How to Prune a Bonsai Tree

Опубликовал Admin
7-10-2016, 06:25
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The Bonsai tree needs regular pruning to maintain its shape and to shape it to a desired style. There are two types of pruning: Maintenance pruning, which “maintains” the shape of the tree by encouraging the plant to grow more shoots and ensuring that the tree does not overgrow; as well as style pruning, which is aesthetic-enhancing in nature.


  1. Know the basics of tree growth. A tree tends to concentrate growth related activities near the tip so that the tree grows higher, as trees compete for sunlight in a forest. This is called Apical Dominance and helps the tree survive.  However, this results in disproportionate growth and lower branches being neglected, an undesirable side effect. To counter this regular pruning needs to be done.
  2. Remove weeds. You may occasionally have weed grow around your bonsai especially when you have just bought it from a nursery or is planted outdoors. Gently uproot the weed making sure that you do not accidentally damage the bonsai's root. Young plants are especially susceptible to root damage as their roots are tender.
  3. Decide your intended canopy size (how large you want your tree’s canopy to be). Then start pruning by cutting outgrown branches and/or shoots using twig shears or a normal cutter. Don’t be afraid to prune areas at the top, as this will force the tree to distribute growth evenly.
    • Shoots need to be pruned throughout the year to maintain shape. Cut old leaves and branches to force the tree to grow new ones.
    • Cover the bruises you make with cut paste to prevent excessive loss of sap.
    • Water the tree thoroughly after it has been pruned.
  4. Prune the crown. Occasionally the tree’s top branch will need to cut the crown of the tree which has overgrown and is preventing light from reaching the bottom branches. Gently thin out the crown by carefully cutting, removing small branches along with the shoots.
    • Mark out the pieces of branches you want to remove with a marker or a wire.
    • With a strong bonsai scissor or branch cutter, remove the identified branches and shoots.
    • Dead stubs from the last season can be removed by a pair of Knob cutters.
    • Make sure your cuts are along the flow of sap as this helps the tree recover quicker with fewer scars.
  5. Defoliate. The Bonsai plant needs to be defoliated so as to get rid of old long leaves and encourage the growth of smaller more aesthetically pleasing leaves. This is primarily done to deciduous trees just after a new flush has settled in. All the leaves are cut away at the base of each leaf. Make sure you leave the stalk alone. New smaller leaves will now grow in their place. This is a risky technique, as if defoliating is not done during the right time period the plant may never recover.
  6. Use Aesthetic enhancement. To give the plant a certain look, you must first have a firm idea of what you want. Bend thick branches or cut them out if they are too thick and don't affect the new look. If there are two similar branches together cut one of them and keep the other.
    • Remove branches which have unnatural twists and turns and look displeasing to the eye.
  7. Redesign the tree when you buy it. When you buy a tree from a nursery it has probably been allowed to grow naturally and only pruned to shape it for sale. In such a case you can cut back as far as the base of the tree (called creation pruning). Sometime later new buds will form on the stub, from which you can choose a new 'leader' stem and cut away the rest.
    • All cuts should be made horizontal.
    • When cutting branches make sure to leave a small stub, which can be removed after the tree stops bleeding. Unless it is a deciduous tree, whose stub can be immediately reduced with a knob cutter.


  • Do not prune too many shoots in one go. The plant may not be able to recover.
  • Always water and fertilize your plant after a pruning session.
  • Cut shoots with a delicate hand.
  • Always smooth the edges after every cut.


  • Do not continually handle your tree and also don't cut random bits from the tree. A tree will slowly die if it every new branch it grows is cut off.
  • Prune with care as a tree can be permanently damaged if the wrong branches are cut.
  • It is usually not a good idea to prune a Bonsai tree which has been neglected as it lacks the health to grow new shoots.

Things You'll Need

  • A Bonsai tree
  • Shears
  • Knob cutters
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