Pruning My Cathedral Style Thuja Bonsai

Starting with my collected Thuja occidentalis, I’m beginning to get my hardy trees pruned before spring arrives!
This tree is commonly known as an Eastern White Cedar.

Hi there nigel saunders here today we are venturing into the outdoors to work on some hearty trees i’m going to begin the outdoor work by working on my thuja occidentalis or my eastern white cedar i’m styling this tree in the cathedral style with all the vertical spires or branches pointing to the heavens so the front of the tree is somewhere about here and a lot of this foliage has gotten very long i want to keep the tree fairly compact to the trunk and all the branches going vertical with just little branches coming off those vertical ones to kind of get that cathedral style when i collected this tree it had been cut down from a taller tree it was in a pathway and so all the branches have kind of regrown from that stump that was left over so i’ve got kind of two vertical leaders now and i want them going straight up that cathedral style i’ve got a thicker one off to this side and a thinner one on this side to keep them going straight i may have to do some pruning because if you see this one i’ve got a vertical kind of shoot that continues that vertical line and then i have one off to the side that’s quite thicker so i could prune this one off to get more taper keep my vertical lines on this cathedral top going and i may have to do the same for the other one it’s starting to lean over a bit i may be able to replace the apex with a a more vertical shoot so i’ll start on this one and i will do that i’ll prune off this one that’s off on an angle that’ll get my tree a little shorter i’ll get more taper in those trunks and allow room to grow in the future up nice and vertical all right so here’s the branches i’m talking about so i’ve got a vertical one here and i can prune off this one that kind of goes off to the side so here i go this is a fairly major cut here i go like that i’m going to mark the front of the tree i’ll just put a stone here get the exact front i would say right about there here’s a look at the front of the tree so you can see that branch i pruned off was right here i’ve got a new leader coming up here maybe another one here so i’m going to look at the main trunk line now so it’s kind of splitting off into two here it comes up vertical and then it comes up to a fork there’s nothing really going absolutely vertical i do have a lot of branches coming out the front of the tree that’s kind of blocking your view of the main structure i may have to do a lot of thinning in that area so i think this will be the main trunk line and i’ll just have to prune it as vertical as i can keeping you know the most vertical line to the apex of the tree all right i’m going to prune up that trunk line now yeah i may have to rotate the front slightly just to get a more vertical trunk line and i’ve got a branch coming out the front here a couple of them if i have the front over here they’ll be pointing straight at the viewer so i guess i gotta rotate it a bit off so i’ll move my front of the tree just slightly off to here and i’m still looking for vertical trunk lines yeah there is where the trunk divides here from one to two i could use this back one as the leader and remove this section which is kind of straight without any foliage and it would leave a scar but i’ve had ones there before and they they heal over quite nicely so i’m thinking maybe of doing that it would get my height the height of the tree down a bit i’ve got lots of branching on this back branch and it gives me room to develop the apex up even higher then this one’s just kind of long and straight and it kind of goes off on an angle so i think i’ll do that i’m going to remove that that one trunk here i’ll show you that junction a little more closely so the front of the tree would be about here and there’s that junction in there so i have one going to the back and one coming to the front the one coming to the front is kind of thick and straight without any taper and it goes off on an angle the one at the back is more vertical but it kind of goes away from the viewer a bit but i think a lot of times in these cedars branches straighten up too i think i’m going to prune to that back branch so i’m going to take this whole top off the tree here and i think that’ll make a better tree in the end so let’s get to it all right here i go this is a big step i can see i’ve pruned off some thick branches there before too all right here i go i’m going to try and make a fairly flush cut one two three done boy oh boy that’s a big big branch now these can root as cuttings i cut them off flat at the base here stick them in soil and sometimes they root sometimes they don’t you’re looking at the front view now and i’ve got this is my new apex for this branch or trunk and i again it goes off to the side i want to prune it back to make the tree more compact so i’m looking for my most vertical trunk lines which is either this branch or this one and i think this one’s the better one so it’s going to get pruned off the apex here here i go just like that the thicker of the cathedral style branches is being pruned back to here so now my other one seems a little tall so i may have to reduce that back also i’m just looking for something suitable here well i can’t take too much off i can take this off here like that um there’s not really a lot of other good vertical branches here i could develop this one i think that’s probably the best one and maybe take this section off yeah i’m going to do that so here i go i’ll take a angular cut here just taking that top piece off kind of reduces this down a bit and this will grow more vigorously so the balance will be restored now i’ve got a lot of cleanup to do here it’s really grown last year so i’ve got to get all my branches more compact otherwise it looks like a big sprawling deciduous tree i want to keep the tree fairly compact all right so here goes the pruning so i’ve got to get back to my front here and i’m looking for there’s a branch growing on the inside here i can remove where does it come from way over here get rid of that like that take that out this cleans up this area i’ve got a branch coming out the front here that’s very long i’ll prune it back prune this one back there’s a chute going towards the inside here i can remove that or branch i’ve got a hanging branch from way up here i don’t want any hanging branches that are kind of going straight down so i’m going to take that off there’s one growing to the inside here i’ll take that one off so you can see this is cleaning up my trunk line a lot so you can see the structure a little more i’m also trying to bring it in more compact there’s a branch here i can reduce back one growing towards the inside here i can remove another one on the inside here i can remove one here now i’ve got a there’s a cathedral branch here and the top of it’s kind of sprawling off on an angle so i’m looking to see if there’s anything more vertical coming off that branch um there is one at the back i’m going to prune this back here there’s a long shoot here i can prune back turn these back [Music] just getting these branches more compact i may come in and reduce them back even further later on it’s kind of got that