How to prune Bonsai tree tips! Read on and learn.....

Welcome to our advanced section of how to prune Bonsai tree tips!

Earlier, we explained the basics of Bonsai pruning (click here for a recap!).

Lets look at Seasonal pruning!

How to prune Bonsai tree tips - Preseason

Fine twigged and fast growing deciduous Bonsai always love a good trim before their buds burst.

In the preseason you prune back the branch tips to just above the bud. This stops the foliage clumps or masses from becoming too large, and dwarfing the trunk. We want to keep things in perspective!

Species that take well to preseason bud removal include:

• birch

• beech

• cotoneaster

• elder

• elm

• hornbeam

• liquidamber

• stewartia



How to prune Bonsai tree tips - Early Season

When thinking about pruning your tree in the early season, it pays to know that the earlier you prune the shoot or candle, the more compact growth will be.

Early season pruning will produce a shorter shoot and smaller leaves/needles which is great for volume control.

Do not remove all new growth, aim for just over half.

pine needles

New shoots should typically be pruned at around 1-2cm in length and respond best to being plucked with the fingertips. Using this method you can twist and pull pine candles, for example, by holding the base of the candle(shoot) with one hand and pulling off the top half with your other two fingers.

You might ask why early shoot removal is so beneficial?

Well, this method stunts the shoot and robs it of the ability to produce additional leaves and shoots. The result is a shoot that is small in diameter with smaller leaves.

There are a few theories around the order in which to prune in the early season. Since we're looking at how to prune Bonsai tree tips, we may as well touch on this!

The most commonly practiced one, and one that we feel is the best, is to work in a top to bottom manner, pruning and pinching weak areas first, and then waiting two weeks to prune areas of strong growth.

Remember…. You want your Bonsai to be in proportion….

Areas of strong growth and weak growth need to meet each other to ensure proportions are maintained. You don't want areas of dense foliage and then areas of patchy, unsightly growth. Prune weak areas first, then strong areas. this will allow weaker areas to catch up!

Watch the areas of growth post-prune and ensure the shoots begin to grow similar in size. If they are varied in sizes, you will then need to make a decision to prune on a shoot-by-shoot basis, pruning back shoots that are larger than your desired size.

How to prune Bonsai tree tips - Mid-Season Pruning

This is the time to carefully watch out for new shoot growth. Ensure that all new growth is pruned according to the instructions given in pre-season if required. Some trees will keep shooting throughout the growth season and you need to be aware of this. Some deciduous trees will shoot from branch bases, which can kill the branch itself.

With flowering or fruit trees keep the fruit or flowers minimal. Excess weight can kill your tree, or destroy the shape. This would defeat the purpose of your work!

How to prune Bonsai tree tips - Late-season pruning

Pruning in the late season shortens or eliminates the season's remaining shoots (which you pruned earlier). This pruning will coerce better spring budding the following season. This is called cluster budding (we have been waiting to use that term, our how to prune bonsai tree guide was a perfect opportunity!)

Some artists actually leave their pruning until this season to exaggerate the effect of cluster budding the next year. This should only be done on vigorous trees, or fruit and flowering trees.

In the late season, you should tidy up odd shoots and ensure your tree is well prepared for the winter.

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