Styling a Mixed Forest Bonsai Pruning Guide
it rained last night and boy – did it rain. It came down really really hard and i was very worried about all that moss and muck. I had put around the roots on my root over rock cedar trees. Anyway, so here’s my mixed forest Bonsai pruning guide.
I had visions of it. All washing away and the tree tipping over in the wind on the rock – and so i came out this morning and all was fine here’s, a look at the planting, so yeah, the moss and the soil stayed on the roots.
Just fine and it rained like torrential rain so that’s good. That means it can survive the worst of the rainstorms. My little cedar spirit tree also did well in the pouring rain and, as you can see, the moss is really greening upon it, and this moss looked quite pathetic.
When i planted it, it just barely had a tinge of green in it, so it’s. Looking really good, i’ve, been thinking a lot about the new pot for my sarissa, and i’ve been thinking about the size and the shape of it, and everything like that.
So i have i’ve sent the dimensions off. I did. I averaged the old pot and the new pot, and i’ve gone halfway between so i think that’ll, be a really good size for the tree. I think it’ll, look good in that pot, almost right away and it’ll, allow the tree to grow and evolve in the future.
You know it’ll uh, probably look good with the tree for many years to come. Now. The question is the shape of the pot. I’ve, always had it in an oval shaped pot, and the canopy on the top of the tree is an oval and when you kind of get above, the pot kind of gets lost a bit, and i’ve always had an oval shaped pot, because i, like oval, shaped pots. I think you know there’s, no corners to distract your eye. It looks very natural, it looks like a you know, a slice of nature. The pot is very simple and i’ve, always liked the oval shaped pots and then, after i planted my ficus in a rectangular pot.
My thinking started changing here’s, my ficus microcarpa one. I call fancy and it’s in a rectangular pot, so the canopy on the tree is an oval shape and then the pot is a rectangular shape and it’s. Almost it’s kind of nice to have the difference in the two.
It provides some contrast. I it used to be in an oval-shaped pot and it didn’t. Look that good, because the canopy kind of matched the oval shape. So now it’s kind of i don’t know it provides a bit of a difference between the pot and the canopy, and i think it makes it more interesting.
The other advantage is that if you imagine an oval shape, you lose all the corners of your pot. So there’s, less room for roots to grow, so a rectangular shaped pot. Horticulturally is probably better and i’m thinking visually.
It might be better also, i’m, not sure my fusion ficus here, the one everyone calls frankenficus um is also in a rectangular pot and again, it kind of provides a nice contrast between the the soft kind of circular or oval shaped canopy to A rectangular pot, so it’s, something to think about.
I’ve, been uh looking at ficus trees online for a long time trying to determine you know what’s, the ideal pot for a ficus and most ficus, not all of them, but most are planted in rectangular pots. My dream pot for my ficus microcarp, my very first bonsai that i grew from a seed, is also in a rectangular pot and i think it looks awesome so yeah it’s really made me think my ficus religiosa is also in a rectangular pot. Now it has the rounded corners which kind of softens it up a bit so that’s. It’s, a nice style, it ‘ S also got the horizontal bead along the bottom, which makes it look even more shallower than the pot actually is my root over temple.
Ficus benjamina is also in a rectangular pot, and this one has the cutaway corners kind of fancy corners there. It also has the bead along the bottom, which makes it look even more narrow, yeah. So an interesting part.
My ginseng ficus here is also in a rectangular 3d printed pot. I looked at the weather forecast last night and it said it was going to rain all night, so i brought all my succulents into the greenhouse for the night and it looks like we might get some more rain around noon hour today.
So i’m, going to leave them in the greenhouse until the rain is over, and then i can bring them all back out if succulents are left outside in the rain and it rains for a long period of time like six or seven hours.
It’s too much water for the root system and it’ll start to rot and it ‘ Ll, possibly kill the plant, so it’s. A good idea. If you’re, going to get a long period of rain to bring them in under cover, i’m going to work on my spruce, larch combination forest, my mixed forest planting and it’s, a sort of a bog Style forest and it’s just been growing like crazy. You can see the shoots on the larch are really extending it’s becoming just like a big jumbled mess.
