Bonsai

How do you prune a bonsai?


Question: How do you prune a bonsai?


I would like to understand the periods and the methods and how to keep this splendid type of vegetation alive! Thanks !

Answer: How do you prune a bonsai?


Dear Miki,
bonsai are trees and shrubs that are grown trying to miniaturize them, to get tiny sized plants, which maintain the majesty of the big trees of city parks; to do this, various very special cultivations are practiced, among which pruning is certainly one of the main ones.
It is clearly possible to bonsaize any plant, tree, shrub, climber, and even small perennials and some bulbous plants; for this reason it is not possible to indicate a single and unique method of pruning.
In general, in bonsai there are two main types of pruning: training pruning and maintenance pruning.
Through the training pruning we will form the crown of our plant in the form we have chosen, often aligned with particular bonsai styles (for example with an upside down broom, or litterato, or erect formal), these styles are codified and precise, and yes repeated over the centuries, perpetuated by the various bonsai schools. This type of pruning is necessary to ensure that a plant that is still young assumes the appearance of an ancient tree quickly: well-defined branches perpendicular to the ground, for example; or a bearing that reminds one of high mountain plants, beaten by strong winds on the ridges.
This type of pruning is generally quite vigorous, and with it you can also remove large parts of the foliage, especially if our bonsai is young and we must still form it almost completely; for this reason the training pruning is practiced during periods of vegetative rest, such as autumn, or the end of winter, depending on the plant we are growing. Clear that, the more the bonsai ages, the more its shape will by now be evident, and therefore the training pruning will become, with the passing of the years, less and less important.
The maintenance pruning instead is useful to support, during the year, the development of the ramifications according to the style we have chosen, or according to our tastes; this type of pruning is therefore always carried out, throughout the year, whenever our plant develops new branches of any kind.
The maintenance pruning is not very vigorous, and often consists simply of trimming the new branches, leaving them with only two or three leaves.
This type of pruning is also useful for maintaining small size foliage and for ensuring that the internodes between the leaves are short, and therefore the vegetation remains more compact.
The extent and frequency of maintenance prunings depend on the species of plant we are growing: if it is a climber we will have to prune it even every two or three days in spring; if it is a conifer it is likely that our interventions are sporadic.