Pruning My Portulacaria Afra Forest Bonsai

After two months of growing, my Portulacaria afra bonsai forest is ready for pruning once again. I’m taking advantage of back budding to reduce the height of the trees and to refine the branch structure.

I’m growing this forest to resemble the giant Baobab trees of Africa.

Today i’ll be working on my portulacaria afroforest these trees are styled to look like the giant african baobab trees so today i’ll be doing some more pruning i last worked on this forest about two months ago i brought it up out of the cold basement out of dormancy i replaced all my dead trees that died last winter with cuttings and i gave it a pruning here’s a look at the forest now so hopefully in the next week or so it’s all going to wake up get all kinds of new foliage hopefully my cuttings will root if not i’ll just keep trying until i get them a cutting to root in there since the last pruning it’s grown really vigorously with large internodes between the leaves and that might be because it had a dormant period it had a rest period and now it’s just bursting with vigor and growing like crazy so today i’m going to prune that new growth back making the tree more compact after i pruned this forest last time i ended up with quite a flat top on the main tree here and you can see now that it’s grown into that rounded shape and that often happens on trees you kind of prune them off flat and all the vigor of the tree is in the center so it grows more vigorously in the center and less vigorously on the edges so you naturally get that dome canopy if you’ve pruned it off to a flatter type shape the idea behind this forest is to give the impression of giant baobab trees growing in the african savanna so i’ve got kind of a dry landscape rocky dry landscape and the trees i’m trying to grow the trunks really thick but maintain the height of the trees so looking at this tree i would say it’s getting too tall in height the taller the tree gets the skinnier the trunk looks you know if you imagine this tree being kind of that height it would have a really short squat fat trunk and that’s the look i’m after so i generally let these trees grow you know with a lot of vigor and then i prune them back and gradually over the years that trunk will thicken up and you’ll get you know a nice branch structure and try and duplicate that baobab look to the tree let’s look at some photographs now of giant african baobab trees and i’ll show you that kind of styling that i’m looking for the fat trunks the highly tapered branches and kind of a compact rounded crown [Music] [Music] [Music] that was a look at some nice giant african babe trees so on this tree i’m pruning the upper canopy here because i want to take advantage of any back budding to shorten the overall height of the tree i don’t want the tree getting tall and i think it’s starting to get too tall now i’m hoping i don’t have to do some hard pruning on it to reduce the height i may have to do that in the future i’ve done it in the past where i cut the entire tree down to about here and regrew it and that’s part of growing a thick trunk is you let it grow and then you prune it back and then you let it grow again prune it back and gradually you get this really thick highly tapered trunk on the tree i’m going to start to work on this lowest branch here i’ve got it comes up and divides into two maybe three back here and then it grows up really tall up into the upper canopy so i’m going to start reducing the height of that first taking that branch that’s growing up through the canopy here take that back and then i don’t want this one growing on the inside here so i’ll take that one off totally like that there’s a leaf on the inside i can remove also so now everything’s fanning outwards i’ve got a branch here that’s kind of crossing and i’ve got a better branch on the outside so i’ll take this inside one off like that and then i’ll need to reduce these tips back to there so that’s got that branch pruned up now i’ve got to decide do i want this one this tall do i know do i want it coming out front more so it is possible i have a shoot at the back back here that’s going in towards the tree but i could get another one growing outwards if i prune this tall one back i’m looking from the front of the tree and it is very straight this section here so i think i’ve got to prune it off shorter so i’ve got a shoot coming out the back so i’m hoping one comes out the front here so i’ll take it off here here i go like that i like to get taper in these branches i’m just going to take a stub off here i have an opportunity here to go from this thickness down to a new chute here removing this upper part so i’m going to take advantage of that and take this part of the branch off like that now there’s one growing towards the inside here i’ll remove that also like that and then i want this branch to come out towards the front so i’ll take it back to here leaving just the one leaf on it now i’ve got a shoot coming up here i’ve got to decide do i want that i don’t think so i’ve gotten a nice change of taper from thick here to thinner here so i think i’m just going to take that off like that so that’s got that front branch pruned up i’ve got a branch here if i