Bonsai: Tips for editing

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The art of bonsai (Japanese for "tree in the shell") has a millennia-old tradition. When it comes to care, it's all about cutting the bonsai properly. Real bonsai are drawn in laborious manual work over several years in bonsai nurseries and are therefore costly. Large garden bonsai can reach prices of several thousand euros! Fast bred and pressed in shape Baumarkt-Bonsai, however, are less robust and rarely reach the high age of a carefully maintained tree of 30, 50 or even 70 years. Whether you bring home a mini bonsai for the sill or plant an XXL bonsai in the front yard - to get that impressive shape, you'll have to cut your bonsai every year (several times).

Bonsai stands for balance

The bonsai represents the growth form of an old, weathered tree in a miniature version. In shaping, it depends greatly on the harmony of shell and trunk, trunk and branches, branches and leaves. Therefore, particularly small-leaved tree species and conifers are suitable for bonsai art. It is also important to strike a balance between crown size and planter. The crown can never be too big. The narrow shell promotes the stubby growth and the small leaves of the trees. A regular cut keeps the shell and bonsai trees in balance.


Basically, any plant that lumbers, as a bonsai shape. If the proportions are correct, the impression of a big tree is created - in miniature format

But a bonsai is always an artificial form of the tree. During shaping, the natural growth direction is intervened and a new line created by wire and cut. The natural growth of the young tree usually already indicates a direction, which is then further developed. Especially with deciduous trees can be created by a good cut without wire beautiful creations. Cut courageously - because only by radical pruning manages a classic bonsai creation. And: keep patience! A bonsai is not modeled in a few months. Depending on your growth rate and age, a real miniature tree needs a few years to decades of loving care.

Cut bonsai properly

cutting young bonsai

In young Bonsai trees you can drive through the shoots longer, so that thicker branches can develop

For the basic cut of a young bonsai, all branches that disturb the desired line are removed first. These include transversely and inwardly growing branches and all shoots that do not fit the later form. Pay particular attention to the orientation of the buds when cutting, as the branch grows in this direction. Alternately, for example, branches that are sitting alternately on the trunk or the wind-whipped form, in which all branches protrude in one direction, are harmonious. Beginners are the easiest to do with symmetrical shapes such as bullets.
The subsequent conservation cut ensures that the bonsai tree remains compact and does not grow out of its shell, but continues to increase in stem thickness. For deciduous trees, for example European beech (Fagus sylvatica), holly (Ilex aquifolium, Ilex crenata), pseudocolor (Nothofagus), maple (Acer) or Chinese elm (Ulmus parviflora), every spring the last year's shoots are halved to two or more three eyes cut back. In the course of the summer several smaller cutbacks of the new shoots follow, so that the tree takes on the desired shape over time.

a jaw formed into a bonsai

a bonsai-shaped yew (Taxus)

The pine (Pinus, left) actually has too long needles for a bonsai, but it can be shortened by cutting the mature shoots in July. In the slow-growing yew (Taxus, right), the new shoots are continuously pulled back during growth

In coniferous trees such as pine (Pinus nigra, Pinus sylvestris), yew (Taxus baccata) or stone discs (Podocarpus), only the outer coniferous tufts of selected side shoots are left in the basic cut and remove all other side shoots. The unwanted newly grown shoots are then broken out by hand each year. The long shoots of a larch are also tipped with tweezers or fingertips to avoid damaging needles and avoiding brown needle points.

sheet line

In large-leaved species can be reduced by a leaf incision or defoliation, the leaf size. In the case of leaf cutting, in early summer, all large leaves are cut in half, for a defoliation cut through the petioles. This type of cut stimulates the tree to form new and smaller leaves. Defoliation should only be used on healthy trees at intervals of several years. Only fertilize the bonsai when the new leaves have formed.

Bonsai cut: not only above but also below

Do you want to cut your bonsai properly, not only the branches are cut, but also the roots! As with a large tree, the crown size is in a certain proportion to the underground root network. The larger the root ball, the stronger the leaf shoot. Since bonsai should be as small as possible, they sit in extremely shallow bowls and have little root space available. Therefore, the root ball is trimmed all around with a sharp pair of scissors at each repot. You should cut thicker roots thicker, cut back thin roots about fingerbreit. By regularly cutting the root tips (Entfilzen), the branching of the fine roots is stimulated and the bonsai can ensure adequate nutrient supply despite little substrate.

Root incision bonsai

When repotting the bonsai, cut off the long-hanging roots with a sharp root scissors

Cutting tool for bonsai

For a small indoor bonsai, we recommend a sharp, sharp bonsai scissors. Their sharp edges allow even tricky cuts. With it you can smoothly remove even small shoots or thin twigs. For garden bonsais you need something coarser tool. A secateurs is sufficient for pruning smaller branches. For thicker specimens you should use concave pliers. It leaves semicircular cut surfaces that heal better than straight cuts. And a tip from the practice: Always cut large garden bonsai by hand, never with electric scissors!

Tools cut bonsai

The basic equipment of tools for bonsai cutting depends on the type and size of the tree

The right time

Deciduous bonsai are always cut out of their growing season. A larger shape cut occurs in native woody plants therefore in the spring before the first large budding. In August, the conservation cut follows at the latest, so that the tree remains in shape. But do not cut garden bonsai during high heat or in the midday sun to avoid burns! Wait for it better, until the sky is covered. Flowering bonsai such as the attractive Satsuki azaleas (Rhododendron indicum), however, are cut into shape only after flowering. The evergreen, small-leaved Zimmerfeige (Ficus) can always shape and cut, but here is a basic section in the spring is recommended.

Video Board: Olive Tree Bonsai.

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