Pruning Up Some Small Bonsai Trees

Pruning Up Some Small Trees, The Bonsai Zone, Feb 2022

I saw you had a new video out, and it reminded me that I hadn’t checked the seeds in my fridge last weekend. I checked them all out and got 5 out of 7 apple seeds sprouted! I quickly put them in a pot (same kind as your Japanese elm), and can’t wait to see if anything comes up! The japanese cherry and the maple seeds are still not sprouted, but here’s crossing my fingers.

hi everyone nigel saunders here i’m going to start the work today on my ketone aster i bought this tree in spring and this winter it’s the first time i’ve seen it without any leaves on it and i don’t really like the pruning i did on the tree here’s a look at the tree so i’ll rotate it around so i i’m feeling that the branches are some of them are a little thick and they’re kind of coarse looking like that one you know it’s very thick it doesn’t have any taper i think i’m going to have to remove a lot of these branches and kind of try and grow new ones so that’s kind of the look at the tree so yeah i think i’m going to have to do some fairly drastic pruning on it i think yeah too many of these branches like in the upper canopy here they’re just too thick they don’t have any taper or movement for you know this distance because this tree is so small it needs it just can’t have these rapidly grown kind of straight branches without any taper or movement so i’ve gotta kind of cut them back and maybe regrow them a lot of them i’ll try and keep all the ones i can but i think a lot of them will have to go and i’m not really happy with that kind of this kind of curvature movement here either so yeah i think it’s time to prune it all right let me begin i’ll take out the name tag this is a cranberry cottony aster it’s a nice one um i’ll try and i thought about taking it all the way back to just a trunk line and then re-growing all the branches but if there’s some i can keep i will i’m going to start i removed a great big thick one from down below initially and that’s starting to heal over really nicely so i think i think this one’s too low also and then this one’s on kind of the inside of a curve so i think these two need to go i’m going to start with this lowest branch this one right here so i’ve already taken off one here one over here now i’m going to take the lowest one off and i’ll try and clean up some of these pruning points there goes that branch i’m just going to i guess that’s okay it’ll look a little gnarly the face of this tree there we go okay so now i feel this one you know it’s very straight too it kind of has no movement or taper until way out here so it’s got to go and you know if some new branches grow in these spots that’s good then i can train them from young that one’s gone so there the trunk line is quite nice on this it’s kind of bulgy which looks good i mean once that heels over it’ll have a lot of character to it so now i come up to this branch and this branch isn’t bad but again you can see it starts here it sweeps all the way out here and there’s not much taper it has some taper from here to the tip but not a whole lot you know it doesn’t go down to some fine branching so i think i’ve either got to cut it back or remove it totally i think this is a branch i could cut back i’ve got you know some branches trying to form way back here so i i think i just need to cut it off really short maybe you know maybe even keep this branch let’s try that like that take the tip off now does that look okay that looks okay has some taper to it now so i’m going up the trunk line you can see the trunk is still very thick up here i removed a great big branch off here but it’s still it goes from thick and it kind of stays thick and then we get up here so this is my kind of thinnest apex branch now i can’t have you know i can’t have a canopy on here so the thick branches because they’re going upright are okay they’re not the worst in the world um i don’t like i’ve got a junction of three branches here i don’t like that at all i think that middle one has to go is my feeling um i’m not even sure if i had a front for this tree i think the front was somewhere there over here i got the big scar until that heals that can’t really be the front but maybe in the future i think i’m going to take off both of these thick ones they’re just they’re just massive they’re big stubs i can’t develop anything off of those so they have to go so i’m going to prune this one off first so here i go and then i’m going to prune this one off like that and then i’ll try and clean this area up it looks like they scar over really nicely or heal over so that’s pretty good and then this one again it’s a big thick stub it goes the same thickness all the way up to here with no change of direction i could shorten it to here but then i kind of got an awkward kink i’ll try shortening it see what it looks like come in from maybe this side like that and then i will prune it back to here and take this one off kind of extending that branch line out so that’s that’s got some good taper and movement i think that looks quite good this one maybe i’ll definitely have to bring that back not maybe um there’s not much happening on the top there i think to here like that so that’s getting down pretty well to a stump i think that’s going to do it has a lot of healing to do we’ll let that develop this year and then we’ll tackle it again i will be repotting it this spring sorting out the roots getting it into a smaller pot than this giant one yeah so that’s that’s pruning up the cotoneaster i think that’s better you know keeping it a small tree developing nice branches on it i have this kind of rough gnarly trunk which hopefully will only get better in the future i’ll try and get the name tag back in here there and i can put it back on the bench the next tree i’ll be working on is this zelkova or japanese graybark elm this tree was grown from a seed by michael in the kw bonsai society he gave it to me several years ago and i’ve been developing it it doesn’t need a whole lot of pruning today just a little refining this is the front of the tree i’ll rotate it around so you can see it from all angles so here’s the front coming around to the right side to the back left side and back to the front so there’s a few stumps you know from previous pruning points that i need