follow this one up it’s really nice it goes from very thick here tapers down divides into two here and i want to continue that taper so this comes up i’ve got a thin branch here which is growing in towards the tree which isn’t really a good branch at all i’ve got one horizontal here and i could reduce the height of the tree by taking this upper part off um just taking a stub off here and i’ve got to decide is that what i want i think so i i think this is a good branch to develop and i can remove this upper part that would reduce the height of the tree especially at the edges of the canopy which would help me get that nice rounded shape so i’m going to remove it here i go like that and then there’s a new shoot coming off of here that i’ve got to reduce back so now i’ve got to decide do i want to keep this one that’s growing in towards the center of the tree it’s a nice branch it’s kind of twisty i’ll take off that vertical growth on it so i’ll remove this shoot like that and i have to decide do i want that one i think i do i think it’s a rule breaker a rule breaker of a branch but it’s a nice branch it’s got some movement to it just taking some stubs off yeah i kind of like that branch i’ll just take some of the tips off it to keep it nice and compact like that that’s got that pruned up it’s got this entire branch pruned up and hopefully something i’ll shoot out in this area you know get some back button get a nicer direction but at least it’s a bit lower now this whole branch the branch i just pruned it comes up it divides into two i dealt with the front half of that branch and now i’m going to prune the back half so again to get that kind of dome-shaped canopy to it i need these branches at the edges of the canopy to be quite low so i’m going to just prune back some of these long shoots for now and we’ll come in and see how it looks and then maybe i can reduce it further i’ve got i’ve got back here i’ve got three branches i’ve got two more horizontal ones and then there’s one kind of going up the middle here i’ll take this tall one off and that’ll reduce the height of that branch i’ll prune back some of these tips on it getting that branch more compact i could take this one off on the inside here and develop these horizontal ones which i think i will it’ll give it a little more movement to that branch so i’ll take this entire tip off here there so that’s got that branch nice and pruned up now this branch it comes up and then it kind of grows in towards the center of the tree there’s nothing really on the out much on the outside except for this one shoot here so i’ll take off the chute that’s growing to the inside here like that that gets that branch going a better direction but this back part has nothing coming towards me so not sure what i should do there i’ll take off this one on the inside here and i may just have to wait for something to develop on the outside there i’ve got nothing there’s another one growing in the inside i could remove here right here like that and i’ve got one growing up in between here i’ll take that one off there yeah not the greatest branch in the world that one but something will happen we’ll get some branching on it just a matter of time i’m going to start work on the other edge of the canopy over on this side reducing some of that down so i’ll start by removing these vertical shoots here cutting them back anyway reduce these tips prune them back get them more compact there’s a branch growing the inside here i’ll take that one off now i have i have two good branches here and there’s a third one behind i’m going to take that third one right off like that yeah there’s always some tough pruning decisions on these trees i think i am going to take that off everything tells me i should take it off so i am here i go it’s done it certainly doesn’t change the appearance of the tree at all so that’s good and i’m glad to get that off now i don’t want these branches getting too long and they are starting to sprawl out so if i can reduce this branch back a bit um i will i’m going to take it off here like that that just gets us a little more compact so it’s not sprawling out too far sideways i don’t want it looking like an acacia tree with a flat top and you know very long canopy all right so i’m going to reduce this shoot back now i’m going to deal there’s a branch coming out the front here i’m going to get that so here’s a vertical part i can take off another vertical shoot here i can remove like that i can prune these ones back take the tips off them tip off of here i’m going to take some of these vertical shoots off the top here they’re just shooting straight up with vigor so i’ll reduce them back or remove some of them off totally if they’re no good now there’s a good point here i can reduce this height of this branch because i have some back butting down lower so i’ll take advantage of that and prune the top of that branch off so i’m looking for my back budding down here and off comes the top like that so i took a lot of a lot of sub branches off i’ll get better taper on that branch it’s nice when you can prune a branch back and improve the branch okay i’ve got a branch kind of crisscrossing on the inside here i’m going to take that crisscrossing part off keeping