The weeds are starting to grow tall. The spruce back here, the black spruce, are really gaining vigor back budding growing like crazy, so the whole forest needs pruning back.
I brought my mixed forest over to the bench ready to be worked on it’s kind of nice lifting this forest up because there’s, no stones in it at all, and it’s quite light to lift. So a nice bonus. One of the reasons i’m working on the forest today is that all these branches grow long and you start getting dark spots in the middle of the forest and you get branches dying off from lack of light.
So you’ve got to keep each tree kind of pruned tightly, maintain it throughout the growing season. Otherwise, if it gets too out of control, you know all your growth is out of the tips and you lose all that inner growth on the trees which you need.
You need all that inner growth to keep the tree compact, so yeah a force like this takes a lot of regular maintenance to keep it in shape and there’s a lot of trees in here. So it’s, not just one tree.
You’re working on it’s. However many there are in here. Like i, don’t know there’s, probably close to 20 trees. I would think luckily, the dead trees won’t. Take any work. I’m going to start today by weeding so there’s, a few weeds that have grown up in the middle of the forest.
So i’ll, get those pulled out. [, Music ], some of the weeds will just need pruning back. Some of them are planted on purpose. They’re sort of a ground cover here’s, a view of the back of the forest, and you can see how nicely the spruce trees have grown.
You know all the lower branches seem to be doing really well very little die back so that that’s. Nice to see. I am getting a lot of that irish moss in here, which is not the greatest i’ve got to get all that out because that’ll just take over the entire forest floor. As i was working on the tree, i just had the uncanny feeling that i was in a forest. It was a strange feeling. I finished weeding the forest floor. So now i’ve got to prune the weeds.
I want to keep. I’ve got to prune those back to size because they’re growing up like a jungle most of the tall weeds. Is this wild chamomile. So i’ve got to prune it back, get it back to more like a a bush form or a small tree.
I may have to go in and thin them also because they will spread. They’re like a ground cover. They’ll spread, so i may have to go in and thin them out now. You can see in here a little more, but this ground cover is still way too high.
So i’ve got to prune that back for the ground cover i’ll, just come in with my curved scissors and just prune it back short. I don’t want it shading out the moss below. I want. It kind of a balance i had a little bit of liver ward in here, too looks kind of cool.
It looks like a giant uh. I don’t, know plant on the forest floor, but i don’t want it spreading liver warts. I don’t, know every wart and bones. I don’t, go together very well, so that’s getting better.
I’m just pruning. Some of this. I’m just pruning some of this chamomile back a little more here’s, a view of that liverwort see all the roots attached to the bottom of it and it spreads by spores, i believe so, if they’re In the air and they land on a nice moist soil, they’ll, probably start to grow.
Okay, i think i got it all out of there. I think i ‘ Ve got to do a little more pruning on the ground cover here. Prune some of this chamomile back a little shorter. It’ll, always grow again. That’s for sure yeah.
I got to make the chamomile a little more compact. It was getting a little spreading after the last pruning. I think that’s, got that in good shape. I’ll. Just do a little cleanup here. I’ve got a little shaving brush that i can brush out all the clippings.
The larch have been growing really well. There’s, a few branches that i pruned here. I guess last time and they’re starting to divide and get more branching, so i’m going to prune back all these long shoots.
Quite short, i want to keep these large trees quite compact and in a sort of a conical shape. So here i go. I’ll start at the apex of each tree, just pruning it back short like that, and then i’ll work, my way down kind of making that conical shape that first tree, i pruned up, has some back branches here that are Growing in towards the tree behind it, so you know the branches are starting to interfere and mesh with each other.
So i ‘ Ve got to keep pruning everything back, so each tree has a spot of sunlight, so they’re, not interfering with each other. So i’m pruning the second tree now [ Music ], i’m, just refining my conical shapes now making sure i prune back all those branches that are interfering with each other nice and short, that’s looking much better, i can see the shape of each tree. I think i’m, going to prune this chamomile even shorter, just let it grow up from the roots kind of replacing these big thick ones. I think they’re just getting too out of shape so that they do grow from the roots.
