Getting my trim on! A subject that can not be covered enough.

A you can see with this lovely warm summer days comes rapid growing foliage. During these fast growing periods it’s good to keep you hand on the excess growth of the trees and to remove them weekly. This is very important as the more foliage you allow on the tree the more water the tree uses. If the tree has a lot of foliage you will find that the leaves of a tree will weep much easier in this heat.

Here is a photo of the tree in the feature photo after it was trimmed. IMG_5519.jpg

Before I show you all the trees that I trimmed I want to explain how and where to trim different tree species. There are too many leave types to describe them all in one blog so I divided them into the two most commonly used as bonsai:

  1. Bold leaf trees
  2. Conifer or Needle trees

Under the first mentioned category you get a few sub categories:
a. Evergreen trees
b.Deciduous trees
c. Tropical tree (Ficus)

Each one of these trees get trimmed differently. Under the evergreen heading I trimmed a Oval Privet. These trees are used for hedging and fencing. For these type of trees I would allow the tree to grow out six pairs of leaves. I would then trim back to either two or one set of leaves depending on the direction that I want my branch to grow in. Here is a before and after photo of the Oval Privet I trimmed.
This is the tree after I trimmed it back.
IMG_5481.jpg If you look closely at this tree you will see that I left the tree to grow out long shoots before cutting it back the reason for this was so that the huge cut in the trunk could heal over faster. The more sap flows the faster the huge cuts heal over.

Under deciduous trees I worked on my Celtis Africana trees that I am busy growing as stock to sell. I will only be showing one of the trees I worked on. IMG_5483.jpg So just to give you some back ground on this tree I styled the tree a year ago. In spring last year I repoted this tree. During winter I pruned this tree. I then waited till now to reduce the amount of foliage as the tree was starting to struggle under the heavy canopy. I trimmed the tree back to one and two leaves. With deciduous tree you can cut back hard when the trees are still young and growing vigorously. Here is the tree after I trimmed back the long shoots:
IMG_5484.jpg One thing to keep in mind when trimming back Celtis trees are that they bud back very easily so keep an eye out for any shoots or leaves that appear where you do not want new growth and remove it as quickly as possible before you need heavy machinery to remove it then you sit with big ugly scares.

Tropical trees. Whoop whoop… I just love these types of trees. I call them my little money makers. You can cut of a branch stick it into some soil and boom you have another tree. So under the tropical trees one of the trees that I like to work on are the Ficus species. I have about five different species of Ficus trees in my collection. They are a bit different then the other two tree types discussed above. There leaves are formed by it morphing from these long skinny cylinder type leaf into a oval shape leaf or long weeping leaf depending on the Ficus type. Ficus trees also have this white milky sap that runs out when they are trimmed. I have learned the hard way not to trim to close to the next leaf as the small eye next to the leaf may die as the sap dies out. Causing the tree to form a new leaf one set closer to the tree and not where you wanted. Leave enough space for a bit of die back from the cut.
Here is a Ficus that I trimmed:
This was the tree before I trimmed it. I let the tree grow wild during the winter.
This is what the tree looked like after I trimmed the tree. IMG_5550.jpg The tree did not look to bad after the initial trim but I was not happy with the apex (top section of the tree). In the photo below I will show the section that I felt was to closed up.
IMG_5552.jpg If you looked at the tree from the front this branch hide the apex of the tree. The branch was to big and strong for the position it was in.
IMG_5553.jpg You can clearly see that it blocks your view of the trees apex.
IMG_5555.jpg This is the tree after I removed the branch. You can see the sap running from the tree. Not the best time to trim off such a big branch as I just fertilized the tree a few hours earlier.
IMG_5554.jpg Now the front of the tree is more opened up. With Ficus I tend to cut them back hard as they grow very strong and their branches thickens up rapidly so I remove them before they are too big.

Last but not the less are the Conifers. I have a few trees that fall under this category. I have a few pines, one ceder and a couple of junipers all different sub species. Today I will be showing how I trimmed back a few junipers that I styled earlier this year.
IMG_5562.jpg This was one of three trees I styled with the purpose of selling. It is doing well now and the foliage is becoming more dense now. So I will be opening up the tree more.
As you can see I did not cut off too much of the foliage on the tree. Conifers needs both the growth of the previous year and some of the new growth to survive. If you remove all the new growth the tree will take some time to recover and might even die in some cases. Conifers sends out all the growth to the tips of the branches. So what I do is I normally cut off no more than a third of the new growth on the tree or from a branch. Just to keep the tree growing strong. Here is another example of a Juniper:
IMG_5575.jpgIMG_5569.jpg The last photo is a close up of the trees’ branch so that you can see that I removed some of the long shoots at the top and all of the new shoots that started to grow at the bottom of the branch.

I have read in a few different books that say that you should trim you branches to form a cloud like pattern. I do not know if I am one hundred percent into that but I trim my trees more flat at the bottom and with a slight curve at the top. The center of the branch being the highest.

There are many ways of styling and trimming your trees. At the end it all comes down to personal taste. Once you get the hang of trimming you will find what works for you. Not all bonsai trees look the same so go wild and see what works for you. Take baby steps and consider the trees health with everything you do.

Hope you enjoyed the blog. Please feel free to leave your comments below.



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