Bonsai tree: Bonsai maintenance

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bonsai tree: Bonsai maintenance

Source: Bonsai Tonight
Bonsai maintenance

I find mid-summer to late fall to be an interesting time of year in bonsai. It’s a good time for the little tasks – the maintenance work. In cooler seasons, I can bring one or two trees to a workshop that will keep me busy all day. This time of year, I tend to load up many trees and spend just a few minutes with each. This month was no exception. My winterberry, for example, has been growing vigorously, but big cutback isn’t scheduled until the end of the growing season. For now, I’m content to remove a few unnecessary branches and wire the new shoots.

Ilex serrata


Late spring is a good time to work on satsuki. My small azalea has grown dense since spring so I thinned out the new shoots.

Satsuki azalea

Satsuki azalea

My Yaupon holly has budded back wonderfully this year. Like I did for the winterberry, I removed a few unnecessary branches and wired the new shoots. Major cutback will come later.

Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon holly

Not everyone in the workshop busied themselves with such mundane tasks. Here is one of the three ficus that received a basic styling while I was busy with my trees. What a fun project!



I also had a chance to partially defoliate my trident maple. I’d hoped to do this work a month ago, but August has been cool and my trees have been growing slowly. Instead of removing all of the tree’s leaves this late in the season, I removed a lot of the growth at the ends of the branches and all of the big leaves.

Trident maple - summer

Trident maple

After removing large leaves

New leaves revealed after removing the large leaves

Partially devoliated apex

Half-way done

Partially devoliated

Partial defoliation complete

Watching the interior shoots make slow progress has made me wonder about taking a more radical approach next year. Although I have plenty of time to consider what I’ll do with the tree next spring, I’m already looking forward to seeing what will happen.


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