Pruning Techniques

crab apple by walter pallWith the growing popularity of keeping bonsai and perfecting its art form over the past decade, many people may own or want to own a bonsai. Many people see beautiful pictures of bonsai that have been shaped and pruned into works of art. They themselves want to have a tree as magnificent in the photos so they buy a bonsai tree only to find out it takes special care.

Pruning Your Tree The Right Way

When it comes to caring for your tree and keeping it attractive, having the right knowledge in how to correctly prune and maintain its appearance can make all the difference. While some types of bonsai require more or less care there are some general guidelines that you can follow for all species.

  • Make sure to use flush cuts rather than concave when removing twigs and branches
  • Species such as the Jade Bonsai don’t require sealing when cut while most others do
  • Proper drainage of the soil is essential before removing large branches

Refining Your Bonsai Tree

Refining is the art of shaping the bonsai into the form that you want it to grow in. This is what the bonsai is famous for because of it’s ability to grow into different shapes and forms.

Removing the terminal bud is one of the best ways to stop a branches growth along with pinching buds and branches in key areas. Aluminum wire is the most common method used to refine bonsai because of it’s flexibility while still remaining strong. Aluminum wiring can be found at your local garden shop or hardware store and is relatively cheap. Smaller bonsai can be refined with wire down to 1mm thick while continuously increasing the thickness of the wire as the tree goes.

During the growth season a bonsai tree can grow quite quickly. Constant pruning and maintenance is required to keep things in order. During it’s smaller phases, bonsai may require pinching twice a week while larger trees can do just fine with pinching only once a week.

Bonsai Tree Pruning Tools

There are quite a few tools that master bonsai artists use to refine their trees. However, for the beginner only a few are required to make your life easier.

For most of those just getting into bonsai 2 tools are recommended when you start out. The concave pruner and the bud scissors.

Concave Pruner – The concave pruners unique shape and design allow you to cut the branches in a way that promotes proper healing of the wound.

Bud Scissors – The bud scissors are useful for trimming leaves, branches and buds. It’s design and shape allow you to efficiently and safely refine your tree without causing damage to adjacent areas.

As you grow your collection you are going to require more tools in order to fully develop and maintain your bonsai.

Wire Cutters – Essential for cutting the wire that is used to shape and refine the bonsai. Their small short blades safely remove wire that is already up against the bark and branches without harming the tree.

Root Hooks – Most people don’t realize that they also need to maintain the roots of the bonsai to keep it healthy. Root hooks allows for easy removal of tangled roots and soil.

Knob Cutter – While not always needed the knob cutter is used to remove protruding stubs. It can also be used to efficiently shape and contour the branch and trunk and while quickly removing unwanted wood.

It is said that caring for a bonsai can be a great stress reliever. People have been perfecting the art form for hundreds of years as tools and information is passed from generation to generation.

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