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Pruning A Bonsai Tree For Beginner | A Comprehensive Guide

Pruning A Bonsai Tree For Beginner | A Comprehensive Guide

The art of bonsai can be very difficult to master. Pruning a bonsai tree is one of the most important tasks that must be completed on a regular basis, but it’s also one of the most difficult for beginners. It takes time and patience to do this correctly, but if you’re willing to put in the effort then it will certainly pay off! This article, Pruning A Bonsai Tree For Beginners, will teach you how to prune your very first bonsai tree with confidence!

Pruning A Bonsai Tree For Beginner

Pruning in a nutshell is the process of removing dead or excess branches from a tree. It is often used to maintain the health and shape of a tree. For beginners, pruning a bonsai tree may seem daunting, but with a little knowledge and practice, it can be easy and rewarding.

The first step in pruning a bonsai tree is to identify the target branch. The target branch is the one you want to remove. It is important to make sure that you are only pruning healthy branches, as cutting off diseased or damaged branches can actually make the problem worse.

Once you have identified the target branch, use sharp scissors or clippers to cut it off at the base. Be careful not to damage the trunk or other branches as you cut.

After removing the target branch, make your cuts to the rest of the tree until you achieve the desired shape and size for your bonsai. You can prune as much or as little as you like. If you remove too much from a branch, simply let it grow back naturally.

Another option is to prune one side of a branch to encourage growth at a different angle than before, or perhaps change direction entirely so that the new branches will grow in a different pattern which creates a better visual appeal to your bonsai.

It is important not to over-prune, especially during the first two years because this could damage or even kill your tree if done too suddenly or with too much severity. As a general rule, you should only prune 1/3 of the foliage at any one time.

Pruning your bonsai tree is a great way to keep it healthy and looking its best. With a little knowledge and practice, anyone can do it!

Type Of Pruning

There are basically five different prunings used in bonsai namely pinching, plucking, trimming / thinning, defoliation and wiring. How each prune must be made will depend on individual needs of the plant growth cycle which starts from bud break through growth stages until it reaches maturity.

  • Pinching – This is the most useful pruning in bonsai development. Pinching will encourage back budding which will result in thicker stems and branches. You can also use this type of pruning to slow down plant growth or stop it for a certain period of time during the development process.
  • Plucking – Small clusters of leaves are pinched off to expose bare branches that are strong enough to support future wiring without splitting or snapping, which will cause injury to your bonsai tree. Since plucking mainly targets large clusters of leaves, you should not expect any significant changes in overall leaf size when using this method.
  • Trimming / Thinning – Removing only part of the foliage from your bonsai’s branches can be done through thinning. By doing this you will be able to direct the growth of your tree and achieve the desired shape. This is also a good way to control the size of your bonsai’s leaves.
  • Defoliation – This type of pruning should only be used as a last resort as it can severely weaken your bonsai tree. Defoliating your tree will remove all its leaves which in turn will shock the plant into producing new shoots and branches. You can use this method to create smaller leaves or thicker branches but make sure that you are fully familiar with the process before attempting it.
  • Wiring – The main purpose of wiring is to help you shape your bonsai tree into the desired style. By using wire, you can gently bend branches into the appropriate position and allow them to grow into that shape. However, wiring should not be done until the tree has developed strong branches that do not split or snap easily when bent using this method.

When To Prune

Next thing you need to consider is at what time of the year you should prune your bonsai tree. How much can you prune during each dormancy cycle? You will want to cut out any damaged or diseased parts of your plant as soon as possible to avoid spreading disease further within the foliage. Clean cuts are also important for preventing infection from getting inside the wounds of your bonsai’s bark after pruning.

  • Spring Pruning – Remove any crossing or rubbing branches before new shoots appear in spring. Thin out the new shoots to desired size and shape.
  • Summer Pruning – Pinch off any new growth that is not necessary for the development of the tree. Trim off any excess branches to maintain a smaller leaf size.
  • Fall Pruning – Cut back all the branches by about 1/3 to encourage thicker branch growth for next year. Remove any dead or damaged branches at this time.
  • Winter Pruning – This is the time to wire your bonsai into the desired shape. Make sure that all cuts are clean and dry before applying any wiring as this will help prevent infection from setting in.

Pruning a bonsai tree can be a daunting task, but if you understand the basics of how and when to do it, then you’re well on your way to creating a beautiful and healthy tree. Just remember to be patient and take your time with each cut, as it can make all the difference in the overall health and look of your bonsai.

Things to know before Pruning a Bonsai

There are a few things one should know before pruning a bonsai.

