Pruning Eastern White Cedar Bonsai

Eastern White Cedar Bonsai

I’m going to be pruning up these two eastern white cedar group plantings the trees used in these plantings are thuja occidentalis it’s a native tree to this region of ontario canada i’m going to start with this group of three trees that’s growing over top of a rock and the story behind this is harold who i used to cycle with he collected this really interesting rock and he put it in a planter in his backyard and it kind of grew moss over top of it and then he’s got these cedar trees kind of surrounding his backyard and seeds dropped on top of the moss and they germinated and these three trees grew on top of the rock all by themselves they were just they weren’t planted or anything so so it’s a very natural or as natural a group planting as you can get here’s a close-up look at the rock and the roots the way the trees have grown over the rock and kind of grown into the rock a bit really interesting so there’s three trees in here i’ll rotate it around [Music] so there’s the back of the planting you can see all the roots coming down here i really like this composition and these three trees here the only problem with root over rock plantings is that the rock never grows with the tree the tree keeps getting larger and it could eventually outgrow the rock so you’ve really got to keep the trees pruned back and sometimes it involves quite a bit of hard pruning to keep the tree kind of in proportion to the rock so it doesn’t grow really large and the rock becomes this little insignificant object at the base of the tree i have pruned this tree back fairly hard at one time i replaced the apex with a branch and i’m just trying to see if i can see the cut point i guess it’s right up top here and then this these new shoots have grown to make a new apex so today i’m going to be trimming all these trees back right now it looks like one big tree here so i want to try and get three individual bonsai trees once again getting them all pushed back in size so again it brings everything back into proportion i’m going to begin at the top of the tree and i’ll reduce it back in height as much as i can but i still want you know a flowing trunk line i don’t want just to cut it off and have like a 90 degree apex on the top it’s still got to look like a a natural tree so i’m looking for green shoots back here so i can prune the top off here here’s those green shoots each side so i can take the top off like this that’s the apex of the tallest tree there’s a lot of branches around the apex like here’s another one that’s going straight up that i can prune right off taking that out pruning back anything i can back to healthy green scale like foliage here’s a shoot that’s really long here a branch right near the apex i want to bring it into a conical type form so i’m going to reduce that right back to here keeping some of the green growth further back like that doing a little pinching too just to bring everything in more compact it’s hard to see the structure of the tree at the moment but as i prune away these long branches i’m hoping i can see more of the trunk and the branch structure when you get foliage that’s elongated like this it’s really kind of long and whippy you can prune off the top part of it like that and then you go in and you grab it by the base and you just pinch off the branch to a rounded profile like that and that gets it more compact and more miniature looking i’ll work away pruning all the foliage back getting it more compact and then we’ll come in and we’ll look at the branches and the structure of it and make some styling decisions or some decisions on the branches i’m also removing branches that are facing in towards the trunk of the bonsai tree that kind of you know aren’t fanning out nicely uh any branches that are sticking up vertical off the more horizontal branches i’m removing so basic pruning and how far you take these branches back is a matter of you’ve got to leave green foliage on it nice healthy green foliage you can’t take it back to a bear branch or you’ll kill the branch so how far you take it back is really a question of how daring you are you’ve got to keep enough green on the tree to make it live but you’ve got to also prune it back as far as you can otherwise these things just get big and bushy so yeah you take it take it to the limit take it down with some nice green foliage on the branch and keep your fingers crossed it’s a good time of the year to do it right now so there’s also you know a bit of die back from last year that i’m pruning out some of the brown spots they say with pruning like this take it back till it kind of scares you that you wonder how is the tree gonna live when you’re at that point you know you’ve gone back as far as you can go and you hope the tree does live usually it does [Music] as branches get too thick on these trees it’s good to find a replacement for instance see on the trunk here there’s a little shoot a new shoot coming out here and down below i’ve got this really thick branch that’s getting too thick so i’m going to reduce the thick branch back maybe even take it right off yeah i can take it right off here like that so i’ve replaced that thicker branch i’m going to take this little one out here with a thinner one that was just hiding down below it