How to Create a Quality Bonsai Tree

How to Create a Quality Bonsai Tree

You can create a quality bonsai in just two years from a garden centre plant. Setup a tree for success as bonsai using simple pruning techniques and decisions that work *with* the tree.

This is step 3 of the process. Soon we will start from step 1: material selection and first moves.

I’m not going to let those aesthetic principles drive the design of this tree you know i want it to look like a tree all right tiny tree tuesday let’s go this is a potential frucicosa i got it as a garden center plant the variety is pink lady so the first thing i’m going to do as you can see it’s very bushy and we’ve got quite a lot of branches coming from the apical region drooping down it’s making it very hard for me to see what’s going on so i’m going to come in and cut them back to living buds so you’ve got a leaf on the end on this piece it’s coming from the top of the tree there’s no buds all the way out here until we get to this little fine piece there i’m going to cut back to that bud now see if i’ve got any more opportunities to do that just that i can see what’s going on a bit easier see there’s another drooping branch here um there’s a living piece attached to it so i’m just going to cut i’m not going to look at the buds on this one because i’ve got a side branch that i can cut back to just get that out of the way i’m going to start the bottom branch and i’m going to look for opportunities to cut back in length we’ve got a very vertical piece just here on this first branch it’s going to knock that one out that’s going to make it easier for me to see what’s going on inside take that bit of back as well that’s again that’s making it easier for me to see what’s happening coming off this first branch we’ve got quite a strong secondary see if i can just isolate it for you we’ve got this strong secondary here coming off that straight branch and it’s coming off from quite close to the trunk and where this this primary piece is actually long taperless and straight i know that i can actually think about replacing that straight bit with this guy it’s it i can get a bit of movement into that it’s easily wired and in fact that this secondary itself has a tertiary piece which is even finer still so i can easily cut this thicker piece off now i don’t need it i’m coming with the branch cutters still coming from this first branch we’ve got a thicker piece heading straight up we’ve got this finer section nearby and we’ve got the other finer section that we just identified a minute ago so i know that i don’t really need this straight vertical piece either so yeah that doesn’t take much thought for me to cut that piece off now this branch is very long i definitely don’t need the length that it is and we’ve also got in the same area we’ve got this nice section here it’s positioned slightly better it’s got some nicer movement instead of just being quite straight at the start of that branch it’s quite straight here look so i’m going to also take that bit off and then i’m just going to look at the length that we’ve got and cut these pieces back a bit now in terms of the timing we’re well into the second flush probably a bit late in the second flush actually because the tree is so full of health and energy i can comfortably come in here and do this work without fear of harming the health and figure of the tree and this tree’s super pumped i’ve been fertilizing it quite well it’s even producing some aerial roots here and there believe it or not okay so i’m just taking the length of some of these branches that are still on this this first branch see if i can show you this bit better so the length of this although i’ve just trimmed it back it still feels a bit long on this piece we’ve got a very weak almost we’ve got a very weak leaf on the inside here we’ve got a stronger secondary just there a bit just there a bit further out there’s also another stronger secondary here i don’t want this i don’t want the length of this branch all the way out there so i am going to chop that piece off and that’s looking nice the interior leaves or buds on this particular piece are a little bit weaker so i’m going to leave and i’ll leave it a bit longer leave some of those stronger leaves that were out on the end here and it’s going to be quite hard to see but there’s there’s another sort of a primary structure here it’s a little bit weird it kind of it’s almost hook shaped and because we’ve got so much around it because of its awkward shape as well i don’t actually want that i’m not sure how well you’d be able to see it can you see that piece can you see that piece there i’m not sure how well it’s going to turn out on camera it goes sort of and hooks off there is some growth on attack there is some great attach to it but i don’t know it’s kind of weird and unnecessary there’s a lot going on in this area so i’m gonna just knock that one off okay so that’s that first branch looking a bit tidier i’m happy with that yeah this piece here is coming from the trunk i don’t know i don’t really feel like i need that there’s a lot going on at this level i’m just going to completely remove this one the next branch that i’m going to turn my attention to again it’s a little bit a little bit of a jungle in here but i’ll try and isolate it for you to see it’s this piece over here and this is another one