#Bonsaicare : Consistent pruning and the long term effects

Why choose a subject like consistency when talking about pruning you might think. I deliberately chose this topic as I find myself setting things off more and more now that I am running my own company. I prioritize things more according to the return on investment. What I mean by that is that if I have to choose between spending two hours trimming trees or working on leads to generate more clients I tend to go with the latter more often than not. Trimming and pruning trees are not always at the top of my list. You can always catch up on trimming later is the small lie I keep on telling myself even though I know it not to be true. Do you find yourself in the same position? Then keep on reading this blog as I will be sharing my experience with delaying pruning.

Here are a few reasons why putting of work on your bonsai is not a good idea.

  1. You could miss out on a specific window and in some cases this is a small period of a few days. If you miss that then you might have to put work off for a year. For instance you could miss a re-potting period or you might miss a pruning window.
  2. You could put the health of you tree at risk. Bonsai are dependent on us to give it all the care it needs in order to survive. The trees are planted in small containers that have limited amount of food and water available. It is up to us to make sure that the trees have everything it needs to flourish.
  3. Losing the aesthetic features of the bonsai. Bonsai is a art form and for a tree to loss it’s design might be a disaster as these features have been developed over a number of years. It may take a few months or even a few growing seasons to get a tree back to it’s former glory.

These might seem like small things but it all adds up. Picture this you have been working on a bonsai tree for the last five years in a growing container and you are ready to plant this tree in a bonsai pot. For argument sake let’s say it’s a Japanese Maple. You have build the branch structure, the tree is in perfect balance. The ratios are good and the trunk has nice movement. You are busy refining the tree and you just need a few more leaves here and there and you have a fully rounded bonsai tree.
Now let’s say you start getting busy during winter and you are not able to prune the tree during winter. So you put it off, no biggy. You finally get to the tree, it is now early spring and the buds are starting to open up so now you have to re-pot the tree. You re-pot the tree and you allow it grow untouched for a few weeks. After the tree has had time to recover you trim back the tree. You come back the the next day to water the tree you see what seems to be a watery substance that is leaking out of the places were you cut back on the tree. This is due to the high flow of the sap in the tree during the period that you trimmed the tree none the less you continue with your routine as usual as there is not much you can do about it.
During summer you see the tree has less growth than previous years. Let’s fast forward to winter, the leaves have all fallen of the tree and you see the full structure of the tree for the first time in a while. You see flaws in the design that where not there previously . You see long twiggy like straight branches as a result of fasts growing branches during the growing season.
This is just a scenario and I might be over exaggerating a bit but this is just to show you how missing a window and trying to catch up has a ripple effect. These effects take some time to correct and can be avoided if you just stick to your regular routine. Having a routine and working on a tree consistently might save you in the long run.

Here are a few trees that I have worked on today and during the week.
This is a ficus that I bought during one of our club meetings. I’ve had this tree for about three years now. This is the tree before I pruned it. It is a tricky tree as it is late spring now and the tree is only starting to show signs of new growth now. There are a few of the inner branches has died off completely and have dried out all the way to the trunk. Difficult to say why… All the other trees have already been trimmed at less once by now. But generally ficus’ only start showing signs of strong growth in Summer, which will be in two months time for my region.

This is the same tree after I removed a few of the branches. I want to create a nice and round canopy so I only removed the long shots growing outside of the intended canopy line and a few branches growing towards each other just to create space for new growth.

The Celtis Africana in the picture above is one of the trees that have been pruned back earlier in this spring. I will be cutting back the new growth once more later today.


Here is a update on the Liquid Amber that I re-potted a month ago. The tree is covered in leaves and doing well. The tree is responding very good to the new soil mixture. So much so that it started budding back all over even at the base of the trees trunk.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Hope you learnt something new. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them in the section provided below.




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