Many people who embark on Bonsai shy away from pruning or sculpting their miniature tree. Short term this shouldn’t cause too many problems. However, as time goes by and your Bonsai continues to grow the need for pruning becomes a necessity in order to maintain the health of the tree.
The art of Bonsai is to mimic a naturally growing tree but in miniature. This can only be achieved by the careful pruning of both branches and roots, and is something that should be encouraged to any wannabe Bonsai master.
So if your Bonsai is starting to look a little tired and past its best, it maybe time to whip out those secateurs and give your miniature tree a haircut. Before you do however its important to have an understanding of what it is you are trying to achieve. Its best, therefore, to have a design or sketch at the ready so you can easily refer too when you are unsure of what to sculpt.
Make sure also that your secateurs are sharp and designed for the job in hand. An investment into a quality set will ensure good clean cuts, vital for snipping away unwanted foliage without snagging your Bonsai and thereby causing possible disease.
With design at hand its time to start sculpting. When pruning you should always trim back to new growth. This will ensure that new buds will route the direction the bud is facing, thereby, enabling you to have more control on the way your Bonsai grows.
With unwanted leaves and foliage a popular Bonsai technique to master is ‘finger pruning’. This method of shaping your tree involves rolling the unwanted growth between thumb and forefinger before a final twist to remove the surplus. It’s a good idea to practice this method on something other than your Bonsai first as you can cause substantial damage to the trunk if the motion isn’t continuous and precise.
Now that the top of your Bonsai has been dealt with its a good idea to consider root pruning too. Its generally okay to remove about one third of the root ball every few years. This will ensure your Bonsai tree remains perfectly balanced both above and below soil level. Now is also the perfect time to refresh your Bonsai soil with some new quality replacement. A little bit of fertilizer thrown into the mix can also be beneficial to your miniature tree too.
Remember to water your Bonsai tree regularly whilst making sure it never dries out or becomes drenched with water. Trying to keep the soil consistently moist by watering daily is likely to be more beneficial in the long run.
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