that i’d like really to replace with some finer growth there’s a piece coming from the crotch just above it and there’s a piece around the back there’s a piece below it and there’s a piece above it this branch here is much more preferable i can wire that it’s you know it’s got a bit of nicer movement to it yeah i’m going to cut that thicker one off replace it with that finer growth so just come in with the branch cutters take that chunk out once the visibility into the tree’s a bit better i’ll talk a little bit about the bar branching we’ve got going on but at the moment it’s still a bit congested so having removed that thick piece and now i’m going to turn my attention to the secondary piece that’s coming off it that i want to keep it’s got we’ve got quite a lot of length on it if i just wiggle it you can see what’s what belongs to it quite a lot of length in there so i’m going to look for any threes any groups of three branches coming off it that i can reduce to that i can reduce down to two any crotch growth any any foliage or buds that are weak and on the inside that i just don’t need i’m just going to pull off just to allow me to see the structure a bit better and this branch does have some nice movement to it actually but it’s it’s very long see here we’ve got a crotch with two or three pieces it’s really hard to see because it’s full of foliage so all i’m going to do is just come in just carefully pull out some of these really small weak shaded out leaves just going to make it a little bit easier for me to see what’s happening in there i’ve got to be careful not to remove any buds that might be useful but until i remove some of these leaves i won’t know if they’re useful so it’s a necessary task to be able to see what’s going on there okay so let’s just take it back a bit lengthwise because that’s also going to help good and then we’ve got another secondary or tertiary i don’t know where we are now take the length of these back i want to leave three leafs so we’ve got plenty of buds i’ll do the same on this piece that just leaves this vertical section of it now and see if we can make some sense of this again it’s going to be super hard for me to show you what’s going on because it’s still so congested but we’ve got some really nice between my fingers we’ve got some really nice buds on that branch well i’m definitely going to make use of those i’ll cut back to there this branch is coming from a crotch nearby and it’s making it hard to see what’s going on so i’m just gonna just rudimentary do some rudimentary pruning just to remove some of the length on this one also so you can see inside i need to show you something and it’s quite hard to do that when this branch is also in the way so i’m going to go against my discipline a little bit just to make some room because i want to show you on the inside here just in there we’ve got a branch that’s coming from the crotch of this one and the one that’s next on it’s going vertical let’s get just going straight up if i wiggle it that’s it they’re wiggling it’s coming from that crotch down there i don’t want that at all it’s it’s very vertical it’s getting very strong and it’s just in a position right next to two other primary branches that means i just don’t need it that kind of crotch growth i can just eliminate yeah all that was coming from in a crotch not necessary okay so that’s really starting to open up the branching a little bit down there now okay we’ve still got some congestion we’ve still got some branches coming from armpits and crotches and whatnot okay here this branch this branch here is coming from where my scissors are and there’s again all at the same height we’ve got a multitude of branches around this one i just don’t need it it’s vertical it’s straight it doesn’t have any taper or quality to it there’s stuff around it i can use much more easily so it just makes no sense to keep it on the tree the longer i leave it the more chance of an unwanted shower i’ve got developing when i do come to remove it so i’ll just remove it right now and then next to it we’ve got actually got a completely dead branch there that’s one that i uh that’s one that i’ve cut back and replaced with crotch growth so i’m now just gonna snip that right back as close as i can go there i don’t need to keep it for dead wood it’s just straight tapeless i don’t need to keep it as you know a gin or whatnot or what have you and then this shoot here is actually a side shoot of that piece it budded right back in the crotch there i don’t even need this one it does mean that we’re probably going to get shari forming here in fact i can i can tell i can tell by the way the uh the tissue swelling here there’s going to be like a little shari there well it’s already happened so i might as well take this branch the side shoot that’s on this branch off as well and just allow that section to move forward there’s no point crying over spilt milk in fact it’ll probably add to the it’s probably going to add to the character of the trunk so you know it’s absolutely fine just take that stub out if i can without damaging any other branches nearby yeah that’s good just know one or two aphids on this so i’ll give this a treatment when it goes back outside oh i’d like to give a shout out to al and anti ropey for the recommendation of some uh some specialist shaheen branch cutters i haven’t got hold of