How To Trim And Shape Your Bonsai Tree


As the Chinese Elm is one of our best sellers and one most people say “I was given this tree as a present but…..” I thought it would be a good idea to show you how to trim them back and go over some loose rules of shaping.

I have selected this tree randomly from our shop and as you can see it needs a good trim as the branches are all over the place.

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We trim trees every so often to produce new denser growth, keep them in shape, clear out any overcrowding and dead branches.  Getting close to the tree you can examine all aspects of the shape and growth.

General rules for branch placement (but not always possible I must add) is to remove any branches growing back towards the trunk, any branches pointing straight down and finally any branches growing on the inside of a curve.
Again I must stress this isn’t always possible so please don’t 100% follow these rules as in some cases you won’t be left with much of a tree.

We always start from the lowest branch and work our way up the tree.

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The Chinese Elm has a directional growth pattern meaning that if you cut by a leaf that is pointing left it will continue to growth left and if you cut by a leaf growing right it will continue to grow to the right.

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Once you are happy you have cleared the tree of unwanted branches you can either throw the cuttings away or try and root them to create a new tree.

The finished tree looking a lot better.  In a few weeks new buds and shoots will appear and the process starts again.

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Other tasks undertaken in May:
  • Continue to fertilise trees you didn’t repot.
  • You can start to air layer deciduous trees from May til July.
  • Any trees left under shelter or in a greenhouse can now be placed back on your benches (but look out for late frosts).

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