How to prune and reshape an overgrown bonsai tree
I started a bonsai for Micky about twelve years ago by cutting up a dwarf procumbens juniper and potting it in a clay saucer. I think the last time I pruned it was about five years ago. It was one of those things I kept meaning to get around to and didn’t. So, the other day, armed with my pruning shears, a pair of scissors, and a cup of Micky’s good coffee, I tackled the job. Here’s what the plant looked like:
The first step is to look inside and see what the trunk looks like. I was pleased to see that the lower portion of this trunk was covered with moss. I looked for unwanted growth and dead stuff. I found it, too.
The only tools I needed were a pair of pruning shears for the woody parts and a pair of scissors to trim the soft growth.
It is important to keep unwanted side shoots off of the trunk. I spent some time studying and cutting any growth that wasn’t supposed to be there. Taking away this growth will help with trunk development and maintain the “theme” of the plant.
I used the scissors to trim the growth tips. This will encourage branching and dwarfing as the plant grows. If you need to know what happens to a plant after pruning, I will place a link on the basics of pruning at the bottom of this article.
It takes time and patience to clean the trunks properly. There were all sorts of unwanted stems and little dead thingies that needed to be removed.
As I proceeded, I found myself alternating between working on the lower trunks and the green “heads” at the top. Here is a section of the plant before trimming
And here is the same section after trimming:
A number of years ago, a spiritual bonsai expert who I then perceived as very old told me, “You must prune the tree so that a bird can fly through it.” I have always remembered that and the advice has served me well. The plant was looking good, and I tried to keep turning it, viewing it from any possible angle and cutting and trimming anything that didn’t belong.
The thing I like most about a job like this is that, in order to do it properly, I have to leave all of the cares and pressures of the world behind and move into another world, becoming, as it were, a “little elf man” who carefully and patiently cares for a tree in his world. As I work on the bonsai tree, it becomes, in my mind, as big as a giant oak. To quote Billy Joel, “You may be right, I may be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.” Anyway, the bonsai came out looking rather nice and I had a good time. Here’s the finished project:
Here’s an article on how to start your own bonsai
Another article, “Pruning as an art form-the basics”
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