a pair yet but they look promising i’m gonna make this work much easier so thanks so much the pair of you for recommending those i’m definitely gonna sort some out right i’m just going to deal with a couple of these stumps that i’ve left behind just you know make it look a bit neater okay that’s looking good that’s looking terrible but never mind okay right i’m gonna take a little bit stock now where have we got to cleaned out quite a lot of this lower branching identified you know some good candidates to keep remove some of those dead straighter pieces that i have no interest in ginning right so the next branch is going to be this one it’s coming from down here uh there are actually two pieces coming from the same shoulder we’ve got this thinner piece which is a bit lower and then this stronger upper piece here so the lower piece is a bit straighter but because it’s thinner it’s more easily shaped with wire the piece above it does actually have some quite nice movement but i think it’s probably a little bit on the long side and it does have some nice secondary bits here so the question is do i want to get rid of the thicker piece but the one that has movement doesn’t have much in the way of taper but it does have movement i mean neither neither of them have any taper so let’s just take taper off the table they both have ramification about the same distance from the trunk so the ramifications off the table it just comes down to is this too thick for the tree [Music] i don’t know that it is too thick to be honest with you i really quite like it i think it’s got something about it it’s definitely too long right so i’m going to cut back to these two pieces of ramification again i don’t need to use a gin it hasn’t got any real quality to it as a bit of dead wood so i’ll just lock the end of that bit off okay so now the question is do i want to keep this weaker piece you know there might be a time that i would keep this weak piece and that one but because again i’ve got other branches at the same all the same i said i don’t know do i agree with that yeah because i’ve got other branches all coming from the same height i am going to take this one off i don’t need it yeah potential don’t heal by the way they’ll thicken over some of these if i allow them to but you’re never gonna get callous formation on a potential or at least i don’t okay so that just leaves the length of these secondary pieces to look at i’m happy to leave these a little bit longer actually i’m gonna cut back the one that’s a bit lower i’ve left a bit longer and the one that’s not the one that’s a bit more vertical i’ll just cut back to two side shoots lovely this is making much more sense now [Music] so all of these lower branches i’ve now reconciled and you know i’ve pruned those lower branches made much more sense of those are the next the next area that we need to look at see if i can find a good angle for you to see it i think that’s a that’s about the best angle for you to see it as we follow the trunk as we follow the trunk up it divides into several thick strong pieces to make sense of that i’m going to have to look quite carefully at some of the side shoots that i’ve got clean out some of this papery bark that’s exfoliating so i can make out what this what’s connected to what just a little bit easier okay so i’m looking at this branch this branch here we’ve got some bits above i’ve also got a nice i’ve got this nice little branch down here this that’s below it we’ve also got a thicker piece behind that branch and the branch itself doesn’t have any close in my does it does have a nice little fine piece close in so i could cut it back do i want to do that don’t want to cut this back i’ve got a i’ve got a more prominent section above it so i suppose the question is do i want to keep this thicker section above this stick a bit here do i want to keep that or do i want to keep the piece below it now i like i really like the thickest the thicker piece that’s above it if i get this one out the way you’ll be able to see much better why the branch that i’ve chosen comes up here divided into two this one’s quite straight and boring but this one got a nice bit of movement to it it’s also got some nice taper coming on if you’ll ignore the stump there from where i’ve pruned it yeah i do actually prefer that branch so there’s a small little bit coming from the crotch that i’m not going to need another small little piece coming from the crotch there and then what i’m going to do on on the end of here we’ve got the branch with its ramification we’ve got quite quite a sizable stub that makes it look a little bit clunkier than it actually is so i’m just going to come in with the branch cutter here see if i can’t just very carefully make that look a little bit better clean out some of that old bark there that’s just flaking off this is where those clippers i mentioned would probably come in very handy there we go that looks nice the branch that we’ve left behind is all of this growth here we don’t need all of that look at that secondary back there cut the thicker end piece off there and then we’ve got this skyward guy i’m going to cut that one back pretty hard because it’s starting to run away we’ve got two pairs of leaves left on that strong upward facing branch now with this one there we go and then i think a bit of wire just to persuade that just a little