now i’m pruning that one back to kind of get it shorter and behind that there’s one two three branches this so this one isn’t that thick yet but i’ve got to prune it back to keep it in check otherwise it will get too thick do a little pinching so let’s really clean that area up a lot got rid of all those really thick branches and replaced them with thinner ones that’s what helps keep these trees looking miniatures to have kind of this trunk and then these thin branches coming off it especially near the apex you don’t want big thick coarse branches near the apex in the front view you can see there’s a thick branch coming out the front here from this back tree and you can see there’s a a nicer branch coming off the side so i can prune off this thick part of the branch so here i go like that keeping this thinner one off to the side here i’m beginning to see the definition between all the trees which is kind of exciting here’s another branch i can prune off a thick one there’s a large branch going towards the middle so i’m trying to keep the the branches all between the trees kind of clean so there’s some separation between the trees otherwise it just looks like a bush if you don’t keep them separated there’s a song about that you got to keep them separated i’ve got the tree pruned back far enough that i can see all the trunks and make some styling decisions if i need to make any so i’m looking at the overall composition you can see that the rock looks more important now it’s not just a shaggy bunch of foliage on top of a rock anymore you can see the individual tree trunks so it looks much better it looks a little naked at the moment but once all that new growth comes in it’ll fill out and look quite nice i think um so i’m looking at it it’s a little heavy on the apex of the front tree so i’ll try and thin that out a bit the tree on the right hand side it kind of follows the main tree or the front tree quite closely it’s it’s very parallel to it and very close to it which looks nice i kind of like that and then the other tree is kind of off on an angle um it looks a little detached from the main clump but i mean that’s the way it is i i can’t can’t do much about that i’ve got a style around that so maybe i need to you know reduce the apex of that slanting tree so it spreads out even more right now it kind of it spreads out at the base and then it kind of comes up vertical and maybe even comes back at the main tree a little bit uh kind of turns in on itself so maybe pruning it off shorter so it’s kind of stays spreading out so it’s almost like a you know looks more like a branch rather than a separate tree but yeah so i think that’s a few improvements i can make let me see what i can do about that apex first i’m going to prune off the top part of that tree on the side here just so it fans out a little more rather than kind of coming in at the top it also gives me three different heights so i’ve got the tallest tree in the center a slightly shorter tree off to the right hand side and then even shorter on the left hand side and i think that looks i like that much better actually it looks good yeah so i think now everything’s looking good i just need to thin out that apex on the center tree here’s that apex and if i leave all these branches around here you’ll get this kind of a ball shape on the trunk it’ll thicken up don’t want that so i’m going to reduce these branches back so here’s one shooting straight up i can get rid of like that i’m always looking to cut off my thickest branches and keep the new shoots that are really thin take that off if i can sort of always replacing the thicker branches with thinner ones and that keeps your apex nice and fine looking okay so that helps but i’ve still got a lot of branches coming from one spot so i’ve got to reduce that yeah you can actually see the ball shape forming here i’m gonna have to get the branch pruners and kind of clean that up there’s quite a thickening over on this side i’m gonna have to remove this one branch here like that i think i’m going to take part of this off too like that really reducing that back it’ll leave a lot of scar tissue here but it’ll look quite nice so now from the front view you can see the apex is nice and thin and tapered it doesn’t have that bulge anymore and those scars will heal over really well and it’ll give the tree a bit of character i’m just wondering if i can reduce this apex down even shorter i think i can i can use this as my new leader so i’ll take this branch back knock some vigor out of that apex like that just making sure the other apex is nice and thin taking off a thick branch here so it doesn’t thicken up like that and i think that’s good structurally for the tree the last thing i want to do is pinch back kind of the loose foliage to tighten it up just a bit so i’ll come in and just do a bit of pinching now getting rid of those long kind of shaggy ends of the full edge and just kind of making it more compact this is the second time i’ve given this tree a really good pruning like this i was really pleased with the results after i did it the first time it grew in really nicely after nice and full and compact and then it started growing out of the sh out of shaping once again which always happens if you have a larger scale duja or eastern white cedar sometimes those