Growing bonsai is an ancient art that consists in growing specimens of trees in miniaturized form. However, this guided constriction of size and shape does not affect the vital and metabolic activities of the plant, which remain absolutely functional. It is an art that requires the knowledge of many techniques, so much so that there are schools to spread this science correctly. The techniques in question concern germination, growth and maintenance. Among the tools of art, pruning plays a particularly important role. It represents an aspect of fundamental importance as it proves to be decisive both in the growth phase and in the maintenance phase. It is therefore necessary to face this operation with sufficient expertise. Bonsai is the product of a particular dedication as well as the expression of the artistic sense of those who cultivate it. The shapes of bonsai take on their morphology in response to the will and attention of those who prune them. Through it, in fact, its profile is guided and induced to manifest itself in a certain way.The pruning must first of all take place regularly and be performed carefully, without haste, at a time of day when you know you can be calm with your bonsai to enough time. As we have said, pruning is important both during growth and in subsequent periods. In the first case we speak of “training pruning”, in the second of “maintenance pruning”.

bonsai pruningThe training pruning is that which takes place during the growth of the plant and will make the bonsai assume its almost definitive shape. It therefore involves irreversible choices, and it is here that both the expertise accumulated through experience or during the attendance of courses and one’s own artistic sense emerge. In this phase it is necessary to choose which branches to remove and which to keep, and this choice will be definitive and decisive.

Generally the best times for training pruning are early spring and late autumn.It is important to know that the plants have the upper part that tends to develop much faster, making sure that the growth always points towards the light. it is called apical dominance. In setting up a bonsai, this is aesthetically counterproductive as it involves a noticeable upward development and the death of the lower branches. Pruning of formation, or setting, must also counter the apical dominance. You have to work with precision, placing the tree on the table at eye level. At this point we proceed with the removal of the dead wood and once this operation is completed, we observe the tree and decide which shape we want to give it. Based on this, some branches will be kept and others will be removed. To do this, there are basic techniques and advice to avoid damaging the plant and to ensure a satisfactory result.

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– If you notice that two branches branch off from the same height of the tree, and are therefore close to each other, it is advisable to eliminate one, whose presence would be useless for the design of the shape.

– Branches that grow vertically, and which are already too high to be folded over time, must be eliminated (unless you really want them like this). – You can prune those branches that follow very irregular or unnatural or not very harmonious curves. Also in this case, it is your taste and only that which determines the choice. – The bonsai should maintain a certain proportion of size, the lower branches must be kept thicker than the upper ones and this can only be achieved by eliminating the upper branches too. large – If a branch appears “out of place” or in any case seems to take away the harmony of the general shape, it can be pruned. These are some basic guidelines, which can help to obtain a beautiful bonsai, even if you are not an expert, a few rules but usually well functional.When pruning branches often there is the risk of producing ugly scars, for this reason it is recommended to use a special concave cutter, designed for this operation, in order to reduce the damage. If you start from a healthy tree you can prune up to 1/3 of the branches without causing problems. When pruning turns out to be an intervention of a certain extent, it is also good to balance the development of the root system, through pruning, in a proportional way. This serves to counteract an excessive growth of the plant, which would somehow remedy the imbalance between the quantity of leaves and the extension of the roots. In the case of large cuts, a special healing paste, easily available on the market, can be used, which serves to protect the lesions during healing so that the plant heals quickly.

bonsai pruningMaintenance pruning can be done at any time. Trees tend to grow more at the ends of the branches due to a genetic tendency to meet the light. These parts must be pruned regularly to encourage growth in the less exposed areas of the plant, which would otherwise be mortified.

As the definition itself says, this is a type of pruning that serves to maintain the designed shape over time. To do this, it is sufficient to remove all those parts that come out of the original setting: the buds that appear in unwanted positions, branches that have developed out of the shape of the bonsai. for this operation specific scissors or suitable cutters can be used. The frequency of maintenance pruning depends on the speed of the vegetative cycles of the plant. the interventions must be frequent in the case of plants that have a fast cycle, such as some types of broad-leaved trees, while they are much more rarefied in the case of slow-growing plants, such as in the case of conifers. shoots must be done with your hands, as using a wire cutter would cause brown spikes to form near the cuts. It is necessary to squeeze the shoot between the thumb and forefinger and pull (without violent jerks, but carefully). The shoot will break without complications. In the case of deciduous trees (which periodically lose their leaves), the technique called “defoliation” is applied: during the summer the leaves are removed to induce the tree to produce new leaves. A consequence of this application is the reduction in the size of the leaves, while increasing the branching activity.

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The art of pruning bonsai – Bonsai tips

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