As the proud beginner stands before his newly blossoming bonsai tree, he becomes suddenly aware that he does not have a real bonsai tree just yet. The tree is too “bushy” and needs a trim. Bonsai tree trimming is a little like an artist standing at a blank canvas in the studio.
The tree trimming should be performed with a sharp pair of parrot beak cutters called a “wen”. These are the preferable tool as they create a small dimple in the trunk which will heal over more effectively than the flat cut left by a pair of regular scissors.
When working tree trimming, it is recommended that any foliage hanging down from the tree should be removed, as well as foliage that grows directly from the trunk. Foliage growing directly from the trunk of the tree is especially a point of focus for conifer trees.
Correct bonsai tree trimming does depend on the species of bonsai tree. Leaf trimming or “pinching back” with your fingers is generally required to be performed for most tree types.But conifers cannot be pinched at the tips as this causes damaged needles to go brown. Conifer tips should be plucked out.
Radical bonsai tree trimming should be performed on deciduous trees. Trim the leaves by cutting through the leaf stalk of every leaf of the tree. This tricks the tree into believing that it has survived a winter and is ready to produce another set of leaves. The new leaves will be smaller and are grown from finer branches. Over the years your bonsai will develop a more “ethereal” appearance.
New bonsai enthusiasts will discover that the bottom of their tree grows faster than the top creating an apical dominance. Unfortunately this is very common, but it can be partially controlled by pruning the top of the tree harder than the lower branches.
Wiring can also be used when completing tree trimming. A piece of aluminum or copper wire is first wrapped around the tree trunk, then carried out to a branch that needs shaping. But DO NOT wire an unhealthy tree.
Wiring, although important to the shaping of a tree is stressful to your bonsai. The wire is only left on for as long as it takes for the new shape to take and should not be left on beyond the necessary time frame. For young trees, this may be a few weeks, older trees may need up to a year.
When done, the wire should be removed by cutting it into small pieces and then discarded. Don’t attempt to unravel the wire, as parts of it may be already embedded into the actual tree.