Bonsai Pruning
How to Trim Bonsai Tree Roots

Bonsai pruning techniques, page 1 of 2. Overview of bonsai trimming. How to maintain your bonsai plant's roots. When is the best time to trim the root system? Bonsai tree root pruning aftercare.

Keibun Tanaka Pruning One of His 5,000 Bonsai Trees in Garden of His Home in Suburb of Tokyo

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The bonsai pruning techniques you use (along with wiring) will determine the future shape of your bonsai trees. It is bonsai tree pruning that maintains the correct balance between the tree's branches and leaves.

Pruning a bonsai tree is what gives it its unique beauty. No two people will prune a bonsai tree in the exact same way.

How to Prune Bonsai:

Place the tree on a surface high enough to bring it level with your eye. You don't want to be looking down at it but rather directly into it.

This is the intuitive part. Try to see the beautiful bonsai that is already there. It just needs you to expose it with the bonsai scissors. By taking this approach, you are working with the tree instead of against it.

This is the time to decide which side of the tree will be viewed from the front. And take notice of any features you'd like to highlight while pruning this bonsai tree.

Look at pictures of life-sized specimens of your variety of tree to get ideas for how you might like to train it.

Trimming Bonsai Tree Roots

Keibun Tanaka Pruning a Bonsai Tree in the "Tray Garden" in Front of His Home in Suburb of Tokyo

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Because bonsai pots are so shallow, it will be necessary to trim bonsai roots periodically. Gently lift the bonsai tree from the pot so you can see the root mass. If the bonsai tree soil is riddled with roots and they have begun to circle around the bottom, it’s time to cut them back.

Bonsai tree root pruning should be done in the spring before the tree begins a new season of active growth.

You will need:

  • Bonsai wire and wire clips
  • Bonsai scissors
  • A small quantity of good bonsai soil
  • A small bonsai brush
  • Chopsticks or a root rake like the one shown.

Professional Single Point Root Rake

How to Prune Bonsai Tree Roots

Ficus Root Over Rock Bonsai Tree (ficus orientalis)

Use the chopstick or root rake to gently “comb” the roots loose from the root ball and remove some of the old soil.

Next, use the bonsai scissors to trim away one third to one half of the total root mass. Thread some wire through the drainage holes in the bonsai tree pot.

Now, set the bonsai tree back into the tray or pot it was in before. Use the wire to secure it. Add fresh bonsai soil using the chopsticks to poke it down into the spaces between the roots. If any roots refuse to lie flat, push them down with a wire clip.

Tamp the bonsai tree pot firmly on the work surface to settle the soil and eliminate any air pockets. Use the brush to grade the soil so that it slopes gently away from the bonsai tree’s trunk just as you would if you had planted a tree outside in the ground.

Bonsai Pruning Aftercare

Water the tree carefully so as not to wash any of the soil away. The best way is to set the bonsai tray into a pan of warm water up to half its depth and let it soak the water up from the bottom.

It is best not to give a bonsai tree food or too much water for a month after trimming its roots. Freshly trimmed bonsai roots cannot absorb fertilizer or water very well.

Continue to page 2 for leaf and branch trimming instructions.

Other Pages You May Like:

How to Water a Bonsai Plant

Bonsai Training Guide

What to Feed Your Bonsai

Flowering Bougainvillea Bonsai

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