Pruning bonsai trees is one of the most important things you will have to do as a bonsai enthusiast. Generally, you will be pruning two parts of your bonsai: the roots, which is the bottom part of the plant, and the foliage, which is the top part of the plant. Pruning your bonsais is one of the more interesting aspects of growing these interesting plants and is a way to let your creativity shine.
Root pruning is important because it allows the tree to grow new roots. Because of their small containers, the roots of bonsai trees are often stunted in growth. By pruning the root system of your bonsai regularly, you will ensure that the plant has the space needed to grow new roots, which in turn helps the plant absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil. As with any other plant, the root structure is critical to the growth and health of your bonsai.
On the other hand, pruning a bonsai tree’s foliage is also vital – if only for aesthetic purposes. If you are a bonsai owner, you probably have a specific design in mind for your tree. Pruning will help you achieve the results you desire. Pruning can help shape your tree into the form you want as well as removes any dead leaves to help keep it healthy and beautiful.
Also, don’t forget that the roots and the foliage of your bonsai tree are interconnected. When you reduce the foliage (or number of leaves) that your tree has, you are also reducing the strain on its roots. In other words, the less leaves there are, the less work the roots have to do to keep them alive.
The amount of pruning you will do will depend heavily on your plans for the tree. It is best for you to have a plan here before you begin. Remember that the changes that you make to your tree are permanent! If you cut a branch off, that branch is gone forever, and you will have to wait for a new one to take its place. Remember to prune your tree gently – if you are removing leaves pinch them off with your fingers and don’t use sharp or harsh tools.
Most people like to prune off branches that cross the trunk or each other. Why? Because it isn’t very pretty to look at. So unless you think you can rewire the branch and force it to grow in another direction, cut it off. Branches that stick out towards you are also common pruning targets. Of course, what you prune from your plant should be your personal decision. What is really important is that you find your bonsai tree beautiful; what others think of it is a secondary consideration. Trust your own good taste.
Remember: pruning your bonsai trees is supposed to be fun! Don’t get too worked up if your trees don’t turn out the way you want them at first. If you keep learning and practicing your botanical skills, the day will soon come when your bonsai will be the envy of your neighbors!