The art of Bonsai is the ability to artificially modify an ordinary to tree to appear dwarf like or miniature. This can only be achieved by careful pruning of both roots and branches.
Although there are other key aspects like the type of soil used to grow a Bonsai tree, and watering techniques you need to be aware of, arguably non are more important than pruning.
However, before you even think about grabbing the shears from the shed you need to do a little bit of planning. It’s a good idea to get a pen and notepad before sketching out a design that you would be happy to use to help sculpt your Bonsai tree.
You need to get familiar with finger pruning which is a must have skill needed to shape your Bonsai tree. The basic process involves pinching new buds or growth off with your fingers to control the shape of your Bonsai tree. Although the concept is relatively simple, the ability to hold the branch of your Bonsai with one hand and gently roll, and twist any unwanted growth between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand should be practiced first before experimented on your Bonsai tree. Its important to remember when performing this not to pull on the branch or tree which could cause serious damage.
Its likely to be a while before you have enough confidence to perform this technique on your Bonsai tree. Its therefore a good idea to hone you skills on a small bush. Only when you are capable of making clean cuts should you think about implementing this on your Bonsai tree.
Often deciduous bonsai trees like Chinese Elms and Maples prefer pruning with sharp scissors With these types of Bonsai trees you can prune back to a bud closely matching your originally sketch. Any new growth will then take the direction of the bud you pruned back too.
When it comes to root pruning you need to trim about two thirds of the root ball every two years. Get in the habit of performing this ritual in tandem with any major branch pruning. Its important to remember that the roots are where your Bonsai tree provides nutrition and therefore should be in perfect balance with the rest of the tree.
Proper Bonsai pruning schedules are dependent on the type of species, but its advisable to look at a full-sized tree in its natural environment as a guideline. Some Bonsai trees are pruned at the beginning of the growing season and thereby will stunt growth, and others towards the end in order to leave less leaves during the dormant winter months.