In Northern California, I can partially defoliate trident maples 3 times a year. And while I can’t expect the new shoots that warmer, more humid, weather can produce, I can expect fairly vigorous growth. This year, a cool spring kept growth in check. Here is what the tree looked like in early May.
Trident maple after cutbackHere’s a shot of the tree as it was just starting to leaf out this spring. It’s clear that the lowest branches on the tree aren’t much larger than the branches higher up on the tree. They also lack the ramification exhibited by the branches that form the apex.
Trident maple – starting to leaf outSeveral years ago, during an effort to develop the back of the tree as the front – an effort I’ve since given up on – I let some shoots grow fairly long.
Letting shoots grow to thicken branchesThese long shoots quickly produced good primary branches for the “bonus” branches peeking out from behind the stone. Here’s a shot of the back of the tree showing the result of this effort.
The back side of the tree.Letting shoots grow is fun, but it requires care when wire is in place. The goal is to leave the wire in place long enough to set the branches without letting them cut in excessively. Trident maples recover well from minor scarring, but minor scars can become major in a matter of weeks. I’ll paying close attention to this tree over the coming months – especially if the weather warms up.