One of the most
important (yet often overlooked) aspect of this "hobby" (or for some
of us -a life calling) is
bonsai pruning .
Necessary not just for the aesthetic aspects of a bonsai plant, pruning is also used for
training, which can be done to create and maintain the tree’s shape.
This type of
pruning is performed on the larger branches. It
helps define the form. Remember, the goal is to make your Bonsai
appear old and natural. Therefore, branches that do not work toward
this goal would need to be removed. In the spring, which is the best
time to do your bonsai pruning, you will have more buds,
making it easier to perform the
pruning. Just be sure you never remove any large branches if the
temperatures still have a chance of dipping below zero.
Unfortunately, pruning does put the branch at risk for big,
unattractive wounds. For this reason, you should use a concave
cutter, which creates a hollow around the wound, which heals much
quicker and cleaner. Instead of becoming over eager at pruning, you
will typically prune lightly, just enough to help give definition to
the main branch structure.
Additionally, any branches that have green leaves or needles should
never have more than half removed. The reason is that the wounds on
this type of branch require much more of the tree’s energy. To help
your Bonsai heal quicker, you can buy a type of paste for the wound
that actually works to seal it.
With this type of bonsai pruning, the tree’s primary structure has already
been defined. Therefore, you will no longer remove any of the larger
branches. However, you will need to keep the smaller branches cut
back regularly, which helps maintain the shape of the tree. Unlike
form pruning that should only be done in the springtime, maintenance
pruning can be done throughout the year.
This is a different type of method for pruning your Bonsai. In this
case, only pine trees can be plucked while deciduous trees would
still need to be pruned. Additionally, with plucking, you can do
this anytime throughout the year.
In the summertime, there are some trees used for Bonsai that need to
be defoliated, which means removing a large portion or all of the
leaves to help the tree produce new ones. This is typically done for
a number of reasons. First, it will help stop certain branches from
growing and second, it will help the tree produce more branches as
well as leaves.
This particular method should only be done if your Bonsai is
healthy. Otherwise, part or all of it will die. While there is no
set schedule for defoliating your Bonsai, you want to remove the
leaves as soon as you see new buds appear. You can usually tell when
the tree needs to be defoliated in that one branch will developer
faster or slower than the rest on the tree.
Jin and Shari
These two methods help make the Bonsai appear older and is generally
used to enhance the tree’s natural appearance and character. The
word Jin means, “baring and bleaching a branch” and Shari means,
“baring and bleaching a part of the trunk.”
The process is where the tree’s bark is completely removed to help
give the tree a more rugged appearance and best done in the
summertime, which is the same for both Jin and Shari. Start by
choosing your branch, making sure it is as thick as a pencil or
larger. Then remove the bark with a flat knife, often referred to as
a “Jin knife.” Next, use a Jin Fluid, which will fasten the bleach
to the tree.
For the Shari portion of the method, you will remove the trunk’s
bark, which helps create a little drama. Starting at the ground
surface, you want the bare part of the trunk to become smaller, as
it moves higher up. Make sure too much bark is not removed at once
in that this could cause all or a part of the tree to die.
If you need to mark the area on the trunk where you want to remove
the bark, you can use a piece of white chalk. Then with a sharp,
flat knife, carefully begin pulling the bark off. Once this is
complete, you can take the concave cutter to hollow the trunk
slightly to give it the aged and natural look. Then, again use the
Jin Fluid to apply the bleach.