If you cut them, you know right back, [, Music, ] yeah. I think that looks better a little more, a little more of a clearing here, which is nice. It kind of invites you in even though the rest of the force doesn’t there’s, one little spot.
You can enter the forest. So already the forest is looking more miniature, so i’ll start on the trees over on the right hand. Side. Now i’m keeping the branches that are growing right down at the ground level.
Here i think that’ll, be a cool effect in the forest. It’ll, look very natural, so i’m, just pruning up the branches, getting them more compact, any shoots that are growing a strange direction. I prune them back fairly hard, some of these ones growing straight upwards.
I prune back keeping a little bit of the branch, but i think by the end of summer these larches will look quite nice. I think they ‘ Ll have a lot of ramification. They’ll, have that conical shape to them and look a lot more miniature than they do now.
So i ‘ Ve got two leaders growing up here. I’ve got to decide which one i want to keep this. One’s, the most vertical, so i’ll. Keep that one and i’ll prune this one off short as a branch, and this one’s, going to get pruned back too, like that, once you have the trees roughly pruned to shape, you can go back in and then further Refine them, you know, taking a critical eye, a critical look at it, as you reveal more of the tree structure.
As you prune away, you’ll find you’ll, see more details, so this little tree is quite short, and i think this will be the apex. So i’ll. Take it off here. This one is more of a branch, so i’ll. Take it back even further to there.
These are branches, some good growth in these larches. They’re, doing really well, okay, so that’s. Much improved this area. I’ll, keep working away at the larches, or, should i say the large, not arches the large i’ve got the large trees pruned up for now.
Anyway, i may refine them as i prune the spruce trees, but yeah. You can see it’s, a lot more open in here, starting to get that conical form on a lot of them, which is nice. This one may be still it’s, not a very tight triangle.
However, i better take it easy on them yeah, so it’s opened up the forest floor. A lot looks much nicer, so i’m, going to start on the spruce next. So again, my goal is to get that arrow tip on them. It’s, a really dense growth up top and then the branches down lower will be sparser and i think they’ll naturally grow.
That way. I don’t. Think i’ll, have much of a choice so yeah, so i’ll, start on the spruce trees. Next, on the spruce there’s, three different ages of needles. They’re. The brown ones which are from three years ago and they’re falling off, you can see them come off and then there’s, the these needles, the old needles.
These are from last year and then there’s. The kind of bluish green new growth, which is new growth for this year, you can prune back anywhere in a needle section on a spruce as long as the branch is vigorous and it’ll, more than likely put out new buds, you can see In this branch there is some buds already formed here right there and there’s some out here.
So you know if you want to be really safe, prune back to buds, visible buds. This branch has a lot of buds on it, but sometimes you know if you have a really vigorous branch and you have no choice, but you want to shorten it and the needles look really healthy and it’s getting good sunlight. You can prune back and the branch may live. It has a good chance anyway. I’m, going to begin the pruning of the spruce now, so i want a really tight triangle up top, so i’m, going to prune back all this new growth and i can see all kinds of buds here.
So i’ll prune back to a visible bud, which is always safe. There’s, some buds down here lower. So i can take that off. My objective is to get some really nice tight growth on these spruce, so i’m, taking them back to visible buds, as far as i can get them really short and compact, and then i can do some selection here like in this area.
I have one two three, four, five, six, seven, eight nine branches coming from one spot. So i can you know i’m, going to keep my flame shape up top here, but some of these at lower ones. I could probably prune them away.
So i’ll prune the one that’s, going directly backwards away, and this one down low here that can go, and this one i’m, just keeping my sort of upright flame shaped branches like that. So you can see that flame shape up here now, so some of the branches on these spruce are growing with vigor like up top the ones down lower.
You know the new growth is very weak, so i can’t do a whole lot with that growth. Yet i can take back some of these vigorous shoots, some more, but you know a branch like this, which isn’t growing strongly.