cascading kind of branches the long tips of the branches look really nice on it but when you’re dealing with a small scale tree like this which is basically the height of my hand you’ve got to keep everything pruned pretty tight otherwise it just starts looking like a bush once again i’m standing back having a look at the trees and they’re looking they’re looking good i do want to change the pot in this it doesn’t suit it at all i’ll need a a pot that’s kind of maybe a shallow oval pot probably closer to the stone color so the stone maybe looks part of the pot more so the stone doesn’t stand out so much if i go you know with a dark brown pot that kind of matches the trunk color then the stone will stand out too much so i think a lighter pot would make the stone less noticeable i don’t know if i have any around that i could kind of try it out in but oh look i’m not sure i have any gray colored pots but i’ve got kind of a light rectangular pot that maybe gives you an idea of what it would look like if this wasn’t this color um i’ll see what else i have i found this kind of uh green colored pot and i think it matches the stone color just perfectly and it’s not a bad size either this might be the pot it goes in it’s it’s a little deeper than i wanted but uh that’s a good choice i like this color with it it’s tones with the rock color really nicely kind of that off-white green color so i think that’s the color of the pot i’m looking for maybe not the ideal shape but not bad better than this blue one i have it in now i have a pot that’s a little more of a green color and i think that’s even better i think it sort of halfway between the green foliage and the color of the rock i think it really suits the tree so that’s another good possibility there’s a better look at what the tree would look like in this pot i think it looks pretty good very exciting i’m not going to repot it this year it doesn’t need it but certainly next year i could put it in this pot we had a really sunny day today it was just beautiful out it was very cool but it was nice so i moved all my hearty trees out of the greenhouse that i had in last night there’s the ducks by ducks [Music] and i moved in my tropicals for the day so ah so i haven’t had the heat on so let’s see what temperature it is it is 60 degrees fahrenheit or that’s about 16 degrees celsius right now so that’s not bad i mean it was 20 25 in here in the mid-afternoon so today i’ve got my acacia trees out here my lemon tree the one that i pruned the roots and they’re healing over quite nicely i had some scale on this so i spent about i don’t know 20 minutes scraping scale off spraying with soap and water getting that all cleaned up so that was i never noticed it indoors but as soon as i brought it out in the greenhouse you can see all the little details on the tree and uh i got it cleaned up sprayed down so that was good i’m glad i got that done i got my ficus fancy out here my ficus from the seed my sarissa got my brazilian rain tree out here i thought i can do with some sunshine so it seems much happier out here i’ve got my franken ficus my fusion ficus out here it’s like in the sun and i’ve got my other lemon tree which also had scale on it not very much there’s only like one leaf in one branch that had a tiny bit of scale so i treated that too yeah so these trees get a spa day out here today they get spoiled it’s oh i forgot to see what humidity it was it’s 74 humidity and that’s i haven’t sprayed it in a while you can see the benches have dried out and it’s not very warm in here so as the temperature drops in the air so does the humidity warm air can hold more water in it and cooler air can’t so that’s why you get rain when cool air hits warm air it can’t hold the water anymore so it rains yeah so i’m going to have to bring all these trees back into the plant room very soon and i don’t think it’s going to get all that cold tonight i think we’re looking at one degree celsius so one degree above freezing so i think all the outdoor trees will be fine i don’t have to bring them into the greenhouse but i’ve certainly got to get these out of here i’ll just show you an update on my garlic here’s my garlic it hasn’t grown a whole lot but it looks good and healthy still and then here’s my thistle my i think it’s like a scottish thistle they grow really tall like the height of me they get a big purple flower on top it’s doing really well in this bonsai pot i don’t know why i put it in a cascade pot that’s kind of the pot i had right beside me so i thought i’ll use this one so it’s doing well some of the larches that are repotted you can see there’s a bit of browning on the tips of the needles some of them are turning a bit bluish color you can see up here we call that the blue tinge of death um that usually means they’re struggling a bit when they turn that kind of bluish color but usually they bounce back fairly quickly after uh the roots start going and hopefully that’ll be the case i’m happy with the progress of these three little cedars that started from a seed i think they’re doing really well i’m going to be pruning up the elephant forest in part two of this series so i’ll be doing that tomorrow so that’s all for today i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone

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