We’ve been following along with the development of this Crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, for a couple of months now. It’s a small specimen that I made from a venerable old Crape left to me by my friend Allen Gautreau. I love the trunk of this literati bonsai, and the Chuck Iker pot really complements the tree well.

Here’s something totally expected. Crapes are about the most eager thing to bloom I know of. In fact, even the cuttings I take will often bloom after they’re potted up. So I wasn’t at all surprised when I noticed flower buds forming on this tree. It’ll probably put on a few more flowers for the year, and after that I can focus on developing the branches.

Now for the unexpected. I collected this large Bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, back in February. It responded very well, throwing nice long shoots by April. So as per normal practice, I just fed and watered it and let it grow.

When summer starts to really set in, it’s common for BC foliage to start looking poorly. This is especially true if you use an automatic overhead watering system, like I do. The trees have to get enough water, but when the air circulation dies out the interior foliage suffers. For established specimens, this problem is remedied by defoliating. You’ve seen how I do this in a recent video. But I have never recommended, nor have I ever done, a defoliation on a tree in the first year after collection. The reason for this is pretty obvious: you don’t want to stress a tree any more than you have to. Better to leave the tree alone than to risk harming it.

But ….

Last week I decided to test my own rule on this tree, so I defoliated and did an initial wiring on it. That made me nervous! While I know the tree has already been producing roots, would it have enough to recover from the complete removal of foliage? Well, no better way to find out than to try it.

The other day I thought I noticed a bud or two. That looked promising. Today? All the branches you see have new buds on them, and there are also new trunk buds. So I’m pretty confident the tree has come through the experiment intact.

I plan to try this technique on other specimens in year one, so I can see if it helps or hurts the recovery and growth. I’ll let you know how it goes.