this time of year in mid-summer you know when it’s hot we’ve had a lot of hot weather lately it’s hard to keep moss looking perfectly green so it’s natural that it goes a little yellowy over the summer and then when the cooler weather comes and the rains the moss greens up once again this forest looks in 2d when you see it on camera it looks very crowded and sort of uninviting and i like that about it i think it looks like a realistic force that you know if you were to walk into this forest you’d have to figure out well where can i go what path should i take maybe there is no path and you’ve got to make your own or find a path it’s uh there’s no obvious entrance into the force that invites you in and takes you down a you know a man-made path or a a deer path or anything it’s it reminds me of a lot of force i’ve been in and you look at the forest and you wonder oh how am i going to get through here how do i get from a to b there’s no obvious way and that’s what i like about this one it has that really natural wild look to it i’m going to start today by pruning the spruce you can see a lot of them have really long shoots on them they need to be pinched back or pruned back to keep the apex of the trees kind of miniature and again my aim for these black spruce is to get that kind of arrowhead on the top of the tree i will try and keep my lower branches we’ll see how that goes but because i do want that backdrop of green against the large trees so in fall when the larches turn that nice golden color they’ll be kind of highlighted by the spruce the dark color of the spruce behind them i’ll get the forest on the spinning tree boneside turntable and begin the work if the tree is really strong like the central one here i’ll prune it back as tightly as i can get it always keeping a little bit of the new growth all right here i go so here’s a shoot i’ll prune that one back by about i’ll probably take two thirds off it because it is near the apex and it’s good and strong so i’ll just grab the new chute at the base here pinch the tip off here’s another one going vertical grab it by the base pinch the tip off a couple of branches more horizontal and if the shoot looks weak you can take less off you know you can just take a third off it or if it looks really weak just pinch the very tip of it so that’s branch’s pinch but now you know my goal is to bring this apex in really tight like an arrowhead so i do have some shoots back on the branch here that i could prune this branch back shorter so i’ll do that here’s the branch here now off of the branch i’ve got two shoots sticking up vertically which i don’t think they’ll ever be part of the design all they’re going to do is block light to the branch below and maybe stop back budding so i’m going to i’m going to take them off those vertical ones so here i go there goes one another one further back here like that so now i have got the branch coming out it subdivides here there’s one branch coming off here another here so i’ll just take the tip off here so i’ve got that branch as compact as i can get it and the tips are pinched back so i’ll start up here now on this branch and it’s similar i have a branch going in towards the tree here so i’ll get rid of that shoot so that gets rid of that vertical part of the chute now back behind see all these new brand new branches that i have coming out so those weren’t on there when i initially planted this tree so i have the choice i can replace this you know thicker more mature branch up here with some of these smaller ones which i will do so i’m going to take that branch right off [Music] here i go like that i’m going to try this shoot see how it tastes it’s not bad tastes good actually i’m going to continue working on the apex here um i have all these new shoots and then i have the the original apex growing up here so i’m going to pinch the original apex i’m going to keep it i could prune it right back and replace it with one of these fine shoots but i think this tree needs to be this height so i’m going to pinch these shoots back like that and there and i’ll probably get back budding on this apex now i do have a whirl of new branches coming off the apex here um i could thin some of them however you know i do want that arrowhead shape up here i’m going to equalize the vigor a bit in them there’s a stronger shoot here i’ll pinch the tip off like that one here i can pinch the tip like that just taking the little bit of the tip off there’s a branch back here that’s a little thick i’m going to remove it entirely and replace it with a one of those thinner new branches so that’s gone so kind of the apex is dealt with now i’ve got my original apex and all these fine little shoots coming off which are all new shoots this year so it brings me down to my second set of branches down below these ones um i’ll just do some pinching on this one i’ll just pinch it back they’re good strong shoots like that so that branch is pinched back it’s as compact as i can get it if i prune it back to this branch it kind of goes 90 degrees i kind of lose the flow of my branch so i kind of can’t really reduce it too much further at this point in time there’s one back here that has three shoots again i can’t do much all i can do is pinch them for now let me uh do that i’ll just grab it at the base here pinch the top off grab it at the base pinch the top off like that so that branch is pruned up nice and compact there’s a new shoot off here it’s not really strong enough to pinch so i’m just going to leave that for now