  • First, it is important to understand the growth habits of the tree. Some trees grow in a radial pattern, meaning that new branches grow out from the center of the tree. Other trees grow in an ascending or descending pattern. It is important to observe how your bonsai grows and prune accordingly.
  • Second, know what type of Pruning you will be doing. There are three types: corrective, maintenance, and styling. Corrective pruning is used to correct improper growth or shape. Maintenance pruning is done to keep the tree healthy and in good condition. Styling pruning is used to improve the appearance of the tree.
  • Third, always use sharp bonsai tools. This is to prevent damage to the tree, which can cause infections or slow healing time, and it will also help with clean cuts.

It is very important to understand how your Bonsai grows before pruning. If you incorrectly prune a bonsai it may not recover properly and can even die.

Corrective Pruning

There are two types of corrective pruning: branch removal and shoot thinning.

  • Branch Removal – When removing branches always leave a cut that is at least one bud long. You should also make sure that the angle of the cut follows an outward direction on the branch collar (the area where the branch meets the trunk). This allows for proper healing as well as allowing the tree to seal off the damaged area.
  • Shoot Thinning – Also known as needle thinning, this type of pruning is used mostly on pines to remove small branches or needles that are growing in an undesirable way. As with branch removal care should be taken not to leave a stub (the shortened branch) when removing the branch.
Pruning A Bonsai Tree For Beginner | A Comprehensive Guide

Styling Pruning

To style your Bonsai you must first determine what sort of style would look best on it. Once you have decided upon a style then select where exactly each branching point will go and how much you want to cut back for taper, if any at all. Then after making your cuts ensure that all wounds are cleaned out properly(using tools made specifically for this) to prevent infection.

Maintenance Pruning

Regular maintenance pruning should be done throughout the year, especially during the growing season. This will help keep your tree healthy and looking good.

There are three main things to look for when doing maintenance pruning: dead wood, crossing branches, and overgrown growth.

  • DeadWood – Deadwood can be removed at any time of the year but is preferably removed during the dormant season. Be sure to leave a cut that is at least one bud long so that proper healing can take place. To help with the healing process it is important to apply some sort of wound dressing, which can be found at your local nursery.
  • Crossing Branches – This type of pruning is done during or after flowering and requires that you cut one side off so that the remaining branches will grow away from each other and not interfere with each other’s growth. Be careful not to leave a stub when cutting this way as it will take much longer for the branch to heal over than if you had left a cut that was at least one bud long.
  • Overgrown Growth – Remove competing foliage by either pinching or cutting back annually. Pinching encourages branching; Cutting back rids the tree of unwanted foliage altogether. It is best to prune after flowering for most trees.

Types of Cuts

In bonsai pruning, there are four types of cuts that you have to understand. They are the slant cut, the straight cut, the concave cut and the notch cut.

  • Slant Cut: The slant cut is used for removing large sections of a branch instead of smaller pieces. To make this type of cut, use your hand saw and place it on an angle while cutting down towards the trunk until you reach the desired point.
  • Straight Cut: This type of cut is used for making a clean break when removing a branch or section from a tree. To do this properly, use your sharp pruning shears and make sure to include a new bud at least one inch below where you want to make your close off the cut.
  • Concave Cut: The concave cut is used to reduce the size of a branch and to encourage new growth. This type of cut should be made at an angle, starting at the base of the branch and tapering off as you reach the top.
  • Notch Cut: The notch cut is used when removing a small branch from a tree. Make a V-shaped cut at the base of the branch, then use your pruning shears to remove it by cutting above the V-shape that you just created.
Pruning A Bonsai Tree For Beginner | A Comprehensive Guide

Checking for dead or damaged branches

Now that you understand how to make different types of cuts, it is important to know how to maintain healthy branches. To do this, you need to regularly inspect your bonsai tree for any dead or damaged branches. Keep in mind that dead branches are brown and damaged branches will be black due to a lack of chlorophyll.

Once you have located a dead or damaged branch, use your pruning shears to make the appropriate cut as described previously. Make sure that your cuts are clean by removing any jagged edges after cutting the branch from the tree.

Inspecting for disease is another important aspect of proper bonsai maintenance. You should regularly check for signs of disfiguring diseases such as:

  • Botryosphaeria canker – This form of disease is characterized by small black dots and spots on the trunk, branches and leaves. It often spreads from branch to branch before infecting the entire tree.
  • Phomopsis twig blight – This type of disease commonly affects conifers and evergreen trees like cedars and junipers. The most visible symptom is yellowing leaves that eventually fall off.
  • Ganoderma root rot – Ganoderma root rot is a serious disease that affects the roots of bonsai trees. It can quickly kill a tree if left untreated. The most common symptom is wilting leaves, but you may also see lesions on the bark or mushrooms growing around the base of the tree.
  • Cylindrocladium canker – Cylindrocladium canker is a fungus that affects the leaves and branches of bonsai trees. The most common symptom is a yellowish-green mold that often appears on the underside of leaves.

