Partial Defoliation of a European Beech

I bought this early last year from an auction at the local club.  It’s the biggest bonsai I have and it was grown from scratch by someone else over a long period! I can only hope my efforts at field growing turn out as well in 20+ years.  Anyway, it spent last year recovering from being lifted from the ground and this year flushed out pretty strongly.  I read up a bit on defoliating beech and am informed that they don’t like entire removal of foliage but only partial and a leaf must be left on the end of each branch as a sap drawer.  There’s a lot of ramification to develop and I wanted the inner branches to receive more light so I was selective.

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I think that the tree would benefit from a tilt at repotting time  so that the trunk is more vertical.  We’ll see.  I’ll branch prune and wire in the autumn.

Pruning a Beech to Shape

About six weeks ago I performed some drastic pruning of this European Beech material that I’ve been growing over the last six years.  Since ground layering a new root system three years ago, it’s been slow to recover.  Finally off to a vigorous start this year so I knew it was ready for shaping by pruning.

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Before work: May 

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Spreading newly established nebari

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Before: leggy growth and few primary branches

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Step 1: Establish a final height of the tree and future apex.

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Step 2: Prune back leggy primary branches.

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Step 3: Go one further and eliminate undesirable primary branches.

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Step 4: Feed heavily and wait for possible backbudding along the trunk.

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After: Late June.  New growth on branch tips.

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New buds from above

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An abundance of adventitious budding.  Happy days!

All being well, I’ll wire growth in the autumn and then put it into a bonsai training pot next year.