there’s a branch out here pinch those back i could print this one just a bit too there maybe this one also just i may get some ramification if i pinch the tips okay that’s looking good so that’s kind of you know dealt with the upper part of the tree so i’ll keep going down i’ve got a branch out the back here that’s really strong i’ll do a bit of pruning i’m going to take the tip off of it like that i’ll pinch the pinch the growth on this tip right now like that that’s got that branch boomed up pretty nicely there is a vertical section on it that i could take off shoot sticking straight up i want some more pinching here so you can see as i go down the tree the vigor is less the new shoots are there’s you know good growth on them but it’s not really really vigorous so all i can do is like pinch the tips very lightly on them hoping to get more ramification there’s a branch here that kind of interferes with the tree beside it so i’m going to remove that and i’m going to make a dead wood i’m just going to prune the tip off of it like that just so the trees aren’t meshing with each other they’re not overlapping so this branch i’ll just pinch all the growing tips i should keep eating them i think these spruce tips are high in vitamin c and they taste good when they’re tender i mean they do have that strong sprucy taste of them but but they kind of have a sweet taste too yeah the rest of the tree’s looking fairly good i can’t do a whole lot i’ve kind of pinched it so hopefully i’ll get some back budding on some of these branches and then i can reduce that apex further in time i’ll prune up the rest of the spruce trees in the back row here using the same techniques and then we’ll come back and start on the larches here’s a look at the back of the forest now where all the spruce trees are i’ve got them pruned up as much as i can today and it’s kind of exciting you know taking these i guess this is the second steps for these trees on their way to becoming you know miniaturized trees so it’s quite exciting getting them you know further shaped seeing how they’re developing so i’ve got kind of you know each tree has its space it’s not overlapping too much with the tree beside it and i’ll continue and improve that in the future i’m used to this kind of technique from the larches trying to keep each tree you know tight so it doesn’t spread and start overlapping into the other tree so it just takes you know a lot of pruning yeah letting the tree grow prune it back grow prune it back again so i’m happy with the row of spruce trees i think they’re they’ve come a long way and they’re all alive which is really good i’m back to the front of the forest now and you can see some of the large trees have incredible vigor like look at the size of the needles and the growth on that shoot there really vigorous other ones you know this one has a little tighter growth this one looks healthy that one looks healthy the one back here is really healthy this one’s kind of moderate so i’m going to prune the larches back now so again you know i can either pinch the tip off here or prune it back with scissors there’s lots of space in between the needles for me to get my scissors all right i’ll start on this tree out front here i’ve got a branch here that can be pinched back one here there’s some shoots on the inside there’s one going straight up i’m going to remove dress up fairly good on that branch one below i can pinch the tip off that tip off this one tip off this one those branches look good these ones are just developing i can’t touch those these ones are just developing there’s new shoots coming out and then i’ve got you know the dead section where the rabbits prune these trees off and here’s my first kind of whirl of live branches so i’ll do a little pinching i’ll keep the one out front as my leader and i’ll pinch the other ones back keeping that triangular form like that and that’s got that first large pruned up some of the large trees at the edge of the forest are very tiny you can see the height of them they’re the height of my finger so i’ve gotta you know keep them pruned and try and get a conical shape to them so they look miniature i think it’s just going to be a matter of a bit of pinching on these yeah the rest of the branch structure looks fine it just needs pinching the tips to get more ramification hopefully more back budding and maybe i can shape it into a conical form eventually [Music] all right so here i go with the pinching just pinching the tips off the branches and that’s about it for that tree there’s a few weeds i’m going to pick out here and there’s a little bit of that irish moss very aggressive stuff so i’m going to pick that out and it looks beautiful it’s just it has really deep roots and it uh it’s hard to water the trees then because it kind of chokes out the the surface of the soil becomes covered with this matter roots and it’s hard to get water down into your your pot there you can see this clump of it had flower pods developing so i’m glad to get that out before it goes to seed the other larch in this planting you know the shoots are just starting to elongate so i’ll just do a bit of pinching on them and i’ll probably have to pinch them uh you know three or four times over the summer larger fast growers especially if you water and fertilize them well some of the trees in this planting i do have to prune with scissors i just can’t you know get my fingers in between these trees to pinch them so i come in with the scissors and just prune the tips off and you try