How To Prune Bonsai Trees
Bonsai trees need training throughout their lives in order to:
- Maintain the small size of a naturally large tree
- Give the plant an appearance of age and maturity
Pruning instruments should always be sharp and clean because blunt tools will leave a ragged stump, which could easily become a doorway for disease and pests. Heavy pruning cuts should be whittled down to a slight hollow in the trunk or branch in order to encourage the formation of a callous. Large cuts should be painted with protective paint.
When pruning a branch, try to make the cut just above a bud that is pointing in the direction you want the branch to grow. If the cut slopes downwards, then the water will run off and the chances of rot will be considerably lessened.
Main branch pruning:
Heavy pruning should be carried out in autumn, winter, or early spring, and is the major way of shaping a bonsai tree. The main priorities are to remove any branche that is too low at the front 1 any branch directly opposite another 2 any that creates a so-called cartwheel effect 3and any that crosses the front or back to the other side of the tree. 4 Hollow out all stumps with a sharp knife 5.
Throughout the growing season, cut back shoots of maples 1 zelkovas2 and other broad-leaves to the first or second pair of leaves. Pinch out the tips of juniper shoots3. With pines, 4 remove the center "candles" and pinch back the others.
Do this in early summer on deciduous trees that donot flower or fruit. Use sharp scissors to remove half of each leaf 1 on weak branches or trees, but all but the stalk 2 on strong wood. In a few weeks the stalk will drop and new small foliage and shoots will grow.