bit further from the trunk and behind it we’ve got this stronger piece as well right because it’s got not got much taper i’m just to chop the end of that off but that’s that branch pretty much sorted maybe a bit of wire in a second and come and look at the other branches at this junction so over here we’ve got one two we’ve got three or four branches just on this side swallow more into myself around this area just take some of the dead stubs and whatnot that we’ve got out it’s a dead branch there but i don’t know it’s got a bit of movement to it might make a an interesting piece of dead with that maybe okay so this branch is pretty straight that’s pretty boring it’s really again you know it’s close to the trunk line it does have some interior buds that appear to be weak but active for the time being i’m going to cut this straight piece off back to an active third if the bud activates and grows maybe it can be useful but if it doesn’t meh haven’t lost anything there i don’t think now here we’ve got the bit that i’ve just cut we’ve got a stronger piece that’s straighter and got no ramification close in or we’ve got this weaker one that does have a bit of ramification but it’s you know it’s much thinner both of them can have a bit of wire put in i think a bit of movement put in with some wire so that’s you know the straightness isn’t too much of a concern on either of them so on this branch there’s there’s no ramification all the way out until here is that a problem though do i care about that i mean this finer piece does have more ramification do i want either of these branches some really interesting wood in there that might benefit from being visible we’ve got that thicker one there the final one just above it just under there right i don’t think i need either of these two but what i’m going to do i’m going to cut the oh do i do i do i do i no i’m i’m doing it i’m cutting them both off i’m cutting them both off because there’s branches above below i don’t need them and also because the i don’t need them and also the trunk that they’re coming from also has a bit of interesting detailing i think could benefit from uh being visible you know there’s some nice you can’t probably can’t see it very well but there’s some nice muscling and veiny twists in that section and once the bark’s cleaned off it might it’s gonna look quite nice and plus we’ve got like a bit of dead wood here we’ve got some interesting you know movement in these branches here all in this area now they weren’t necessary they weren’t necessary okay so follow them away out on this branch we come to this piece here that’s very long kind of twists the branches kind of twisting but it’s also very vertical i think yes we’ve got this we’ve got this piece here that’s coming from it’s coming from down there in that on the inside of this bend here and the piece that’s the piece that it’s wrapping around is actually slightly better quality i think it’s got a bit of movement to it and a bit of a bit bit nicer room for cake but the ramification on it’s a bit nicer as well take that piece out that piece was coming up here and it’s pretty straight and taperless whereas the piece that i’ve left behind is coming it goes up and then bends back down it’s got some nice ramification and details to it yeah much nicer piece i’m just going to chop that there’s like a stump here take that off creates a nicer transition to that piece there there’s some very fine pieces in the crotch here definitely don’t need those ones i’ll just pluck those ones out there we go now as interesting as the movement is in this branch here it is i think it’s getting way too long for the size of the tree that we’re working with so it’s not in proportion at that length so what i’m actually going to do is i’m going to cut that piece off you know it’s important to be objective about what’s useful and what isn’t you know there’s no point keeping something that’s got cool movement just because it’s got cool movement if it’s not in keeping with the scale and the design of the tree then you’ve got to cut it off another little crotch piece there that one can go away i think this piece can come somewhere over here eventually get some wire on it i’ll leave it a bit longer than i think it needs to be a little wispy bit there that’s coming from a piece of primary structure that i want to keep so i don’t need to use that to replace anything and i don’t need it because there’s a branch in its space anyway so yes okay good get rid get rid get rid that’s all the branches at that level now i just need to look at the trunk line and in fact up here we don’t have a lot to work with the tree the height of the tree i imagine is somewhere around here i’d like it to be we’ve got no buds on these apical pieces even close to the height we want so i don’t wanna i don’t wanna cut them i don’t know how to prune them because there’s no guarantee we’ll get buds and then if we get die back it’s going to be unpredictable so in this apricot region i’m simply going to come along and cut back to living green on each and every one on each branch just the lowest piece of greenery that i can find a bit on that one there’s a really really small fine piece on the inside of that one so i’ll just leave okay everything else except that okay so that is the pruning works done it seems brutal but the whole point of building the tree up like