As we are nearing the end of the first week of lock down I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. All the trees on my first bench of my bonsai enclosure have been worked on. Suddenly, working on all of my trees during lock down does not seem so far fetched. I removed the wire from the trees, trimmed them back and some of them I just cleaned up the soil mixture to allow more air to reach the roots. This is important as we are nearing our winter months and we need the soil mixture to be well draining.
Below I will be showing how I pruned a Ficus using the clip and grow method. This is a alternative method of styling a tree that involves cutting back the new shoots by selecting the buds you want and removing the rest. While this method results in a more natural looking bonsai tree it takes a few years to develop a great bonsai. I used a Ficus tree to experiment and play around with this technique. Here is the tree that I choose to work with.
The foliage on the tree was left to grow wild. This is to allow the tree to grow out at a rapid rate and thicken the tree. The big seedling tray also provides more nutrients than normal bonsai pots. The tree will stay in this container for the next few years during it’s early stage of development. As this bigger pot will aid in providing a great tree in a shorter amount of time using the clip and grow process.
Before you prune back the branches you need to make sure that the branch you want to cut back is about half the thickness/size of the branch that it stems from. Next you have to determine the direction of the branch by selecting a bud that is growing in that direction and cutting just after that bud.
Here is a close up of the branches before I pruned them.
The branches are compact and you can not see the structure of the tree. Here is the tree after it was pruned.
As you can see there is taper and movement to the trunk and the branches. It was just all hidden by the foliage. The branches that are left on the tree now are all at different heights and stem from the trunk at different angles. Here is a top view so that you can see that there are no overlapping branches.
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