There are generally two types of pruning when caring for bonsai. General maintenance pruning helps your bonsai tree maintain its shape and can be performed at any time.
Structural pruning, to refine your bonsai's shape or create a new style, requires a few considerations.
Here are 5 great tips to consider when pruning your bonsai tree:
1) Most trees prefer not being pruned
This is important to keep in mind as a guiding principle of bonsai care. The extra leaves and branches on your bonsai help to keep your tree strong and healthy. The best time to prune your bonsai tree is when it is growing strongly and has a bushy look to it. If you can easily count the number of leaves on your bonsai tree, you should wait until it is healthier.
2) Timing matters
Bonsai involves many different species of trees, so it is important to research the specific species of tree that you have in order to determine the best time to prune it. Generally, major pruning is better done in late winter to early spring while the tree is still dormant.
3) Avoid removing too much at one time
As a beginner in bonsai, it is best to avoid removing more than 25-30% of the foliage on your tree at one time. This will give your tree time and ability to regather its strength. An important thing to remember is that you can always prune more but you can't glue branches back on. Take pauses during pruning to step back and observe your tree from all angles to ensure you are happy with the progress you are making.
4) Shortening branches is better than removing them
Shortening your bonsai's branches will often trigger back-budding. Back-budding is when your tree will generate new shoots further back on the branch. This is a desirable thing in bonsai and likely to yield new branches closer to the trunk, which can often help create a better illusion of scale and provide new options for future styling.
5) Use proper tools and supplies to avoid scarring
Pruning thick branches on your bonsai tree can create ugly scars on the tree which may not grow out. It is important to use concave branch cutters to reduce the chances of this happening. The sharp blades of these tools and concave cutting action provides enough force to cleanly and easily remove thick branches from tricky places, while leaving a clean cut site that promotes faster healing. You can also apply a product called "cut paste" which helps to protect the wounds against infections while the tree is healing.
Follow these tips when pruning your new bonsai tree and it should be very happy for years to come. As always, if you have any questions about tools for bonsai tree maintenance, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.