that getting really big bold and bushy is the root system is now fully filled out the pot the vascular tissue is loaded with energy and having done that pruning to remove the hormones at the tips where hopefully fingers crossed we’re hopefully going to get a profusion of buds particularly in this area down this trunk that we can use to replace some of this long leggy growth at the top so now that i’ve done my branch selection apex aside i can now think about building out some of these branches get some ramification going you know build out the pads and it might be over time that i cut one or more off i don’t keep all of them as the the tree and the design progresses but if you’ve uh anyone who’s got a little bit of experience in bonsai wood would it’s probably going to be pretty quick to point out that we’ve got some bar branching here we’ve got multiple branches all coming from the same height here and i’m leaving them behind the reason i’m leaving them behind first is because it’s going to allow me to build out the canopy because i’ve simply got more structures to build and secondly because potential have the capacity to die right back all the way through that vein to the roots and leave shari i would rather keep them if i can a third reason is that i could choose to make them into gins and to do that i might decide to put some nice movement into some of the secondary branches and get some taper going on and then gin them that’s going to give me a much more refined more mature looking gin than just having a straight boring stub pointing at the trunk but for me i quite like the crazy structure of this little tree you know i like the way some branches are all over the place there’s some pretty crazy movements some of the branches are up and some of them are down it to me it just looks like a really old little tree you know with the crazy branches that have been weather beaten and you know contorted and whatnot i quite like it and so you know bar branches be damned i think i think we spend far too much energy worrying about bar branching and inverse taper we don’t want to like i’m not saying let’s just forget about inverse taper and and the visual preference for the taper to be wider and then get narrower as we go up the tree i’m not saying let’s ignore it but at the same time i’m not going to let those aesthetic principles drive the design of this tree you know i want it to look like a tree i don’t want it to look like you know a random stump with one branch here one branch there for the longest time until one day it looks like a tree you know if i can fill these in pretty well within this growing season i’m going to enjoy this tree much more and if it gets to the stage where the bar branching becomes too bad or the inverse taper gets worse i can do something about it then you know i can i can remove a branch and i can create some dead wood but i’ll deal with the problem when it becomes a problem and at the moment it might not be to everyone’s taste you know it’s not this beautiful flowing portrayal of an elegant deciduous tree that you would expect in japan or from japan no sure it’s not and i’m okay with that you know if i wanted to create an elegant or very traditional or a very sort of japanese looking deciduous tree i wouldn’t have started with this material in the first place i would have chosen something that had more elegance you know i like this i like the crazy character of it i like the i like it i just love this little tree i’m like you know i’m happy with it i’m okay with it looking a bit rough i’m not thrilled with this section especially this thick piece coming from where there’s two thicker pieces i’m not thrilled with that but i can’t really do anything with it until i’ve got more back budding on here so that is something for the future there is also an argument to ginning this but again i don’t want to gin it now because it’s very coarse i’d rather refine it using growth and wiring and you know build it out a bit so that it looks like a more refined deadwood feature rather than just like a television area on top of a tree looks too obvious maybe that’s an option but it’s not there yet so cutting it back stimulate buds job done so i make the front somewhere in there so you can see it but let’s go for a 360. there’s also a front somewhere back here you could have a front off to the side there’s multiple potential fronts i’m not being uh i’m not i’m not being too hasty to pick a front i’m just building out the branches and letting the tree speak to me and having a conversation with it as ryan neil would say youtube i hope you and your trees are doing great please consider subscribing because i have a ton of good content on its way q a’s tutorials tree progressions and even giveaways so now is the time to subscribe i hope you consider it also these videos take a lot of time and effort to make if you can check out grow bonsai over on patreon the links down in the comments and in the description it does cost a little money but it has a lot of interesting benefits and it’s about to absolutely explode with value i’m super determined and dedicated to do my bit for the bonsai community by creating content that helps you the viewer but i simply cannot do it without your continued support so thank you so much for watching and i’ll see you on thursday

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