Trimming and pruning
Trimming and Pruning are the means by which a bonsai is kept miniature. This involves the systematic removal of vigorous growth in the spring. The first step in how to prune a bonsai tree is that you always want to make sure you are pruning the tree in the appropriate season. Although there are some types of trees that can be pruned and trained throughout the year, many trees must be worked with during a specific time. Otherwise, you will find that you run into all types of problems. Although you can conduct a lot of research on-line, if you are unsure the right time for your particular type of tree, locate a bonsai specialist or nursery in your area that can provide you with guidance. Just remember that whatever rule applies to the full-sized tree will also apply to your miniature tree.
The most important aspect of pruning a bonsai tree is you need to provide your tree with adequate time to recover after going through a severe pruning. With proper care and scheduled pruning, your tree will grow and remain healthy for years. In fact, many bonsai trees have been passed down from generation to generation. When pruning, you want to focus the majority of your attention on the trunk, which will add to the illusion of mature size and age, more so than any other feature on the tree.
Next on how to prune a bonsai tree, be sure you leave extra branches on any weak area of the trunk to help promote growth in that particular area. Then, any problem branches should be removed right away. Problem branches would be considered those that cross each other, growing back sharply toward the trunk or from the underside of the main branches. The challenge when you experience this is that you end up with a cluttered or messy appearance that takes away from the artistic line of the tree.
Another important aspect of how to prune a bonsai tree is that whatever you do above ground level will also affect what happens to the tree below the ground and vice versa. In other words, if you prune the branches and leaves heavily with no cutting back of the root system, then the following season, the bonsai tree could have an incredible burst of growth as it tries to fix the imbalance. With bonsai, you can allow the root system to be ahead of the foliage and branches but by no more than 30%. If you find that you need more root growth, you can move the bonsai tree to a larger container to encourage the roots to spread.
As you can see, how to prune your bonsai tree is not a complicated subject but it is a necessary one. You have to prune your tree as a means of maintaining the correct shape of the tree, while encouraging new growth. What you will discover is that some trees respond naturally and very well to pruning while others have a hard time recovering. Again, the key is to prune only in the right season for the type of tree you have. With evergreen coniferous bonsai trees, you can use a method known as “finger pruning”, which means to pinch back new growth that does not have the general shape of the bonsai or growth at the top of the tree. This method will encourage fuller foliage and a better looking bonsai.
When it comes to how to prune a bonsai tree for deciduous, which would include tree such as the Chinese Elm and Maples, you would use the tip of sharp scissors for pruning. For this, when you trim outward, you want to trim back the shoots but just after the next series of leaves. Finally, leaf pruning is used for both tropical and deciduous plants. This helps reduce the size of the leaves, get rid of unsightly leaves, and encourage growth by creating two growing seasons in one. Again, when it comes to how to prune a bonsai, the process is not difficult as long as you are careful!
Wiring accompanies trimming and pruning are the means by which a bonsai is grown to the desired shape. The tree is wired to assist in getting branches to grow in a specific position and to enhance the look of the tree. Depending on the tree and its growth rate the wire is removed after 6 – 18 months and before your tree grows in to the wire. Usually the branch should then stay in that position on it's own, if not you will have to rewire to the desired shape. Wire should be carefully cut from the branches. Do not unwind wires as this could break the branch. Trim branches to expose the trunk and to shape the tree into the look you want. Two goals in bonsai are to make young trees look older by thickening the trunk and the positioning of the branches, and to find enjoyment in Nature.