If you notice any of these signs of disease, take your bonsai tree to your local bonsai garden center for diagnosis and treatment. It is important to treat the disease as soon as you have identified it in order to prevent further damage.

Shaping a Bonsai

Shaping a Bonsai tree is a fun and creative way to show off your gardening skills. There are a few basic principles to follow when pruning a Bonsai tree, but with a little practice you will be able to create any shape you desire.

The first step in pruning a Bonsai tree is to decide what shape you want the tree to take. There are many different shapes to choose from, and you can find inspiration from nature or other Bonsai trees. Once you have decided on a shape, draw it onto the tree with pencil so that you have a guide for trimming.

Next, use sharp scissors or clippers to cut away the branches and foliage that does not belong in the desired shape. Make sure to cut away the branch completely, so that it will not grow back. Take your time and be careful when trimming, as incorrect cuts can damage the tree.

Continue pruning the tree until you have achieved the desired shape. You may need to prune it several times to get it just right. Be patient and take your time – it is worth it to have a beautiful Bonsai tree that you are proud of.

Challenges in shaping a bonsai

One of the main challenges in shaping a bonsai is deciding

  • What type of tree to use. There are many different types of trees that can be used for bonsai, so it is important to select one that will fit your style and environment. Some plants are difficult to shape. For example, bonsai enthusiasts often use junipers and elms because they are easy to shape.
  • Determining the size of the tree. Bonsai trees can be small or large, so it is important to select the right size for your space. Pruning is also important to keep the tree in its desired shape. It is important to make sure that all of the branches are symmetrical and that the tree has a balanced look.
  • Training the tree’s roots. Bonsai trees have a unique root system that must be trained in order to keep the tree healthy. The roots must be trimmed and shaped in order to keep the tree small. In addition, the soil must be kept moist at all times or the tree will die.
  • Uprooting a bonsai. One of the biggest challenges in keeping a bonsai is preventing it from being uprooted. The roots must be carefully trimmed trained in order to keep the tree small
Pruning A Bonsai Tree For Beginner | A Comprehensive Guide

Some Problems in Pruning Branches

  • Low Hanging Branches – Sometimes, low hanging branches need to be pruned in order to keep the tree looking balanced. However, it is important not to remove too many branches, as this will weaken the tree.
  • Crossing Branches – Crossed branches should be pruned in order to keep the tree looking neat and tidy.
  • Dead Branches – Dead branches should be removed in order to keep the tree healthy.
  • Sucking Branches – Sucking branches should be trimmed back so that they do not steal nutrients from the other branches.
  • Up or Inbound Branches – Inbound branches should be pruned in order to maintain the desired shape.
  • Oversized Branches – Oversized branches should be reduced in size so that they are more proportional with the rest of the tree.
  • Soot and Scars – Soot and scars should be pruned to keep the tree looking fresh and healthy.
  • Ensuring that the size of the base of bonsai is proportional to their height. Size matters when it comes to bonsai trees, so it is important to ensure that the size of the base properly matches its height. Improperly trimmed bases can make a tree look unbalanced and awkward.
  • Removing any unwanted leaves. Leaves should be removed in order to keep the tree looking neat and tidy. In addition, leaves can block sunlight from reaching the other branches, which can stunt the growth of the tree.

Bonsai Tree Pruning Tips

  • Use a pair of sharp, sterilized secateurs for all your bonsai-tree pruning and trimming tasks.    
  • Sterilize your cutting equipment before each use by dipping it in some household bleach diluted with twice its volume of water (a 10% solution).    
  • Never use pruning tools if their blades or handles are rusty or damaged.    
  • Always wear gardening gloves when pruning and handling your bonsai.    
  • When wiring, try to use as little wire as possible; it’s counterproductive and annoying – both for you and those who view your bonsai.    
  • For most small branch-pruning tasks, clean the blades of your shears frequently during use with a file or sharpening stone; this helps to keep them sharp and minimizes jagged edges on the cuts.    
  • When removing large branches (up to an inch in diameter), always make diagonal cuts at either side of the branch collar, not flush with its trunk.    
  • Always try to remove a branch from above the cut, not below it. This will help to avoid leaving an ugly stub or gouge in the trunk.

What type of shears do I use in Pruning leaves?

It is best to prune the leaves during the early springtime. It’s best to prune just before or after a period of new growth. You can tell that it is time for leaf pruning because you will see the buds swelling and beginning to grow from each of your bonsai plant branches.

When you’re pruning new growth, it’s best to grab the branch with one hand and then run the shears with the other. If you are having a difficult time grabbing hold of your bonsai tree limb, try using a pair of cuticle scissors which may be easier to maneuver on smaller limbs. Also make sure that you snip off any small twigs on the branch as well.

It is important to use the right type of shears when pruning your bonsai leaves. There are many different types of shears on the market, but for leaf pruning, it is best to use a pair of sharp scissors or bypass shears.