and get between the needles but if you don’t you will get a little browning of the needles but unless it’s going in a show or something it quickly you know those brown needles quickly get covered up by more foliage and they fall off eventually anyway so it’s no big deal yeah these miniature forests they require tweezers and these long handle scissors to get in there to get you know the trees pruned there’s just no way for my hand to get in there and do the work if you don’t do the work the force quickly loses its shape and it becomes just a big blob you don’t see the individual trees it just becomes a bit of a mess i’ve got all the trees pruned up in the forest as tight as i can get them for today and now it’s time to work on the landscape here’s a look at the landscape and you have to imagine you’re a person you know this high walking through the woods and you got to look for things that look out of scale so you know moss that’s gotten too high or weeds that have grown up anything that kind of catches your eye as being out of place the first thing i’m going to work on is the wild chamomile it’s grown very tall now i’m going to make them look like miniature trees so i just have to prune them back in height so they’re not quite so tall it almost looks like a miniature sunflower so i think you know if i want it to look like a tree i’m going to prune it back to this node right here like that that looks like a good height the rest aren’t too bad they’re kind of like a small if you’d see a small spruce growing in a forest or something so i’m happy with the rest i’ll just take the flower off this one like that i’ve been looking at the forest floor and i think everything’s looking good i like the moss kind of long it looks like when you walk through a forest you’ve got a lot of plants that are kind of knee to waist high so i think if it was pruned down to look like a manicured lawn it would look out of place i think the taller wilder looking moss looks perfect for this forest the only thing i might do is on the edges both the left and right hand side maybe just transition it shorten the moss at the edges so it kind of flows into the center of the forest a bit so i’ll do that so here i’ve got the flat lip of the pot and then i kind of got a mound of moss here so i just want the moss a little shorter near the edges i got my curved scissors they’re fantastic for pruning moss so i’ll do the same on this side just kind of putting the moss back making that transition into the forest a little smoother and there’s a clearing area here i can prune the moss back a bit too any moss that’s overhanging the lip of the pot you can kind of prune away also just to tidy it up i finished pruning up my north american larch and black spruce forest and i think it’s looking really good so no major changes today no dramatic transformations just maintenance pruning that keeps this forest looking miniature and improving it for the future getting those trees a little tighter looking so just small steps that you know will add up over the years if i keep doing this and uh eventually it should look like you know magical a miniaturized forest and that’s what i’m after let’s fly in now and have a look at the forest [Music] [Music] [Music] so [Music] [Music] [Applause] coming up on the next video i’ll be working on my larch forest and i’m going to try some new techniques that i haven’t done before and that’s defoliation and partial defoliation in the canopies so that’ll be really interesting and i i’m looking forward to seeing the results of this technique and how i can apply it to this forest in the long term the fuji trees are greening up now they usually start greening up around you know june you can see the new growth coming out it’s green and healthy looking so that’s nice to see i like when they green up in spring [Music] there’s my cathedral style cedar and it’s also greening up nicely exciting to see it it’ll be interesting watching it grow this year my small leaf linden is coming out into leaf now looking really good this tree has flowered the last two years in a row so i’m sure it’ll flower again this year my austrian pine uh in a previous video i pinched the buds on it and you can see the needles are definitely unfolding now it’s looking really good it has i mentioned it has a lot of needle density so i’ve got it in full sun here and i’m expecting a lot of growth on it this year and i think maybe it’s my imagination but i think the trunk is already starting to look larger um so yeah i will keep watching this tree over the summer i am expecting good things from it this year a lot of good strong growth on it my scots pine here is continuing to grow this was the experiment where i was going to leave all the new growth mature and harden off and then kind of towards mid to late summer i’m going to hard prune it back my thinking is that all these needles because you know the energy in the tree is being distributed amongst all this foliage that the needle size will be very small and then when i hard prune it back i’ll maintain the shape and it should back bud like crazy because all this needle density will get all kinds of vigor in the tree and then i hard prune it back and all that energy will be you know going into new buds i’ve been using that technique on my bird’s nest spruce i’ve used that for the last i think two years where i let all the new shoots grow and you can see these are the new shoots for this year and i let them harden off and then i go in and prune the tree and yeah it’s uh