Pruning your Deciduous Bonsai

Get tips to properly prune your deciduous bonsai trees for stunning results. This guide provides all the basics you need to know!

When it comes to bonsai, there are many things that go into creating the perfect tree. In this guide, we will focus on pruning deciduous bonsai trees to create stunning ramifications. There are two main types of leaf structures on deciduous trees- alternate and opposing buds. It is important to understand which type your tree has before you start pruning, as the technique for each is different. With this information in mind, we can start shaping our bonsai tree to achieve beautiful results!

Alternate and Opposite bud arrangement diagram


Alternate buds are when leaves grow out of the branches one at a time in opposite directions. So the first would be on the right, then the next bud would be higher up on the left of the branch.

Opposing buds are when leaves shoot out from the same point on the branch in opposite directions. This type of growth is common in Maples among other trees.

Once you have identified which type of buds are on your Bonsai, we can get started. It is critical to remember that the buds beneath where the cut is made are where the new branches will spring forth. It's also crucial to begin cutting as high above the buds you wish to preserve as possible since this will prevent die-back on those buds.

In the long run, our goal is for one branch to grow into two, then twice as many as that. It's also a good idea to have the branches get shorter and shorter in order to maintain proportion. This will result in fine branches at the tips, giving your deciduous bonsai that magnificent appearance.

The branches must be in proportion to the size of the bonsai. That implies that tiny Bonsai require short tight branching, while bigger bonsai need larger branches lower down on the tree.

It's a good idea to establish your new branches at half the size of the ones they'll be replacing. Counting buds on a branch is an easy approach to do so. If you remove the main branch off the trunk after six buds, then ramified branches emerging from that main branch should be trimmed to have three buds. Trimming smaller branches above the second buds and so on once they emerge out of the three bud branches

Most deciduous trees take well to pruning when branches are left with buds on them. Pruning can be done anytime between May to July in Canada, but it really depends on the weather.

Another crucial hint is to let the branches grow three or four times as long as the pruned stem. Let's assume we're attempting to develop a branch with its third set of buds and want it to grow out to nine to twelve buds before trimming down to three.

The most essential advice, have fun, enjoy the process, and discover pleasure in every step of developing your bonsai. That is the whole idea.

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