When choosing a pair of scissors, make sure that they have a sharp cutting edge and are also comfortable to hold. bypass shears have a curved blade which makes it easy to cut around objects. They are also great for larger branches.

Whatever type of shears you choose, make sure that they are always clean and sharp. Dull blades can cause injury to your plants and can also make the job more difficult.

To properly prune the leaves of your bonsai tree, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure that you are pruning the leaves at the correct time of year – just before or after a period of new growth.
  2. Gather your shears and make your way to the branch that you want to prune.
  3. Grasp the branch with one hand and then run the shears with the other.
  4. Cut off any small twigs on the branch as well.
  5. Snip off any leaves that are not symmetrical or are damaged.
  6. Make sure that your shears are always clean and sharp. Dull blades can cause injury to your plants and can also make the job more difficult.
  7. Repeat these steps for every branch on your bonsai tree.

Leaf pruning is an important part of maintaining your bonsai tree. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your plants are healthy and looking their best.

Pruning the trunk of a Bonsai

Pruning the trunk of a Bonsai tree can be a scary task for first timers. Although it may seem like you are removing the life of the tree, rest assured that Bonsai trees are only pruned to shape them into what they “should” look like if left to grow in their natural habitat.

The main purpose of pruning is to remove any unwanted growths or branches. You are always better off taking too little material rather than too much because you have more room for error when you take less. With experience, your technique will improve and you’ll start taking out bigger chunks at a time until, one day, without even realizing it, your tree will have reached the ultimate image in your mind’s eye.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Trunk Pruning

The first step is to find the central leader of your tree. This is the single straightest branch that comes out of the trunk and points upwards. Once you’ve identified the central leader, remove all other branches that grow off it. This will help to establish a strong trunk.

After you’ve removed the side branches, take a look at the remaining trunk. You may need to remove some more material in order to create a nice clean line. If there are any major bumps or curves, use your shears to even them out. Remember: less is more! You can always go back and take more off later if needed, but it’s much harder to add material than it is to take it away.

Pruning Roots

When you prune a bonsai tree, you are removing some of the roots. This is necessary to keep the tree small and in proportion to the pot. You should never remove more than a third of the roots at any one time. If you remove too many roots, the tree may not be able to survive.

When you prune a bonsai tree, it is important to use sharp scissors or clippers. Cut the roots cleanly and avoid crushing them. Be careful not to damage the trunk or branches while you are pruning the roots.

When you prune a bonsai tree roots, be sure to keep these things in mind:

  1. Cut the roots cleanly and avoid crushing them.
  2. Be careful not to damage the trunk or branches while you are pruning the roots.
  3. Remove no more than a third of the roots at any one time.
  4. Consult an expert before starting to prune your trees. They can show you how and where to cut the roots for the best results.
Pruning A Bonsai Tree For Beginner | A Comprehensive Guide

Common Mistakes in Pruning

  • Not pruning a tree when it requires it.
  • Using blunt or sharp tools – using sharp tools is important.
  • Cutting roots instead of branches on accident – always double check what you are cutting.
  • Cutting too much at once – do not remove more than 1/3 of the trees root system in one go.
  • Failure to clean up cut branch stumps – if you leave them, they can grow new roots and try to become trunks, ruining your bonsai design.
  • Not practicing good technique. Pruning without an expert nearby or consulting with one beforehand can lead to wounds that kill trees or poor techniques that create monstrous-looking bonsai!


Q:  What is the correct way to prune a Bonsai tree?

A: There are several different techniques and tools that can be used, but using sharp clippers or shears will always yield better results than using dull ones.

Q: How often should I prune my bonsai tree?

A: The best time to prune a bonsai tree is in the spring. Any growth that has popped out over winter can be taken off then, while it’s still soft and malleable.

Q: How much should I prune my Bonsai tree at once?

A: Never remove more than one-third of the trees root system or more than a third of the branches in any one pruning session.

Q: What is the best way to cut bonsai tree roots?

A: Cut the roots cleanly and avoid crushing them by using sharp scissors or clippers. Be careful not to damage the trunk or branches while you are pruning the roots.

Q: What methods can I use to prevent my plants from overgrowing?

A: If your tree starts to look like it’s growing too fast, you can always use wiring or pruning techniques to slow its growth.

Q: What if my bonsai didn’t grow a new bud?

A: If your tree stopped growing in the middle of summer, it’s likely that you cut all its buds off. This is called renewal pruning and will help reduce the size of your bonsai to keep it small and within proportion for its pot.

In Conclusion…

One thing that you should learn from pruning a bonsai tree for beginners is that it takes time and patience to create a good shape for your plant. You have to be careful in creating uniformity so as not to damage any branches during the process.

And, if you don’t know what particular type of cut is required for a certain part of your bonsai’s canopy, better read up on some online resources or books before engaging in any activity!