to clean up um i’m going to look at the bud positions to see if i can shorten any of the branches back i noticed i’ve got a couple of places where i’ve got two branches coming out very close to each other here and here so i’ll just uh keep one of those branches all right here i go on the pruning so i’m looking at this lowest i’ve got two opposite branches generally if you have opposite branches like that you’ll kind of get a bulging in this area especially as these branches thicken so it’s best to just keep one it’s okay to have staggered branches if this branch were down here it would be fine but when they’re directly opposite each other you’ll get a bulge in that area so my nicest branch i think this branch you can kind of see the trunk line curves over this direction shading out that branch and you can see this branch isn’t very strong compared to the other one so i’m going to take that one off so here i go like that then the other branch on this side this part of the branch is living but this part is dead so i’m going to prune off the dead portion like that and then i’ve got coming up i’ve got the same thing they’re staggered a little bit this one’s higher than that one but not by much and again you can see this one is very weak it is in a nice position but i think it’s better this will be my division of my single trunk coming up to two multi trunks or upright branches in the structure so i think this smaller one’s got to go so off it goes like that then this branch comes up it divides from one to two this one divides from one to two again and this one doesn’t and it just divides from one to one so i’ve got a stump i’m gonna prune off there and one here i can clean up and then i think it comes up divides from one to two here and this one kind of goes off on a funny angle i think that one has to be removed so it divides from one to two and it flows out nicely there’s a dead tip here i can take off that’s okay there’s a stump here i can remove that one here tip off here above here so i’ve already got these branches well maybe i don’t i was going to say i have them as short as possible but i do have a butt up top and i see there’s a new bud down below so i am going to reduce this branch back because it’s getting kind of thick and it’s straight for quite a length take the tip off this one i have a good bud here so i can again remove that one i don’t want to get this tree to all these branches you know long straight sections i want it now these will all these straight sections will eventually flow as the tree thickens up and develops so any angular looking branches tend to smooth out with age there’s another stub i can remove here like that let me get that a bit better up in the apex here i have a butt on the inside here i could shorten it to that and i will and i have one here on the inside so i can shorten that this one i got one on the inside and one underneath i was going to shorten that i will take that back to there i have a bud down here and one up top i could shorten that back to there yeah and i think that’s good i think this tree is uh quite nice it’s getting a nice basic structure i could see maybe this would be the front in the future somewhere around there yeah it’s a good looking tree there’s a couple of buds developing down there which i i won’t let develop i want to keep a nice trunk and i i don’t want the branches to start down really low i don’t want to make it a very small tree i want to kind of grow it into a fairly large tree because the leaves the leaves are fairly big on this at least for now as i get more and more branching the leaf the leaf size will reduce but for now the leaves are quite big and i i want to grow it into sort of a small to medium sized tree so that can go back on the bench it’s all pruned up ready for spring the next tree i’ll be working on is this japanese black pine this was grown by a seed also by michael from the kw club he gave it to me several years ago he gave me two of them but one didn’t make it but this one’s growing really strongly last spring i repotted this i bare rooted it repotted it and it has a nice radial root base to it so it has a lot of potential for the future so now i’m going to do its first first pruning ever on the tree here’s a close-up look at my japanese black pine so i’m going to prune it for the very first time and i have to envision what the tree will look like in the future you know maybe i want the trunk line to be this branch a slanting style maybe i want it to be this as the new leader maybe these are sacrifice branches there’s a lot of possibilities so it all depends on what you envision your tree to look like in the future if i look at the tree i’ve got really strong growth going vertical i’ve got three super strong buds up top i’ve got two branches down here that have kind of the one at the back has a strong bud this one is kind of a medium size there is a lot of buds down lower that will develop into branches probably you can see them down here there’s a bud there and one the other side one thing i’m sure of is that i don’t want to grow this tree really small um it’s hard to water with these lowest branches here and i don’t want these lower branches that low on the tree i want the trunk line to come up and you know my lowest branch would at least be this high if not higher so i think today i’m going to remove these two lower branches and develop this trunk line what i envision this tree to look like in the future is more of a a pine that you would see out in a field or at the edge of a forest not a mountain pine that’s kind of beat down but something that’s healthy and vigorous looking not a lot of scarring on it just a peaceful image of a pine you know that you would typically see in nature so here i go with these lower branches i’m going to take them off now i will leave a stub because it’s going to bleed and i don’t want it dying back um i would rather you know leave a stub here and then in the future i can prune it back once it’s kind of all the living tissue and veins have grown around that dead branch so here i go i’m going to cut this one off here like that you can see the buds on the tip of that were quite vigorous too there was two one really strong one and one uh medium to weak butt on it and the next one i’m going to prune this branch off over here so i’ll come in here like