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Vol#19 Bonsai Fundamentals: Identify Unwanted Branches in Bonsai Preparation

Hand pruning a bonsai with black scissors

Hello Everyone!

When transforming a tree into a bonsai or managing branches during the cultivation stage, one of the most challenging aspects is selecting the right branches to keep and those that need pruning:

- Pruning branches that stand upright.

- Pruning branches emerging from the bottom.

Choosing unnecessary branches can vary depending on the tree type, and sometimes it's best to leave them in place.

There isn't a universal guide that definitively states what you must do, and to be frank, such precise guidance method doesn't truly exist. Thus, in this short article, my aim is to provide you with a few practical tips for identifying unnecessary branches, with a particular focus on the process of preparing a bonsai from raw material.

The essence of a bonsai's appearance is largely determined by its pruning process. It is often said that a bonsai reflects the artistry of its caretaker, mirroring their unique touch. Therefore, when working on a bonsai from raw material, the critical step is to pinpoint the tree's distinctive features and accentuate them. The initial decision is choosing which part of the tree should take center stage.

Consider the following essential points while identifying these tree features:

- Are there any branches extending towards the front of the tree?

- Ensure that branches emerging from the trunk do not disrupt the tree's symmetry.

- Verify that lower branches do not collide with or obstruct branches situated further down the tree.

If branches overlap or if leaves on branches become densely packed, pruning is advised to remove these unwanted branches.

Finally, when pruning, it is vital to initiate the cut from the base of the branch, rather than the tip.

Until next time!

ReBonsai Yusuke Ogawa

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