Anyone have experience and can suggest best practice for partial defoliation of Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)? It has long internodes, long leaf petioles, and compound leaf with 3 leaflets, but really cool flaky bark and generally good fall color.
I have one that I have been converting from a deep nursery pot to a shallow bonsai pot over the past 10 years or so while also thickening the truck a bit. Last year I did a near complete defoliation based upon a suggestion from a bonsai professional as a way to push it back in hard and get the lankiness under control. That worked quite well with lots of new buds even though I lost a few medium and small branches. I repotted into an appropriately sized pot this spring (I need to make a glazed oval of the same size as the unglazed one I had) and it responded with good strong growth - long internodes and petioles included! This in spite of pinching out the center of most shoots as soon as I could get them with tweezers.
I just wired, pruned, and partially defoliated this afternoon removing about 2/3 - 3/4 of the foliage. For the partial defoliation I cut off one of the two leaves in about 1/2 of the cases. For the remaining leaves I cut off the larger side leaflet most of the time and then cut the center one by 2/3, and sometimes the other side one if it had any size. We will see how the tree reacts.
PS It is a good idea to style the tree from the front. I did the bottom couple of branches from the back since that is the side my wife and I had admired at lunch. The good news is that only needed a little fine tuning from the front.