How to use regular trimming to create great bonsai trees.

I have read and wrote a few articles now. I feel that it is time that someone explains how trimming a bonsai tree works. A lot of advice have been given on what branches to remove and when to work on you tree but I feel there is not enough said on trimming and how to do this. I know when I started my bonsai career there was not a lot of though put into trimming and planning a tree. Trimming is one of the things that when done right results in good foliage pads and awesome ramification. By trimming your bonsai tree regularly you can also direct growth where you want it by choosing to trim branches or buds off that grows in unwanted places.

In this blog I will be covering the following:

  1. Tools and techniques.
  2. Different reasons of trimming.
  3. Projects that I worked on.

Tools and Techniques.
I know most of you are reading this and in the back of your mind you are wondering what the difference between pruning and trimming is. Here is a link to a blog I wrote about that:
In short pruning is when you remove large amounts of foliage and trimming is removing small amounts of foliage usually new growth.
In the photo above you can see the tools used for trimming.
As you can see they are small and ideal getting into that unreachable spaces. These tools were all designed to fit into your hand comfortably. The blades were also made to cut across each other this way it sharpens itself but also makes cutting edge smoother and wounds heal over faster.
The other important note to keep in mind is how you hold the scissors. Place your index finger at the bottom of the scissors, place the other three fingers after that in the handle and then place your thumb in the top handle. This will give you more stability when cutting. I must admit this feels uncomfortable at the beginning as most of us get taught to hold a scissor in a different way during our schooling years. As soon as you get use to this you will see that this is the best way to cut your trees. See photos below for a detailed view on different grips for bonsai trimming scissors.


Now that you know how to hold you scissors we can go into how and where to cut. So trimming is used on trees that are in the final stages of development. When trimming a tree a good guideline to use is to trim off to two pairs of leaves after every sixth or eight pairs of leaves on a branch. This is just a guideline as when you are trimming to get foliage in a certain area you can use you own judgement. Then cutting of the brunch it is always a good idea to hold the intended branch in your one hand and the scissors in you other. Another tip that I find helpful is to try and always handle a branch from below as this helps avoid damaging new buds above the branch.
When trimming a tree remove all the small branches that grow straight down and all the small branches that grow straight up. This will help open up the trees structure and make working on the tree easier.

Different reasons of trimming.
Trimming as mentioned above is a great way to shape a tree without having to use wire and other techniques that may cause damage to the tree. Here are a few different reasons why we trim trees:

  1. Directional trimming: Trimming a branch so that it grows in a certain direction.
  2. Trimming to maintain the trees shape.
  3. Trimming for ramification.
  4. Trimming to clean up tree.
  5. Trimming for back budding.

Projects that I worked on.
Here is a Wild Olive tree that I trimmed earlier today.
Here is a detailed image of the branches that I selected to remove.
Here are a few more projects I worked on.

As you can see from the photos above on some of the trees you can see a huge difference in the before and after photos where on the other hand you can barely see any difference to others. The reason for this is that I always allow my trees to grow out a bit more than needed so that it shoots out new growth faster. By allowing the tree to grow more at the top you allow more roots to grow. After you remove the extra branches there is more roots than branches this causes the tree to send out trees shoots faster to balance out the top and bottom of the tree.

Thank you for reading the blog. Please feel free to leave your comments below.


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