We talk endlessly about how to manage the growth of bonsai. Which technique for this species, which for that…and it’s a good thing we do, as it’s very important. If we get it wrong we could end up in a pretty pickle.
Less often do we talk about how important the opposite is for an old bonsai: Letting the tree go a bit. Stop ‘managing’ it for a while. Many trees cannot be kept in continual show shape.
There are two concepts here and I don’t wish to confuse them. Most trees need to grow a bit seasonally before they can be cut back to where the profile is. Without that extension growth, if we’re constantly nibbling on the tree, then it can just tire out. This goes for many trees, not all, but it’s not the purpose of this post to go into detail about all that.
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