Saturday, November 7, 2009
Caring For Bonsai Trees - Pruning, Thinning and Pinching
Photo by Euro-bonsai.net
Story by Christine McKinnon
As a beginner to caring for bonsai trees, I was keen to start making it grow the way I wanted, but perhaps I was being a little impatient. Bonsai are not like house plants, they take years to form into the beautiful works of art that I admired. I am a newcomer to bonsai and are just learning the basics of keeping my tree alive. What I really needed to know about pruning at this time was how to keep my tree 'under control' and keep it miniature and in the original shape by removing any excessive new growth.
To keep the growth balanced and in shape, pruning is necessary and this is without doubt one of the most enjoyable and satisfying aspects of the hobby. Do not be afraid of pruning - it is an essential part of caring for bonsai, helping to create miniature trees, rather than overgrown bushes.
Branches help to thicken the trunk and you although you will often find too many branches on the Bonsai's that are sold commercially it pays to keep in mind that you can not put it back once its been cut it off! When removing branches, if unsure whether the branch should be removed completely, prune back and leave some buds that could grow back if desired, so that your options are left open. So don't go crazy, my advise would be: if you're not sure, leave it be.
It is said that 'as you cut for the roots, you cut for the branches.' That is to say, when you are pruning the branches of your Bonsai tree, you are going for a balance of the foliage and root systems. There is a close relationship between new shoots and new roots - when a tree's shoots are extending, so are the roots. This is an important fact to remember when caring for bonsai trees.
This is another reason why it is best to prune at this time, before there is excess foliage that would place too much demand on a smaller root system.
Pruning branches must be done carefully and thoughtfully to ensure that you end up with your desired shape. When you are branch pruning, you are removing the thicker branches that clutter the style of the Bonsai tree. These may be 'sticking out' at all angles and detracting from the basic design of the tree.
The types of branches to prune in particular are crossing branches, which are the branches that cross the trunk or each other.
To remove these thicker branches it is a good idea to use a pair of concave cutters. These specially designed cutters allow you to remove the heavy branches without leaving ugly scars.
Trimming is the pruning of the lighter branches and foliage butterfly shears' are usually used for this.
Pinching is simply removing any new growth such as buds and foliage before it extends so that it is placed more evenly amongst the branches of the tree. It encourages growth nearer to the trunk and lower branches by not letting the leaves of the higher branches 'take over'. If you omit this stage when caring for bonsai trees, the lower branches and foliage become weaker and won't grow as well.
Bonsai trees tend to be broad at the trunk base and taper towards an apex. It's important to 'pinch' the leaves and buds once you have as many as you want as this will stop the tree from expending unnecessary energy growing foliage that is not required.
You can do this using your thumb and forefinger or on very delicate areas you can use a pair of tweezers to remove small buds from within shoots.
With a little knowledge, over time, I will be able to trim and pinch my tree to train it to grow into an interesting, aesthetically pleasing shape that will impress my family and friends with my knowledge of caring for bonsai trees. In the meanwhile, I will be looking at different trees to develop an idea of what mine might eventually look like.
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If you would like to know the step by step secrets the Bonsai masters use when caring for bonsai trees <<= = Click this link NOW!" Also, here's another 'must see' article about bonsai trees care.