that and this one also had about the same as small to medium you know vigor on that bud so there it is there’s the uh the pine with its first initial pruning the next tree i’ll be printing up is this beauty berry that connor gave me last summer it gets those kind of pinkish purple berries on them and in fall once the leaves fall you get all these colorful berries and it looks really nice a nice plant to add to your collection there’s a few plants in this pot this is the thickest one and that’s the one connor wanted to develop but it it died after cutting it back it died so unfortunately that one’s dead the one with the most potential the one off to the side here did really well over the summer it’s got all kinds of new growth on it so that one’s a keeper and then there’s one out the back here this one has a living branch on it now it is possible i don’t know if these are all a clump and you know just this outer one has survived but i i’m pretty sure they’re all interconnected the root system but these are very dead there’s no chance of them coming back to life this year so i think i’ll concentrate on developing this one as my bonsai so all i’m going to do i can see buds on it kind of pink shaped buds i’m going to prune it back and then let it grow again for the summer here’s a look at the berries they’re kind of shriveled up now but they look you know quite good all fall i’m sure there’s seeds inside there too i’ll pick the seeds off now or the the fruit and i’ll put them on the surface of the pot here and maybe they’ll grow some more you never know all right here i go with the pruning so i’m looking for buds and i i don’t want you know them to grow too tall and vine like i want taper and movement to all the branches so you know the shorter i can prune them back the better there’s some good buds at this level so i think i’ll take it off just above there like that and you know it’s nice and green so the plant looks really healthy this back one is very rapidly grown it’s very stiff looking uh i’ve got buds at this level i don’t see much else so i’ll take it off here like that i’ve got my main trunk line coming up here and i’ve got a stump from a previous pruning so i’m going to clean that up like that i wear safety glasses when you prune these then i’ve got a branch coming up here it divides into two here so i’ll prune it off here and i’ll leave this one a little longer to there i’ve got a branch coming out from the root base here kind of a sucker i don’t know if i’ll use it but i’ll put it back short for now you never know maybe i’ll want to use it in the future and i have the same i have another really low branch coming off this side i got some buds down here i think because i have some branches here i’ll take it off here like that shorten these that i’ll also shorten this one a bit more i’ve got some good buds there and i’ve got one out here i can shorten so that’s got this little side tree pruned up the only other one i have to do is this one living part here so i don’t want it growing over top of my other one now i could repot these in spring but i’m more than likely i might if i get time i will because this one’s growing right near the edge of the pod i don’t know spring is always a busy time of the year i’ll prune this one back to here here and to here there so that’s all pruned up ready to grow and i hope hopefully i’ll get time to repot them in spring i’ll try there’s a close-up look at them interesting the last plant i’ll be working on today is my virginia creeper it’s an ivy that was just growing by the fence and i dug up this little chute and i planted it and it’s been growing quite well since here’s a look at my virginia creeper i’m not sure what’s going on here i’ve got you know sort of an aerial route coming down here i’ve got a straight trunk here some branches off of here so i don’t think it’s going to take much pruning today i’m just going to reduce it back a bit i’ve got a long kind of shoot out the back here that’ll prune up so let’s begin let’s get this one pruned back there is a bud here and there’s one here so i’ll just put it back to there there’s a kind of a long straight section here i could prune it back there’s a bud down here there’s one up here i’m not sure if i should prune it back develop it off of here i guess i should let’s do it you see how green it is inside and then there’s a stump dead stump up here that i could prune back back to the kind of the green wood there i think that’s all i need to do to it i guess i could prune this one back to these stumps here so i’ll do that if i can get in here there okay i think that’s got it pruned up we’ll see what happens this spring if it grows like crazy the temperature has been dropping all day today we’re going down to minus 17 degrees celsius tonight so pretty cold it’s uh a little cool outside to be working on my marble pot down here so i’m just i’ve just got in the greenhouse here waiting for a little warmer weather outside and then i can go back to shaping it so that’ll be exciting beside my marble pot here i’ve got my to prom temple that i started making last year so i’ll be getting back to that this february too as soon as i get my marble pot done i’ll start work on the to prom temple once again getting it all finished and then ready for planting the spring i’ve got all my royal oak seedlings in the greenhouse here they take up a lot of room but i wanted to make sure that they they develop in spring so i’ve been keeping them in the greenhouse here protected from the really cold weather and also protected from the squirrels and whatever else wants to eat these acorns so i’ve got a lot of them i planted a lot and the reason i planted a lot is because the mother tree the royal oak it’s not looking really good it won’t last forever i don’t think and i wanted to be sure that i get as many royal oak seedlings from it as i can and hopefully from all these royal oaks in here i hope i can develop at least a few of them into really nice bonsai in the future i can hear that wind outside blowing in the cold weather cold tonight even colder tomorrow night so i’ll have to keep the heat on in the greenhouse here to keep the plants close to the freezing mark that’s all for today i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone [Music]

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