branch pruned up though now i’ll deal with this vertical one here there’s another cathedral branch here comes up and curves skyward so i’ve got to get got to get the trunk line established for that i’ll prune back some of these longer branches it is so nice out today it’s unbelievable six degrees celsius fantastic now there’s a branch coming up from here crosses everything i don’t think i want that i’m going to remove it like that there’s no point having these cathedral branches if you can’t see them swooping upwards i’ve got a thick branch off to this side here too i think i’m going to remove that totally like that keeping this vertical part always lots of tough decisions on these trees let’s prune this branch back okay let’s keep going here um [Music] got a branch coming off here boy oh boy it’s getting quite vigorous out the side here very interesting branch i’m going to take most of it off this part and turn this part back to here trying getting it trying to get it to grow more vertical take the branches back here i’m pruning back to nice foliage good healthy foliage i don’t want to prune back to wheat growth too far back or you kill off the branch i’ve got a nice cathedral branch here i’m just going to prune off this kind of long side branch or reduce it back like that now i’ve got a quite a thick kind of horizontal branch coming off of my main leader here i’m not sure i want that it’s not the worst branch in the world but it is quite thick and it’s quite long i could reduce it back to this shoot which i think i will yeah make it a little more compact especially the apex i don’t want it sprawling at the apex so this one is going to come back to here here i go like that i guess that’ll become a cathedral branch because it wants to go vertical which is good there is another branch in the way here that is also kind of going vertical one on top of each other i got to decide which one i want to keep tough decision i got a quite i got three branches in a row all kind of coming out they’re in a line a vertical line and they’re all kind of coming out i’ve got this one is developing into a cathedral branch this one too and i guess this one is too huh i guess logically this lowest branch kind of crosses the one behind it this one is a little slimmer and it’s going quite nicely vertical i could prune that thicker one off it would look pretty good all right i’m going to remove it that thicker one’s got to come off it’s a nice branch but it’s just not in the right place so i’ll come in here and prune it off so here i go like that done and i think that looks better too yes cleans that area up a lot if you look at it from the front view much nicer now there’s a branch crossing here that i’ll remove i don’t want that one kind of crossing my trunk line let’s go back to the front here now it’s helping that cleaned that up a lot now in this area i’ve got two maybe three branches again all one above each other coming from one spot i’ll show you that up close so in here if you look in here i’ve got one two three almost like ladder branches one above the other doesn’t look so good i got to clean that area probably keeping that vertical one maybe removing those two more horizontal ones so that’s my dilemma i’ll uh i’ll have a look from the front and kind of try and decide what looks the best well the one one is just a dead stump i can remove that one i’m not after deadwood yet and then i’ve got two one above the other um this one has some vertical growth the bottom one just kind of comes out horizontal so it’s going to be the bottom one that gets removed i’ll come in with my branch pruners all right yeah the bottom one’s going to be removed so here i go just like that quite a big branch so back to the front now that’s what i’m left with certainly cleared that area up i’ve got a lot of branches on top of each other here i’ve got to do some sorting in that area i think i’ll take this one off that’s coming out towards the front here like that it gets rid of one of them and i still have two one above each other here which one do i keep i think i’m gonna remove the top one like that making it more compact looking better i think yeah the tree’s getting more upright it’s slimmer it’s not so wide and spreading you can see the structure of it nicely ah it feels like spring out it’s fantastic today i know it’s going to get colder again but ah this one day just feels like spring well that is looking much better there’s the front view of the tree it’s looking more like a tree now i do have this one shoot that’s quite tall at the back here that needs to be reduced for sure so i’m going to do it i’m going to prune this tall part off like that this will be my new apex so i’ll prune this part off and that’s got it reduced down in height it’s not perfectly straight but it has a bit of a zigzag but that’ll straighten out over the years it’ll kind of smooth out and become quite natural looking here’s a look at the tree now it’s looking very upright um it’s getting that cathedral look in a lot of places compared to when i first dug this tree up it had all these long thick horizontal branches and it was somewhat had sawed it off here and it was didn’t have a lot of potential at first but it’s starting to get there it’s starting to look like an old mature tree still has a lot of work to go though but that’s kind of where we’re at i’ll really look forward to it growing in and spraying and yeah it’ll get a lot of character to it i think some of these older bark plates will have to come off they’re starting to get too too large and thick looking i want the bark to look miniature so a tree that’s slow grown gets little miniature plates of bark on it and this is the initial bark from when it was grown in the ground and it now it’s fairly coarse looking but that’ll refine over the years i did a lot of root pruning to this tree a lot um i have the root bases pretty well pretty well sorted out um i you know i can keep refining it but i did most of these structural work on the root base so it has a fairly nice radial root system on the tree now it’s just a matter of it all healing all those cuts i made have to heal over and then we can start exposing the roots a little more but yeah it’s going to look quite good i think the root system in the future it was a little risky what i did but uh you know i think in the end it’ll pay off the tree did live so that’s that’s one good thing the next step will be just to let the tree grow once again with all the roots sorted out and in a nice radial pattern and balanced you’ll start to see a lot of fluting on the trunk you can see it now that they’re these live veins growing up the trunk and that’ll increase in the future as these roots develop and thicken and i’ll get all these live veins coming up the trunk and it should have a really nice base to the tree eventually there may be some areas that you know this will probably die off this part of the living vein because i pruned a root here but it’ll eventually recover and you get all this nice floating on the trunk i’m looking forward to seeing this tree in the years ahead it was so nice getting outside on this beautiful day today pruning up my thuja occidentalis into the cathedral style form but that’s all for today i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone

You May Also Like