Fall is a Good Time to See Weak Branches

In the fall we’ve got a golden opportunity to see where are our deciduous bonsai have weak spots.

It’s fairly simple. If one has a bonsai that is losing its leaves, pay attention to the branch that is the first to turn color, and the first branch to lose its leaves. That is the branch that is weak, which can suggest a number of issues.

IMG_3272

A branch that loses its leaves early is a clue to weakness

Why might a bonsai have weak branches?

  • It may be that your tree has a root problem.
  • It may be that the bonsai simply hasn’t been repotted in a while and is maybe out of sequence because of a harrowing work year, and could use a repotting refresher.
  • It may be that there has been a disease or pest troubling that area, and this can be our first red flag.

If you see a weak branch, maybe tag it with a twisty until next spring, and then selectively defoliate some leaves from the stronger branches in late spring, leaving the weaker branch alone. This can help rebalance a bonsai.

But sometimes it’s simply an old tree with weak branches here and there, and the reasons that an older bonsai might lose a branch can remain mysterious.

Much of bonsai work is following the clues. A branch that shows fall color earlier than the others is one of those clues. Sometimes the tree can benefit from our alertness to a branch that loses its leaves early.

3 Comments

  1. Alan Jabs says:

    Interesting point in this latest post. Something I will file away and make use of in the future. Many thanks..

  2. David Wheeler says:

    Seems like there is always SOMETHING to be aware of…..excellent ‘heads up’. As you may recall, I spoke w/ you at the Japanese Bonsai Garden Volunteers meeting about a Japanese White Pine (I think) that I felt I probably needed some ‘directional’ help. I am still planning on sending a picture or two…….but I am one of the best procrastinators…..I’m ‘…..workin’ on it’ David

    On Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 3:01 AM Michael Hagedorn wrote:

    > crataegus posted: “In the fall we’ve got a golden opportunity to see where > are our deciduous bonsai have weak spots. It’s fairly simple. If one has a > bonsai that is losing its leaves, pay attention to the branch that is the > first to turn color, and the first branch to lose” >

  3. shirl0729 says:

    Thanks Michael. Your postings are indeed a great help to new bonsai enthusiasts.

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