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Bonsai plants are bred according to an ancient Chinese tradition that creates dwarf trees from normal trees. The trees can be brought into shape according to the ideas of their breeders. For this purpose, especially regular shape cuts are necessary, which are also called design cuts. These restrict the growth of the trees and in certain places regenerate to obtain a certain shape. We have put together in the following instructions, how to best handle the cutting and what you should pay particular attention.
For cutting there are specially made bonsai cutting tools to avoid bruises on the plants. A garden scissors may be sufficient for the first cut and perform well. For more regular shape cuts, it is essential to work with bonsai tools. Because most garden secateurs have blunt cutting edges that are close together. You can squeeze a thick or hard branch. This can lead to injuries and sometimes even to the loss of the branch. A bonsai is suitable for fine roots, leaves and branches, while a concave pliers for strong branches that sit mainly on the trunk, is used. This forceps leaves after the cut a small depression, which allows an inconspicuous and rapid growth of the incision wound. However, all wounds are always treated with a wound remedy, such as a Japanese wound putty.
In general, trees strive to suppress the growth of side shoots in favor of main shoots that sit at the outside tips of the branches. With this natural mechanism the shading of the tree is prevented by other trees. He is also responsible for the natural height growth. As the growth drive shifts to the tops of the trees, the lower and inner branches die over time and the upper branches develop disproportionately. This growth process is of course undesirable in bonsai cultivation! Pruning the tips of a bonsai plant slows down this process, allowing better growth on the lower and inner buds.
Best cutting time
Before or after the growing season is the best time to shape your bonsai plants. This shape cut is usually made at regular intervals of two years.
Before you start cutting, you should always have a specific target and know how your bonsai should look after the cut. You should follow this goal with every shape cut. Depending on your goal, corrections may be made to different parts of the bonsai. Depending on the cut foliage, on the branches or on the trunk cutting measures are carried out. The roots are cut only when repotting. For example, if you want to grow a tree sprout from your garden to bonsai, then you need to give it a basic shape and also remove large branches. Which branch you take away and which you keep is, of course, left to your imagination. But they already determine the appearance of the tree as a finished bonsai.
Tip: Always set the tree at eye level for cutting and first remove withered branches and other dead plant parts. Take a close look at your bonsai for some time and then follow your cutting target for the selected shape cut associated with the tree.
Ground rules for branches that are always removed
- vertically growing branches that can not be bent anymore because they are already too strong
- with two branches, which rise at the same height at the trunk, always one remove
- Branches crossing on the front of the trunk
- Branches with unnatural curves and twists that can not be bent otherwise
- disproportionately thick branches that are near the top of the tree
Rough division of the shape cuts
The shape cuts for conifers and deciduous trees differ in many factors, if only because of their different leaf and bud structure. Bonsai forms or styles themselves there are very many, depending on the taste of the breeder, such as the cascade or the double stem form. However, this also requires some understanding of the basic shape cuts for coniferous and deciduous trees.
Shape cut for conifers
In May and April
As soon as new candle-shaped shoots grow out of the buds, cutting begins. Only the strongest shoot is removed in the middle so that the side candles can continue to grow. They should be in balance with the other, weaker impulses.
Tip: The weaker the shoot is, the less it will be shortened. Shoots up to 1 cm in length must stop.If the instinct is strong, then more is taken away from it. If shoots are too narrow, they will be squeezed out to one or two. If you like, you can use fingertips instead of scissors. The shoots are easy to turn off.
end of June
To keep the needles short, all shoots that have grown too long are cut back to 1 cm. The rest of the piece is usually formed after a year again new buds with shorter needles.
August and September
During this period, the needles from the previous year turn brown. You can easily wipe these needles with your fingers. If you can not do this, use the bonsai and cut the needles back to the roots. Now more light can come in, so that so-called sleeping eyes are stimulated to drive away. But if the buds are much too small and weak, it is better to leave the old needles on the plant. Even freshly driven out in the spring needles are completely left, usually four to five coniferous tufts.
September to March
During this time, the too dense areas are illuminated. The buds, which are not needed for the construction of the mold, are simply tipped off by mid-November using tweezers. The buds that seem interesting to you, and that you believe are useful for the desired form goal, will stop.
Shape cut for deciduous trees
The budding of branches is very different among deciduous trees and therefore divided into two basic main groups:
For example, gum, hornbeam, hawthorn, and hornbeam have this type of bud. These bonsai trees are allowed to grow properly in spring and are cut back to one or two leaves once they have formed five to six leaves. At bonsai, which are still in the phase of branch building, however, three leaves remain.
Tip: For a more beautiful shape of deciduous bonsai, cut on a bud that points downwards.
Opposite buds have, for example, privet, lilac and chestnut. These bonsai trees may also sprout well in the spring and are cut back to one to three leaves. A bud may always be in the wrong direction, since it is two buds exactly opposite at the same height. If necessary, simply remove an unwanted bud.
General cutting methods for bonsai
- cut strong shoots diagonally over a bud (with bonsai shears)
- cut weak shoots at right angles to the direction of growth over a bud (with bonsai)
- Branches on the trunk, which should be removed completely, cut off directly at the trunk (with Konkavzange)
The shape cut for bonsai seems very heavy at first. However, with each cut you will always be more comfortable shaping your bonsai. Once the bonsai has reached its final shape, you must pluck the shoots already when you open the buds so that it remains in shape. Isolated, over-grown leaves and too long internodes can also be easily cut away during the growing season. To find your own style, you can be keen to experiment, provided that you observe the basic rules of bonsai cutting listed above.