I can’t, do anything with it until it gets some good, strong growth on it. Otherwise, you’re, just kind of playing with fire. You might kill the tree or that branch, and i do even though these branches will be sparser as the tree goes down.
I do want them, because that’ll, be my backdrop for the larches in fall. I have that contrast of the green behind it with the uh light golden color of the larches, so that’ll, be interesting to see. I’m just pulling off some of the old needles here.
The brown ones yeah so other than printing the apex i can’t really do much with the rest of the tree. There’s, just not enough vigor in these lower branches. For me to do any pruning work at all. I’ll work on another apex here.
You can see there’s. Some really strong, bigger shoots. So here’s, the buds you can see those light-colored buds along the branch, so there’s, one facing outwards here, so i’ll. Take it right back to here, like that, taking the tip off i’m, going to try.
This tip see how it tastes very sprucy. Take this one back to here this one back to here this one. There’s, a bud way back here, so i’ll. Take it right back to here, making it really compact. Now there’s, some buds down here, so i can take this one right back.
So i’ll. Take it back to here all these buds down here now there’s, a bud down further. I can take this one even back further, maybe even this one, no, that one doesn’t have any buds down it. It’s good and vigorous.
I’m gonna i’m gonna. Take it off the tip off it’s, getting a little long. This one has a butt on the inside. I can take it back further, so that gets that apex really really compact on this tree and the branches surrounding it.
You know there’s, not much growth on it at all. So i can’t touch them there’s. One back here i could prune the tip off that’s about it. Yeah, that’s about all. I can do to that spruce. It looks like there’s, a big rainstorm coming in some of the spruce on the end.
Here you can see there’s, new growth on all the branches, so they’re, doing much better than these taller trees in the middle. So i’ll, be able to do a little more pruning on these trees. So again, i’ll, start with the apex getting that nice and compact.
I’m, going to take this branch right out. This was the former apex, but i ‘ Ve got all this new growth. That’s. Really tight in here, so i can just prune this entire branch off it’s, just not needed anymore.
I got a better apex now. So as i go down the branches like here’s, one that i can prune back there’s buds back here, so i’ll. Take it off here there’s, a good strong branch coming off here. So i can take that back to here.
Maybe i’ll, go even further to there. This branch here i can take back, take the tip off this one. There’s, a branch from the tree beside it here that is quite vigorous. I kind of missed that one, so i can take it back shorter.
There’s a there’s, a branch back here, so i’m, going to take it to tip off like that. That way, it’s, not interfering with the tree beside it. Quite so much, and hopefully i can get some back budding in here and shorten it even more in the future.
There’s, a branch here i can take back one here. Take the tip off there’s, another one here and the branch here i can take back to here. So i’m working on the apex of this tree now so again you can see this is the old former apex and i ‘
Ve got all these nice little shoots down below. So i can take that old apex right off, like that and i’ve got all these new ones forming the new apex. So i’ll. Take these back back here and back to here.
So now that’s got a fairly compact apex on that tree. I can just take the tip off here like that. Okay onto this tree now, okay, so there’s there’s. The apex i got. I think i cut that off, it could have been the rabbit i’m, not sure, but there is a little apex growing up here that would replace it, which is nice, so i can prune these surrounding branches back shorter again, you know making sure The branch is healthy and i’m, going back to a visible bud, [ Music ].
This will give light to that new apex. There’s, a branch here kind of sticking up. I can take the vertical part of it off. So these spruce on the end here they were growing really nicely. I was able to do a fair amount of branch work to them, which is kind of nice.
Some of these that are interfering. These branches that are crisscrossing – i’m, going to shorten them back because, usually, when you have two trees growing beside each other, the branches don’t grow towards the other tree.
There’s, just no light, so i’m, taking them kind of out a bit of thinning here. So there’s, a little more space between the two trees same with. Here there’s, one pointing towards the other tree. I can take out one down lower.
It was getting shaded out anyway. I’ll work away at the other spruce. I think i have one two three four five of them left, so i’ll work away at those and then we’ll come back and see what they look like.
