Trimming your (first) Bonsai tree can be challenging. You have the right tools, but you're still wondering "is this a good idea?" Well, you might want to read this first: ).
Before we start, if you are a beginner to the bonsai, I highly recommend you get a guidebook. Try to get one with pictures, and also one that is easy to understand. I guarantee it will end up saving you time, money and most importantly, your bonsai.
Bonsai trimming is definitely an art. By trimming your bonsai plant, you are not only shaping it up to look artistic, but you are also helping to keep it small and growing healthy. Most bonsai trees will only need to be trimmed two or three times a year.
It is important that you learn about the type of tree you have so that you can prune it at the right time or you may end up with a "not-so-happy" bonsai plant. But as a general rule of thumb, trimming times are, 1) at the start of spring, 2) at the end of summer, and sometimes 3) during late autumn or winter. For the most part, the bulk of the trimming should be done at the start of spring when your bonsai plant will be experiencing vigorous growth.
You can always talk to the specialist at the bonsai nursery when buying your tree to learn when you should do the trimming for that specific type of tree etc.
Many beginners make the mistake of shearing their bonsai as they would a bush or hedge or head. Rather than a big bushy bunch, (or bald) you want your plant to look more like a miniature replica of a mature tree. Keep the branches growing toward open space and away from each other. Don't get too carried away with pruning; bonsai just like normal trees need to have enough leaves as they are the primary organs of photosynthesis*. Only excess leaves and unwanted limbs should be removed.
*Photosynthesis is the process in which the energy of sunlight is collected and used to make sugars. These sugars are then transported to other parts of the tree and used for nutrition.
Heavy trimming usually only takes place once or twice in the life of a bonsai Plant.
Nipping or pinching is the technique used after the basic shape and form of the tree is established. This involves pinching back any new and unwanted growth either at the top of the plant or growth that doesn't come within the general and desired shape of your bonsai tree. It is performed by holding the branch with one hand and pinching the unwanted growth between the forefinger and thumb of the other and removing it with a twisting motion. This is one of the main forms of pruning, especially Evergreen Coniferous bonsai like Cedars and Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis or Tsuga Heterophylla).For these types of bonsai trees it is better than using scissors as they will leave an unnatural look and browning may occur on the leaves. It's also a good and easy way to control new growth, shape the plant, and help develop good foliage.
When your bonsai plant is still young, it's a good idea to leave the branches that surround any weak parts of the tree trunk. This will help it to become stronger. Removing branches from areas where several are growing helps to reduce the cluttered look as well as keep the area from being overrun with foliage. Thinning out some of the branches in the right places will make a better-looking as well as healthier tree.
When you are doing your bonsai trimming, make sure that you get an even look. Cutting away too many branches while ignoring the trunk will cause the tree to grow awkwardly. It will do this in an attempt to balance itself out. The following season, it may look strange and not at all as you planned. To prevent this, trim the trunk in proportion to the branches and vice versa. In other words, make sure to balance out the height of the tree with the width so it looks natural.
The bonsai trimming tools that you use on your tree should be suitable for the tree's size. You do not want to use large shears to trim a miniature tree. Likewise, you need fatter blades to effectively snip off the branches of a full size bonsai. The blades should be short and sharp so they can make clean cuts. Dull blades can damage the tree, especially when used on the trunk. But I'll post more on tools later.
After trimming your bonsai, training wire can be used to force the branches of your bonsai tree to grow in a certain way. Bonsai specialists sometimes use this material if they want a certain look for their tree. It will not harm* the tree's branches at all.
Attach the wire to a section of the branch, and then secure it to another branch or the tree trunk, depending on the direction you want it to grow. I will post more on this later too.
*Caution is advised when attempting to train your branches with wire. If the tree is dehydrated, bending the branch even slightly may cause the branch to split or crack. Also make sure your bonsai is in a strong and healthy condition before applying the "Wire Training Technique"
-Trimming and pruning your bonsai will keep it looking nice, growing the way you want it to, and healthy.
-Research the type of bonsai you have to get specifics on its customized care.
-Bonsai trimming times are, 1.Start of Spring, 2.End of summer, 3.Late Autumn or Winter. Don't miss them!
-A bonsai is meant to look like a miniature replica of the mature tree.
-Don't cut too many leaves off your bonsai plant. They supply "plant food".
-Remember the Nipping and Pinching technique.
-Keep your bonsais width and height in proportion.
-Use the right bonsai trimming tools.
-Wire Training is a good option for custom tree shaping.
-Save Time and Money and get yourself This Book!
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Hi, Yuki here,
If you found this article helpful or just liked it for some odd reason feel free to drop by my site Bonsai Green Thumb for more stuff. Thanks!