my more vertical part now again some of these branches are getting a little sprawling over here and i think i need to reduce them back if i can and i think i can on this one so here i go that is done there’s a chance for good taper here i’ve got this thicker part of the trunk it comes up and then i’ve got two branches coming horizontal here and then i’ve got an upright part here that’s quite thick i could remove that entire upright part that would give more light to these branches over in this area i get more taper i’d reduce the height of my tree the tree flows out nicely towards the front i’m going to do it i’m going to take this whole upper part off i’ll lose that nice twisty branch but i think it’ll be better for the tree in the end so here i go big cut coming up just like that now that’s a good cutting i’ll i’ll root this as a cutting i’ll just take that twisty branch off okay now does that look better it certainly does i like that it really improved the lines of that branch i’m looking at this branch following it up i divide into two and then i’ve got a thick one growing kind of in towards the middle there and i think it’s kind of cluttering that area up and it’s getting quite high i’ve got one kind of growing from the front view in between these forks right here which isn’t very nice i’m going to start by pruning that one off too much congestion in that area that’s better yeah so i have a chance if i produ prune that one off i get a lot of taper in that area but it’s not the worst in the world either it’s directly behind from the front view this branch is directly behind this one so it doesn’t really contribute to to the design a whole lot and it does grow back in towards the center of the tree i’m going to remove it have to do it i just have to remove it here i go it’s gone and that is also a nice cutting i’ll just clean up the end here plant it i’ve got a branch here that comes off and it’s very dense up top here so i’ve gotta clean that up so there’s a branch going on the inside here i’ll have to remove like that now this back branch here i’ve got it comes up divides into two here and then i got this kind of awkward branch off to the side i don’t think i need that one certainly you wouldn’t miss it from the front view so i’m going to remove that like that so there’s there’s a look at the front view and it’s getting a little tall and heavy off to this one side here so i’m going to have to do something this side’s nice it divides up and you know the ramification gets finer and finer as you get towards the outer edges of the canopy but this side is kind of grows up very coarse divides into two and then the ramifications too high so that requires a bit of cutting well i can take this vertical part off here like that i’ve got a division here i can take this third one off here like that that’s a little better not perfect but better um there’s a branch going here in a bad spot i think i think what i’ve got to do is see this branch here i’ve got to take this part off i’ve got another branch developing behind that would do it so i’m going to take that right off so here i go like that big big cut there and again this one will get planted as a cutting there’s the front view of the main tree i hope that’s looking better i think it is it’s a little more compact you can see the trunk structure better hopefully it looks a little more like a baobab yeah i think that’s looking better it certainly makes the trunk more powerful i think getting it a little shorter and more compact you can see the trunk really nicely now so i’m going to prune up the tree over here now okay it’s my little spider in there i gotta be careful not to disturb my little spiders but okay let’s start pruning back my last tree that isn’t a cutting is the one back here on the left hand side so i’ll prune that one up next all right i’ll clean up all the leaves that are on the forest floor here and we’ll come back and have a look at it here’s a look at the forest now with it all cleaned up pruned up and ready to grow again so i’m just standing back looking at it i think once summer hits it’s going to grow like crazy once again and we’ll keep at it you know developing that trunk and branches thicker and thicker and trying to maintain the compact size of the tree and slowly over the years hopefully it’ll get to look more and more like the african babe apps that would be cool i think it’s already starting to get that that look to it now especially the main tree it’s starting to thicken up and i’m getting a lot of taper in some of the branches that one out to the uh right hand side here it starts off really thick and tapers quickly i like that so yeah i can see you know further pruning maybe this vertical tip can come off in the future yeah the more branches you have the more options you have for the future so it’s good to get back budding and you know you can keep reducing the trees back to living branches all right i’m really happy with that i’ll rotate the forest around so you can see it from all angles [Music] it’s nice to see the portulacary afroforest all pruned up once again and that’s all for today i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone you

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