I’m standing back having a look at the forest. Now i was really pleased today. I was able to do a lot more pruning to the trees than i expected. The vigor was really coming on strong on some of them, so i could prune them back, making them more compact, which was really nice, and I’ll just continue to do that in the future, keeping them compact picking my best branches, slowly refining them over the upcoming years. This planting is very young. All the trees in here are basically, you know three or four year old seedlings.
They’re, not really anything special, and i think they came together and made a really nice forest. It gives me that feeling that i’m looking at a real forest, and i want to go in there and explore it.
I’m, going to go in now and just clean up some of the forest floor. Some of the moss is well, it looks too. Even i can prune away parts of the moss to make some parts high and some parts lower, give a little variation and, i think [, Music ].
I think that’ll, give it a a natural force feeling, rather than all the moss kind of being the same height. I’ll start with my entrance way here, just kind of making a bit of a path that looks a little more inviting.
I know the one of the themes for this forest was to kind of keep it wild like you’re, not invited into the forest, but i want to give it a bit of a bit of a friendly feeling. I’ll, clear out the moss underneath the trees a bit too.
It’s kind of growing up into the branch structure, and you know usually underneath a tree. You don’t, get a lot of lush growth. That’s kind of shaded out it’s quite dry, underneath the tree too so, and that may just naturally occur in the future too.
These miniature forests tend to you know, have all the same traits as a full-size forest. As far as where vegetation grows and where it doesn’t this pruning back of the moss underneath the trees allows you to see the trunk of the tree more clearly too, which gives it a more realistic forest.
Look a look at the forest. Now i’ve got the landscape. All cleaned up, the trees are all pruned up, so i was really happy with the result. I think the forest looks a little more miniature [ Music ]. It’s time now, for today’s updates, it looks like the weather has held off there’s, even some blue sky up there. Now tonight it’s supposed to drop down to seven degrees celsius, which is getting really cool.
Today’s, update is my natal ficus. This is an african ficus. It was uh kind of styled as a cascade. Originally, i did a lot of heavy cutting on it, a lot of major growing on it to get sort of a canopy.
On top of the tree, and my goal for this tree is to create it in the style. Like you see some of the giant ficus in the african landscapes, they’re, just huge trees, with a giant crown that covers a lot of land.
They’re, they’re amazing trees, [, Music, ], so [, Music, ] it’s. Do it’s? Doing really! Well, i ‘ Ve got a strange kind of crack in the trunk here, where i think the two live veins have kind of separated a bit it’s interesting.
I think it’ll heal over fine, but uh yeah. It’s, just something uh, to keep an eye on this area. Here it was just cut off. It was just cut off a straight cut across here, and this is all new growth that’s come in, i let this shoot grow. Really really long to thicken it up and it’s. Getting there. It’s starting to blend in really nicely, which is amazing and the tree when i first put it out in spring. I didn’t have room to keep it in the shade i had to put it in the sun and it kind of got sunburnt.
You can see the leaves that are sunburned here, but now the new growth is coming out on it. The new growth looks really really healthy. The tree’s. Doing really well, so it’ll, be exciting, developing this crown over the years and into this giant spreading tree yeah.
Looking forward to it, it looks like the sun is coming out. After all, my cube here that collects the rain water is 100 full. So i’ve got over a thousand liters, which is good. It’s, nice to have a good reserve of water for the summer.
It was down to about here at one time, so it’s filled all that top portion again, because i use a fair amount of water each day, watering the trees that’s. All for today
The NEW Bonsai Made Easy Handbook
No matter what level of experience you have in Bonsai, there's a 139-page fully illustrated publication I highly reccommend from a Bonsai Academy expert covering everything to do with Bonsai. Discover the Best & Simple Way "How to Grow Healthy Bonsai"
Bonsai For Beginners
Want learn about Bonsai from the real experts? This new publication is the ideal place to start for beginners covering everything from A-Z in this popular hobby and profitable business. Watch some of the videos or get all the information here "Bonsai For Beginners"