worked quite well i think you know the only difference in the two techniques between you know pinching the new growth in spring or letting it grow and then hard pruning it back later is how much vigor you want in the tree if you want to decrease the vigor in the tree i would say spring pinching is the best it’ll uh take vigor out of the tree you know if you’re getting too ramp into growth too much elongation if you really want to miniaturize a small tree i would stick with pinching if you kind of want to balance the energy of the tree you know growing it and keeping its shape at the same time i would say maybe this technique’s better letting them mature and then hard pruning it back i don’t know we’ll see we’ll see how you know the two techniques work out i had my natal ficus it’s an african ficus in the greenhouse and i took it out and put it in full sun here now and i’m not going to keep it in the greenhouse because i was getting all kinds of aerial roots on it you can see them back there and they were coming out of the trunk and they come out of the branches my idea for this tree is to grow it like an african ficus in a hot arid environment so in africa some of them don’t get aerial roots just because it’s so dry and that’s what i want this tree to look like i don’t want aerial roots growing on this one even though they grow like crazy if you put them in in humidity so that’s the reason i have it out in full sun now you can see the new leaves the outdoor leaves are just starting to grow in you can see them right up here so that’s exciting because these indoor leaves are they got sunburned and aren’t looking the greatest so i think in a couple of weeks this tree will look much better than it does at the moment but i’m really happy with the development of it i think it’s going to look like a grand old ficus someday i did the video the other day on my douglas firs and i forgot to mention i still have those two little seedlings that lusik brought to me i haven’t planted them yet they’re still in their original pots there so i should do that i just seem to never get time in spring but i’ll definitely do that that one tree that i thought was a beach i’m i’m remembering now that i think it’s a zelkova it’s back here uh someone in the comments mentioned that the beaches get those really thick pointy buds on it and i went yeah that’s right they do and this tree doesn’t have those kind of buds and then i remember back that michael from the club from the kw club he planted a bunch of zelkova seedlings and i remember him giving me one so i’m pretty sure that’s what it is a zelkova my silver maples i noticed on the right on the trunk here you can see a blister there’s a big scale insect there so i’m just picking them off and i’ll give it a spray with soap and water get rid of those but they they’re all growing which is good my maples are doing well there’s my norway maple growing really well my manitoba maples are doing well my red maples doing well the willow’s doing well this is a black willow it’s a native willow my apple tree is growing well yeah everything’s doing quite well i am slowly transitioning trees from the greenhouse to the outdoor full sun like my cyrissa here it’s now been in full sun for not quite a while now so it’s doing well there’s still some of the indoor leaves that are going yellow and falling off but all the new growth looks really good nice small leaves nice tight foliage yeah nothing like growing them in the full sun a lot of articles say not to grow them in full sun but if you keep up with the watering i can see right now it needs more water if you keep up the watering you can grow them in full sun with no problems here’s a look at my witch’s tree and it’s planted over a really nice limestone rock and you know i’ve got it all the roots buried and they’re growing along the rock under there so i’m going to remove all the other rocks i think the tree is firmly anchored to their new rock so i can take away all this soil and these rocks that are holding it in place and finally maybe get a glimpse of what this tree will look like in the future so that’ll also be coming up later on this year i’ve got a lot of my tropical trees growing here in the shade and semi-shade they’re getting used to the outdoors and most of them are adapting quite well i got a little sunburn on some of the leaves you can see my money tree here the leaves are kind of sunburned but the new growth will come in and then i can put it in the full sun yeah so this is just a temporary location for them until they get used to the outdoors hopefully by then i’ll have my greenhouse up and i can arrange the benches properly lots of work to go this summer i’m back out here at the farm we’ve got today and tomorrow to finish getting the manure and then the place is sold so when i started doing the manure it was piled up to the edge of the concrete you couldn’t see any concrete at all so we’ve taken all this which is about i don’t know i would say a third to a half of the manure that’s here so quite a bit it’s been a lot of hard work a lot of lifting but all worth it it’s when you get free compost like this you take it julian and i have loaded up the truck once again with another load of horse manure it’s right full so we’ll be back out tomorrow to get a couple more loads maybe even three or four and that’ll be it i’m happy with my northern mixed forest and that’s all for today i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone you

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