PRUNING STRATEGIES & ROOTING CUTTINGS
How do you prune? When do you prune? Where do you prune?
These simple questions really need a long answer if you try to cover every possible situation. So I don't try to give an answer and just say: "It depends upon the situation!" Here are a few situations:
There are three basic situations: The large plant in back is in accelerated growth to thicken the trunks and branches. The three small bonsai are the results of recent workshops. The small bonsai is ready for reduction and refinement training.
|TREES IN ACCELERATED GROWTH
Every bonsai should have a training strategy based upon the desired result when it is "finished." Bonsai are never finished, and in our nursery situation, this means when the tree will be moved towards being offered for sale.
This tree is already about 10 years in training and will not likely be sold for another 5 years or so. A tree was trained with long roots and rock-planted root-over-rock into pot. It was allowed to grow vigorously to be able to strongly grasp the rock, the tree reduced and refined to select the branches and expose portions of the rock.
Trunks thicken with rampant growth. The left branch extends out about 3'. It will be allowed to grow another year or two before being reduced and the crown going into refinement training to one day be offered as a Custom Collection.
It's important to have a training strategy and not allow anyone to prune. Trees that are continuously pruned nice and neat will be pretty but have a weak scrawny appearance. Learn when not to prune!
|THREE YOUNG WORKSHOP TREES
The tree in the front left was potted within the past month and has not grown enough to prune. The right tree has 4 to 5 new leaves but is still not ready.
The center tree has one branch that has 7 -8 new leaves and that one branch can be pruned. The old leaves are removed, remaining leaves cut 50%, spaghnum moss wrapped around the base, and placed in a 2" nursery pot. One pot shows that one new left has developed and the other three 2" pots contain plants that rooted earlier.
For more information on rooting simple cuttings, go to LOREDANA'S PAGE.
Do not try to keep your trees "perfect" all the time. Allow branches to grow out 7-8 leaves, then prune back to 1-2 leaf position, resulting in a 5-6 leaf cutting. Root the cutting to one day have more trees!
|REDUCTION PRUNING OF OLDER
Some bonsai trainers try to do as much as possible in their first training session. They very seriously study the young tree and try to imagine it as an old mature bonsai and very seriously and carefully try to identify the major future branches. Once they decide, the prune off all other branches and end up with a very skimpy tree with pitifully sparse weak branches. If any of those selected branches don't survive, the tree will have a very limited future. We strongly recommend AGAINST this training strategy!
At Fuku-Bonsai, we leave as many useable branches on the bonsai stock and remove only branches that need to be removed. As the tree develops, weak branches are removed and even then, there are extra branches when the plant reaches the stage where it is shipped. This gives our customers the opportunity to select the branches to style the tree. Having too many branches is preferable to not having enough. I advise them to remove only branches that clearly conflict with the general design as additional branches can be removed later.
This tree has reached that "later" stage. As each branch developed secondary branches, the option will be to remove whole branches that contain sub-branches as well as extra growth points. Because the growth is very compact, the portions removed are "premium compact cuttings" and some already have much more character than the simple cuttings taken off young workshop plants.
The photos shows a plant in a 6" diameter pot before, then after reduction-pruning with the large number of cuttings removed. The cuttings were divided into two types: 1) Older larger cuttings with branching and character. And, 2) Younger, compact tip cuttings.
The third photo show older larger cuttings with branching and character along with three older cuttings that are rooted. The two in the 2" pots already have a lot of character. To obtain the amount of character of the 2" potted rooted cutting on the left which has a wood trunk 1/2" thick with taper and bends, it would take at least 2 years of very vigorous growth and several heavy reduction prunings if starting with a simple straight cutting from a young workshop plant!
The larger rooted cutting in the cut down 4" nursery pot has a two trunked cutting that is already 1" across with a lot of character! A few months ago while refining a much older bonsai, a large section was removed, trimmed to an attractive shape, then rooted. It's already an attractive bonsai that would have taken 5 years or more if it were started from a simple straight cutting from a young workshop plant! When cuttings have a lot of character, they quickly develop potential!
Two and three leaf compact tip growth will root and create small rooted cuttings with very compact growth as shown in the fourth photo. Note how compact the growth is compared to standard rooted cuttings from young bonsai workshop plants. These compact rooted cuttings can make superior miniature bonsai!
The fifth and last photo show an assortment of cuttings being rooted. Bonsai training should begin as early as possible while the plants are as small and young as possible. We grow prepared stock from both seedlings and cuttings and use a full range of techniques to create a full range of varied plants. But ALL HAVE GOOD CHARACTER WITHIN 1" OF THE SOIL LINE! START WITH ONLY HIGH QUALITY STOCK. TO GET HIGH QUALITY STOCK, START TRAINING VERY EARLY!
Go to Additional Techniques portal
Return to Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai #3; March
© Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai Inc., 2013