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Defoliating - How to train and shape your Bonsai tree

Defoliation is an important practice to rejuvenate your Bonsai tree and keep it growing healthy and strong.

Women defoliating ficus bonsai tree

Defoliation is done during the summer, in the peak of the growing season, and only on deciduous trees which are healthy enough to endure the process.

When defoliating you are removing all the leaves of the tree and forcing it to grow new, healthy leaves, smaller in size and increasing ramification. You can also defoliate a specific part of the tree if needed to create balance in leaves growth. 

Defoliated Bonsai tree

When is the best time to defoliate 

As mentioned before, for deciduous trees, it is best to defoliate during June, which will leave enough time for new leaves to grow. 

 

 

Do not defoliate your tree if it is sick, still in training phase or if it has gone through another maintenance process (such as repotting, pruning etc.) in the last 2-3 months, as it might be too stressful for it and it might not had enough time to heal from the previous process.  

 

How is defoliating done

Use trimming or pruning shears to cut of the leaves, leaving the leaf stack intact.

What's next?

If your tree is healthy and strong, and you defoliated it during the right time of year, it should have no problem recuperating without any special care. It's recommended though to place it in a shadowed area for about a month so the now- exposed parts of the tree, such as leaves that were uncut or the bark and branches will not get sunburned. 

Happy Growing!