Hard pruning to encourage growth?

Nebari Bonsai

Azaleas get very twiggy, and become brittle after a few years. As they age and become brittle, the cambium constricts at the twiggy new growth, and eventually causes the tree to weaken. Peter Warren talks about keeping trees “young” by hard-pruning them every few years.

I had let my kurume azalea grow for the last 10 years or so with very little hard-pruning and it started to decline. Look at this progression.

April 2017:

October 2017, after a full growing season, unpruned from the photo above. Look at the anemic growth:

March 2018 before pruning:

And April 2018, after hard-pruning:

It might be difficult to see how hard I pruned it back because the profile is still roughly the same. However, I removed about 1/3 of the ramification, back to secondary branches and leaving a few tertiary branches. The best way to compare is by looking at how much thicker…

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The Cycle Continues: Japanese Maple 2018

Nebari Bonsai

A one-year update on this thread.

This maple is getting close to “show-ready” again. It went to the 2012 US National Bonsai Exhibition, and since that time, I have been working to improve the base, correct some structural flaws, and heal a couple pruning scars left by correcting said structural flaws. Here is a shot in late November just before leaf-fall.

And here it is leafless a few days later:

Several branches are thickening and need to be replaced with finer shoots. Where would you prune the branch below:

Below is the after shot. The goal is to prune back to a bifurcated pair of about the same size.

One area of very slow progress has been this thread graft which has languished for both of the last two growing seasons it has been knitting. This may be due to the fact that the scion split at the entrance hole…

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New Design for an Awarded Ponderosa Pine-

michael hagedorn

This bunjin pine won the Ben Oki award years ago, and then showed up on the cover of Bonsai Clubs International in 1992. The two and a half decades since, under the stewardship of several owners, have proven that Ponderosa does eventually ramify.

In the last few years, however, the lower branch has weakened—made worse by an outbreak of needle cast—and so when the pine came into the yard a year ago we faced a choice.

A bonsai with some legacy attached can slow down your decision-making to a crawl. But bonsai change, and we are given the opportunity to change our ideas when they do. Here are a few photos of operation day-


Ponderosa Pine shortly after winning the Ben Oki award, on the cover of BCI in 1992


The pine in 2018


A thought for a new inclination


Another thought: Remove the weak low branch




This is…

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